Fantasy Court: The Case For Kenny Golladay in 2021
If you are new to the Fantasy Footballers or are unfamiliar with the Fantasy Court series, this article can be one-half of a tandem argument or a stand-alone read. I detail the case for Kenny Golladay in this piece while fellow writer Julia Papworth will lay the case against him for the 2021 season. Make sure to check out Fantasy Court: The Case Against Kenny Golladay to read the other side of the argument.
There is little doubt that Golladay’s new home with the New York Giants is not the same style of offense he had with the Detroit Lions. The pairing between Lions QB Matthew Stafford and Golladay was unstoppable, which propelled Golladay to finish as the WR6 in half-PPR in 2019.
The fantasy community was excited about another elite year from both Stafford and Golladay, but fate had other ideas. The wide receiver only played in five games early in the season and was sidelined with a lingering hamstring injury after Week 9 through the remainder of the season.
This year, the Lions shook things up yet again, trading Stafford to the Rams, and Golladay has a new home in New York with third-year signal-caller Daniel Jones as his quarterback.
The Giants aren’t known for their illustrious offense, to put it plainly. They ranked 31st in total yards, points for, passing first downs, and points per drive. They ranked 26th in passing attempts, 29th in passing yards, and 31st in passing touchdowns. Jones was also 9th in the league in interceptions at 11.
None of these stats suggest anything hopeful for Golladay in 2021.
However dismal these statistics may be for the Giants, I propose to look at a different set of data to make the case for Golladay in 2021.
Let’s take a look at a few narratives that are shadowing the wide receiver for the upcoming season.
Narrative 1: Daniel Jones Is Not as Good as Matthew Stafford
It’s hard to argue this point. However, what a fantasy manager should consider instead is Jones’ growth in a horrible offense from his rookie year in 2019 to 2020.
Believe it or not, he did take some big steps forward despite every attempt by the offensive line and supporting cast to make it impossible. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Giants O-Line scored the lowest pass-blocking grade and Jones’ surrounding pass-catching weapons also scored the eighth-worst receiving grade.
Yet, despite these roadblocks, Jones still improved from a PFF grade of 65.7 in 2019 to 78.4 last year with 55.5% of his passes deemed on target.
Where Jones truly excelled was his deep-throw (passes of 20 yards or more) and tight window coverage. He earned PFF’s third-best grade in deep passing with the highest passer rating of 132.5. His 22% tight window throw rate was the fourth-highest in the NFL last year.
While Jones has a ways to go before we can take him seriously as a quarterback, he has made significant improvements in his young career to not discount him completely.
Narrative 2: There Are Too Many Mouths to Feed on the Giants
As of this article date, there are 12 receivers on the depth chart. Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard are the two most notable returning players from last year while John Ross, Kelvin Benjamin, and rookie Kadarius Toney are among the new names joining Golladay for 2021. Let’s not forget that tight end Evan Engram is still on the roster and the Giants have also added Kyle Rudolph to the TE room.
No argument here. There are a lot of mouths to feed in an offense that ranked 31st pass attempts in 2020.
If we were discussing an average or even slightly above average wide receiver, I would have to concede that the fantasy value would be greatly diminished given the low volume of target share. However, we are not talking about just any wide receiver. Golladay is a unique talent that can be uber-productive on fewer targets and still return high fantasy points.
For example, while with the Detroit Lions in 2019, Golladay was tied 22nd in the league in targets and was only 29th in receptions. Yet, he still finished as the WR6, was sixth-best in receiving yards, and led the league with 11 receiving touchdowns. He also finished 2019 with 18.8 yards per reception, third-highest behind Mecole Hardman and A.J. Brown. He can do a lot with very little and doesn’t need the kind of volume that other receivers need to be productive. He makes his mark on deep receptions and contested catches with a 63.4% reception rate on 41 contested targets in 2019.
Let’s combine what we know of both Golladay and Jones. Simply put, Jones excels in deep passing and tight window coverage while Golladay excels at deep receptions and contested catches.
This sounds like a match made in fantasy heaven.
Golladay has the opportunity to make a statement in the Giants offense as a true alpha receiver on a team that is desperate for play-makers other than RB Saquon Barkley. Golladay may just be the piece the Giants need to finally start stringing together more wins in the NFL.
In this year’s Ultimate Draft Kit, Golladay has an ADP of roughly the middle of the 5th Round in half-PPR formats, which is incredibly enticing. Having the ability to target RBs and WRs in the 1st through 4th Round and grab the high-upside WR in the middle of the 5th Round is a no-brainer. I’m not suggesting you should draft Golladay as your WR1, but his ceiling makes him a powerhouse WR2/3 option.