New York Giants
|By Shawn Childs, Wednesday, August 26, 2020|
The New York Giants struggled to win games over the last three seasons (4-12, 5-11, and 3-13), leading to another coaching change in 2020. Last year, Joe Judge made the jump from special teams/wide receiver coach for the Patriots to earning New York's head coaching job. He had been in New England's system since 2012. Over the previous 11 seasons, Judge was part of three Super Bowl wins and two National Championships at Alabama.
The offensive coordinator job now lies in the hands of former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. He went 85-67 over the last decade in Dallas with three trips to the postseason, which included three NFC East titles (2014, 2016, and 2018). Garrett has been a coach in the NFL for 15 years.
New York ranked 18th in points scored (341) and 23rd yards gained in 2019.
Patrick Graham is the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Graham has previously worked with Judge while both were with the New England Patriots. Sean Spencer is the defensive line coach and run-game coordinator. He's making the jump from Penn State to the NFL game. In 2018 and 2019, Spencer held three different jobs – associate head coach, run game coordinator, and defensive line coach. He had been a college coach since 1995.
After a long career with the Giants, Eli Manning hung up his cleats after the 2019 season. He finished with a 117-117 record in the regular season while picking up a pair of Super Bowl titles (2007 and 2011).
New York's top two signings (LB Blake Martinez and CB James Bradberry) came on the defensive side. Martinez should see a high volume of plays on every down. His play vs. the run regressed over the last two seasons, but he did chip in with more sacks in 2018 and 2019. Bradberry tends to play well in coverage while drawing his opposing team's top receiver. The Giants signed him to a three-year, $44 million contract in March.
The Giants added Dion Lewis for depth at running back and two lower-level options at tight end (Eric Tomlinson and Levine Toilolo).
Offensive tackle Mike Remmers found a new home in Kansas City.
They decided not to bring back DE Markus Golden, S Antoine Bethea, LB Alec Ogletree, DE Kareem Martin, RB Javorius Allen, S Michael Thomas, LB Deone Bucannon, TE Scott Simonson, and WR Russell Shepard.
Improving the strength of the Giants' offensive line was the first priority in this year's draft. Over their first five picks, New York added T Andrew Thomas (1st), T Matt Peart (3rd), and G Shane Lemieux (5th).
Thomas brings a power/vision combination to the offensive line. His foundation technique grades well while having the quickness to handle his responsibilities outside his blocking area. Thomas can lose his edge when making the first move, and a defender doesn't attack off the snap. His hands help him win, but Thomas needs to improve his base when attacked by quick-moving pass rushers that provide follow-through with their strength.
Peart has the look of an upside tackle, but he needs to add more fight and strength to his game. Peart moves well for a big man (6'7" and 320 lbs.), and his frame should except more bulk without losing his upside. His quickness and footwork set the tone for a developing skill set in pass protection. Peart needs to improve his vision, hands, and decision making in space to secure a long term job in the league.
Lemieux is all about power and strength while owning the smarts to make good reads at the point of attack. His game projects much higher in run blocking. Lemieux has a limited range in pass protection with question foot speed.
In the second and fourth rounds, New York picked up S Xavier McKinney and CB Darnay Holmes.
McKinney offers a cornerback skill set for the safety position, but he lacks impact speed (4.63). He makes quick reads with the acceleration to be on time in run support. McKinney understands the game with the willingness to attack. His risk comes when asked to cover the long field vs. speed or chase crossing receivers in traffic.
Holmes has a press cover feel with playmaking skills. He looks to offer upside when back-peddling, but his vision and decision making can lead to mistakes. Holmes does need to get stronger while trading his motion for read-and-react skills.
Over the last two rounds, the Giants had five draft selections with all picks dictated toward the defense – LB Cameron Brown, LB Carter Coughlin, LB T.J. Brunson, CB Chris Williamson, and LB Tae Crowder.
Brown hasn't developed into his body at this point in his football career. Once he fills out and adds more strength, Brown will have the look of an attacking player with pass-rush skills. His game plays well when moving forward, but he needs to improve his line of pursuit to help his timing.
Coughlin earns keep with hard work and an understanding of the game. He almost uses a changeup feel to create his win in the pass rush and value in run support. His size (6'3" and 235 lbs.) is ideal when adding in his speed (4.57 forty). Strength and quickness aren't where they need to be a difference-maker in the NFL.
Brunson projects as an early-down run stopper due to his limited range and quickness. He wants to pound his opponents while lacking recovery skills to add any success in pass coverage. Offenses will look to pick on him in the passing game when on the field.
Williamson has more of a safety feel at the next level. He'll attack the run, but his tackling skills aren't ideal. He comes from an offensive background, which helps his ability to cover over the field's short areas. Williamson lacks the quickness to handle wide receivers in the slot or the speed to win the deep passing game.
Crowder is a former running back converted to linebacker. His speed and quickness play well, but he needs growth and development in his foundation skill set. Crowder has a chance to see playing time in coverage once he improves his technique and vision.
The Giants finished 19th in rushing yards (1,685) with 11 rushing TDs and 13 runs over 20 yards. Their ball carriers gained 4.7 yards per rush. Game score led to short running chances (22.6 per game – 29th), the second straight season with weakness in this area.
New York slipped to 15th in passing yards (4,070), but they had success in passing TDs (30) while tossing 17 interceptions. They gained only 6.7 yards per pass attempt with 54 completions over 20 yards. Their offensive line allowed 43 sacks and 119 QB hits.
LT Nate Solder
Solder had a long career of success as both a run and pass blocker for the Patriots over seven seasons after getting drafted 17th overall in 2011. His game slipped backward in run blocking last year while giving up too many sacks for the Giants. New York needs him to regain his previous form in 2020.
LG Will Hernandez
Hernandez ended up starting all 32 games for the Giants at left guard over his first two seasons after getting drafted in the second round in 2018. His game is built with power and strength. Hernandez has the footwork to handle the pass rush plus the power to lead runs over his area of the field. His speed and quickness limit his blocking window if asked to reach beyond his small piece of real estate. Hernandez continues to show weakness as a run blocker
C Shane Lemieux
The center position for the Giants will be in flux this year. Lemieux probably has the best chance to start due to his ability to help in the run game. He needs to prove that he can hold off defenders in pass protection to keep the job all season.
RG Kevin Zeitler
Zeitler was a former first-round draft pick by the Bengals in 2012. Last year he continued to play well in pass protection, which has been an area of strength in all eight years in the NFL. Zeitler regained some of his lost value in run blocking in 2019, which showed regression in his two seasons with the Browns.
If Thomas hits the ground running, he may push Nate Solder to the right tackle. I expect him to play well in all parts of the game in his rookie season. Thomas understands the game well with power and quickness to win on many plays.
Offensive Line Outlook
New York focused on improving their offensive line over the last two seasons with the eyes on running a successful ball control offense. Last year they allowed too many sacks and plenty of pressure on the quarterback position. Their overall core projects to rank well above the league average. Their ultimate ceiling falls on the development of their rookie core of plays.
QB Daniel Jones - Quality Backup
After some disappointment on draft day for Giants' fans, Jones proved to be worthy of the 6th overall pick in 2019.
He played at a high-level in four games in combined yards and TDs (364/4, 335/4, 328/4, and 364/5). Over his other eight starts, Jones had seven games with only one TD and six games with fewer than 225 yards passing.
He needs to improve his yards per pass attempt (6.6) while eliminating his failure in lost fumbles (11).
The Giants have a top pass-catching RB with viable talent at WR1, WR2, WR3, and TE. Jones should have a floor of 400 yards rushing with some TDs on the ground plus the tools to pass for over 4,000 yards with serviceable TDs.
In the first run of the projections, Jones looks to be on a path for 4,386 combined yards with 29 TDs and 13 Ints. Borderline top 12 QB.
RB Saquon Barkley - Stud (low risk)
Barkley was one of many first-round busts in 2019. He scored 141.7 fewer fantasy points in PPR leagues while missing three games due to a high ankle sprain.
His season started with a pair of 100-yard rushing games (11/120 and 18/107/1), but Barkley struggled to make plays over his next eight games (628 combined yards with two TDs and 34 catches) while gaining only 3.1 yards per rush.
His final three games (539 combined yards with five TDs and 11 catches) showcased his expected potential.
Barkley gained 3,469 combined yards with 24 TDs, and 143 catches over his first 29 games in the NFL. His success breaks down to 120 yards, 0.83 TDs, and 4.9 catches per game or 21.87 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues.
The Giants have a developing offense, which starts with a workhorse back. I expect 1,931 combined yards with 14 TDs and 70 catches on 362 touches for Barkley. He tends to be drafted second overall in PPR leagues.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
RB Dion Lewis - Deep-league Only
The Giants added Lewis for running back depth, which was helped by his ties to the Patriots and New York's new head coach. After playing well in 2017 (1,110 combined yards with nine TDs and 32 catches) for New England, his role had regression both seasons with the Titans.
This year he'll have another minimal opportunity behind Saquon Barkley. Over his last 209 carries, Lewis gained 3.5 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per catch.
WR Darius Slayton - Sleeper (undervalued)
Slayton struggled with his catch rate (43.8) over his final two seasons at college, but he did score a touchdown on (15.6 percent of his chances) while gaining 20.5 yards per catch.
Once Jones took over, Slayton flashed the ability to be the "hot hand" in the passing game over four different weeks (4/62/1, 2/50/2, 10/121/2, and 5/154/2).
New York gave him nine starts over his last 11 games played, due to some injuries the Giants' other wide receivers.
New York has depth in their receiving core at RB, WR, and TE, which does add cloudiness to Stayton's opportunity in 2020.
More of a WR4 with upside if New York has one injury to another wide receiver. I set his bar at 58 catches for 847 yards and seven TDs in the initial projections. Fantasy owners have him priced as the 41st wide receiver drafted.
WR Sterling Shepard - Gamble (high risk)
Over his four years in the NFL, Shepard showcased high upside in multiple games, but he battled numerous concussions. In 2019, he missed Week 2 with a concussion, followed up by five more missed games with another concussion.
Over his first four games, Shepard caught 25 passes for 267 yards and one TD highlighted by his success in Week 3 (7/100/1). Later in the year, he flashed in two more games (9/111 and 6/76/1).
Better than his career stats, but Shepard can't fulfill his expected value without staying on the field. With a full season of action, he has a chance at 75 catches for 900 yards and six TDs.
Risk/reward type player due to the concussion history.
WR Golden Tate - Bye Week Fill-in
After missing the first four games due to a suspension in 2019, Tate flashed over five games (30/404/3) highlighted by his success in Week 6 (6/102/1) and Week 10 (4/95/2).
A concussion cost him Week 13, leading to a step back in value over his final five games (16 catches for 259 yards and three TDs on 35 targets).
With WR Darius Slayton coming on and Tate getting closer to social security, he's a tough investment as a starting player in the fantasy world.
The Giants have a pass-catching talent at RB, WR1, WR2, WR3, and TE, which hurts Tate's consistency. Possible 65 catches for 700 yards and four TDs while working as a rotational player in PPR leagues.
TE Evan Engram - Solid/Safe Pick
Engram has been a tough ride over the last two seasons due to 13 missed games.
Last year he looked like fantasy gold after the first three games (23/277/2) thanks to two impact showings (11/116/1 and 6/113/1). Injuries cost him Week 6 (knee), and his final seven games (foot – required surgery in mid-December).
Over 34 games in the NFL, Engram averaged 4.5 catches for 52 yards and 0.35 TDs per game or 11.8 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues.
An upside talent that needs to stay healthy for 16 games to provide a top-six edge at TE. Jones flashed in his rookie season while expecting to improve in 2020.
In the high-stakes market, Engram has an eighth or ninth round as the seventh off the board. On a path for 70 catches for 850 yards and a handful of TDs.
New York - Quality Backup
New York has the talent on the defensive line to show growth against the run. The LB corps will make plenty of tackles, but the Giants need Golden and Mayo to build on last year's success. This defense needs Baker to play and live up to his draft expectations. The rest of the secondary has enough strength to rank above the league average.
Possible second fantasy defense if the pieces come together in 2020.