Fantasy Football Target Practice: The 2020 New York Giants
The next team in our Target Practice series is another NFC East squad. We’ve already covered Philadelphia and Dallas; now we take a look at the New York Giants. The Giants have just about everything we look for in fantasy pass-catchers. They have a young, exciting QB in Daniel Jones, who flashed some talent in his rookie year, a pretty deep WR corps, though no real superstar, a TE with great potential, and one of the best pass-catching three-down RBs in the entire league. They also brought in former Dallas head coach, Jason Garrett, as their OC and Garrett’s offenses have produced some truly great fantasy commodities over the last couple of years. It also helps that Dallas threw the ball 50 more times than the Giants did last year.
The purpose of these articles is to try to determine the target floors and ceilings for each of the relevant pieces in the Giants’ offense. To do this, we will look at the vacated targets and where they might end up, as well as the last couple years of the Giants and Cowboys’ offenses to determine tendencies. Using this info, we can get a good idea of what might be in store for these players in 2020.
While the Giants did not lose any major pieces. they did churn a large part of the bottom of their roster. Normally, this wouldn’t lead to many vacated targets but the Giants also had health issues in 2019, so we have 125 vacated targets from last season. The major contributors to these numbers were the 4th and 5th WRs, Cody Latimer (43) and Bennie Fowler (36), and the 3rd string TE, Rhett Ellison (28). Those 125 targets are a good amount and the possibility of 50 more targets from Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme could mean big things for the Giants’ pass-catchers. A good portion of those targets will find their way back to the starters, assuming they can stay healthy, while a small portion will likely end up with the RBs.
Predicting the target distribution here is like a big game of “Rock-Paper-Scissors”. If one guy hits his ceiling, it will push another guy to his floor, but that guy being at his floor will push another guy to his ceiling. Should be a “fun” guessing game.
Golden Tate– Floor: 100 | Ceiling: 125
Tate has the dual role of probably being the most talented WR on this roster and also being the “slot guy.” Tate was one of the top-rated WRs in the slot last season and basically the only bad thing you can say about him is that he is old (he’ll only be 32 when the season starts). After serving a four-game suspension, Tate played in 11 games in 2019, reeling in 49 balls on 85 targets. In other words, he was averaging almost 8 targets per game and that pretty well establishes his ceiling. Looking at Jason Garrett’s offense is Dallas last year, Randall Cobb was the slot WR and averaged about 5.5 targets per game. Cobb was also very much the 3rd best WR on the Cowboys, so Tate’s floor feels a bit safer than what Cobb did in 2019.
Darius Slayton– Floor: 95 | Ceiling: 120
This is where the fun starts. Slayton was the primary outside WR for the Giants last year and it led to a lot of “boom or bust” performances. He ended the year with 83 targets in 14 games, so that should give us his floor for 2020. However, his ceiling could make him one of the best values in fantasy football right now. In Dallas’ offense last year, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup where the outside WRs, and both finished with over 110 targets. If Slayton outplays Sterling Shepard on the outside, he beat him in both yards-per-target and yards-per-reception last year, he could approach his ceiling and be a version of Amari Cooper in this offense.
Sterling Shepard- Floor: 85 | Ceiling: 125
Shepard is the real wild-card here. In the ten games he played in 2019, he averaged over eight targets per game. He did next to nothing with those 83 targets, finishing with just 576 yards and three TDs, but that did not stop the ball being thrown his way. It is very likely that two of these WRs are going to play at their ceiling and one will play at his floor, just based on what we saw from Dallas last year. Shepard has played better from the slot in his career but he is not going to take that role from Tate, Tate is just better at it. He’ll need to prove his worth on the outside. Even after Tate’s return, the eight targets per game were still there, so it is possible that he hits his target ceiling, he just needs to prove that he can do something with the ball after it’s thrown his way.
Evan Engram– Floor: 85 | Ceiling: 130
While I think Golden Tate is bullet-proof, he is going to hit 100 targets in 2020, Engram could steal enough targets to put Slayton and Shepard at their floors. The TE1 for the Giants was targeted 110 times last year. Engram only played 8 games and accounted for 68 of those targets. If he brings that pace into 2020, and if he can stay healthy, the biggest question of his career, he will lead this team in targets by a lot. If the WRs prove their dominance and Garrett continues to run a lot of two-TE sets, we can look at Jason Witten‘s 83 targets last year as his floor.
Saquon Barkley– Floor: 80 | Ceiling: 100
When writing about the Dallas Cowboys, I stated that Ezekiel Elliott would already be among the league leaders in carries and his targets were just icing on the cake. Now that Saquon has Zeke’s old coach, his write-up could be a carbon-copy. As a rookie, Saquon was targeted 120 times but with his new coach, QB, and deeper WR group, I don’t see that as realistic for 2020. In 2018, Zeke was targeted 95 times under Garrett and that feels like the ceiling we should expect in this offense, with a small bump as a nod to Barkley’s ability as a pass-catcher. For his floor, we’ll just be looking at 2019 for both teams. Last year in Dallas, with a similar team makeup, Zeke was targeted 71 times, and, for the Giants, Saquon averaged five targets per game last year. With the fact that vacated targets often find the RB and Saquon being a better pass-catcher than Zeke, that makes Barkley’s floor a pretty safe 80 targets.