As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The LT OGs.
After a disastrous 2017, the Giants are poised to rebound in a major way. Outside of obvious names, what Big Blue member has the most profit potential based on ADP this year?
Brad – STERLING SHEPARD. Even when Odell Beckham suited up last season, Shepard was a primary target. Over the first four weeks of 2017 with OBJ he cranked out a 5.3-3.8-54.7-0.25 average line. Extrapolate that over a full season and he would’ve finished with numbers (61-875-4) comparable to PPR slot machine Cooper Kupp (WR25).
It’s doubtful Shepard will reach or exceed those numbers this fall, but he certainly could finish in the vicinity. Keep in mind, he was an efficient and productive short-field weapon catching 71.3 percent of his targets from the slot, an area he lined up 83.8 percent of the time. Attention drawn to Beckham, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley will only benefit him. A tally around 75-925-5 is achievable, making him a very useful WR3 largely available at a WR4 price (101.6 ADP, WR37).
Liz – EVAN ENGRAM. The exception to the rule, Engram was the fifth most productive player at his position in 2017, despite being a rookie. Admittedly, injuries to the rest of the receiving corps upped Engram’s target volume, but he certainly rose to the occasion. Winning nearly 42 percent of contested catches (#6) and dominating after the catch (#5), the Ole Miss alum returned on his first round (No. 23 overall) draft investment.
Of course, his looks figure to decrease if OBJ and Sterling Shepard stay healthy. But with Brandon Marshall gone and Eli Manning’s arm a year older, Engram will continue to #werk in the red area of the field. And let’s not forget his new HC has an affinity for the position, having excelled as a TE coach in both Philly (Chad Lewis) and Minnesota (Kyle Rudolph). Building on the success of his first year in the league, Engram will continue to ascend, and deserves top-five consideration heading into the fall.
On the panic meter, where does Saquon Barkley fall in level of concern terms at his current 8.1 (RB6) ADP? (1 = Avoid completely; 10 = No doubts)
Liz – EIGHT. Barkley is a stud. And we’ve regularly watched rookies at the position break out in big ways. But I’m “worried” about Barkley’s TD total. Jonathan Stewart remains capable of vulturing the Penn State product, and Evan Engram figures to be oft-utilized in the red zone. Plus, the offensive line, which certainly received an upgrade with the additions of Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh, is far from a sure thing. All of that said, Barkley has the skills to be a generational talent. He’s my No. 8 ranked RB, behind Melvin Gordon and ahead of Dalvin Cook.
Brad – Hey DJ, crank the volume to ELEVEN. In the middle part of Round 1 of 12-team drafts Barkley is my jam, the equivalent of when “No Diggity” spins at the wedding reception. I have zero reservations about his rookie season no matter format. Zero.
Many in the draftnik community screamed “DUMB!” when the Giants selected Saquon at No. 2 overall. The position’s overall replacement value and the depth of this year’s class explained their reasoning. Despite their unwavering, yet acceptable, stance, the rusher is an extremely gifted, multidimensional marvel destined to take the league by storm. His off-the-charts athletic profile (99th SPARQ percentile), ideal size (6-feet, 233-pounds), versatile three-down skill set, ridiculous tackle-thwarting abilities (3.54 YAC/att in ’17) and breakaway wheels (4.40 40-yard) place him among some of the game’s best rushing talents. Behind an upgraded offensive line, given what should be an above average Giants defense and with Eli Manning in his twilight phase, he will be Big Blue’s steam engine, a rusher likely to total nearly 25 touches per game.
Remember, four first-year RBs in .5 PPR last season finished inside the position’s top-12. Fear the unknown. Lose your league. Barkley, who is a strong candidate for 1400-1600 total yards with 10-plus touchdowns, is every bit a fantasy first rounder.
With trade rumors put to bed and contract dollars on the line, OVER or UNDER final WR fantasy rank for Odell Beckham 3.5?
Brad – UNDER. All the chatter about Beckham departing New York upon Dave Gettleman’s hire was nothing but bluster. He’s likely to remain a Giant for the foreseeable future. With the drama put to bed, OBJ will focus on picking up where he left off prior to suffering a horrendous broken ankle. Recall he was on pace for a ridiculous 164-100-1208-12 before his season prematurely ended.
The transition to Mike Shula as offensive coordinator and increased balance on offense doesn’t mean Beckham will see a significant reduction in target share. Realistically, he should entice anywhere between 24-26 percent in the category. Stave off the injury imp and OBJ, one of the game’s finest after-catch gainers and baseball mashers, is sure to go yard numerous times. He’s one of the safest options available in the back half of Round 1 (9.8 ADP, WR3).
Liz – UNDER. Come on! Who are you drafting ahead of OBJ? Keenan Allen? Because he’s proven to be ultra-durable? OBJ has averaged at least top-five fantasy points per game every year since 2014. I get that the ankle is a concern, but when he’s healthy Beckham is arguably the best player at the position. He scored three TDs in four weeks last year! And in 2016, he didn’t just catch 101 balls (#3), but also managed over 3 yards per target after the catch (#3). If he can stay healthy, OBJ is a lock for 95-1,325-11.