Fantasy Reaction: Darren Waller Traded to the Giants

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Darren Waller‘s time in Las Vegas is coming to an end after the Raiders traded the 30-year-old TE to the New York Giants for a third-round pick (100th overall) in this year’s NFL Draft. With the signing of free agent Jakobi Meyers, it became clear the Raiders had one too many pass-catchers to deal with and trading the veteran Waller away now made sense given the financials in place. After 2023, the Giants can make a business decision if Waller no longer is able to operate at a high level. It’s essentially a one-year prove-it deal with the potential for the team to restructure moving forward.

Year Team Age Cap Hit Dead Cap
2023 NYG 31 $11,875,000 $8,250,000
2024 NYG 32 $12,000,000
2025 NYG 33 $13,000,000
2026 NYG 34 $15,000,000

If you need any example of why coaching matters in the NFL, look no further than the New York Giants. A year ago, Joe Judge had was running a QB sneak at their own 5-yard line just to be able to punt on 4th down. This past year, Brian Daboll maximized the talent on his roster and helped the G-Men win their first playoff game since 2016. When you look at the 2022 roster, it really is a testament to Daboll and his staff with the lack of offensive talent outside of Saquon Barkley.

At first glance, the landing spot might be a bit disappointing when you consider how low the passing volume was in New York.

NYG 2022 2021 2020 2019
Pass Attempts 25th 15th 26th 9th
Total Yards 18th 31st 31st 23rd
TE Market Share 15.0% 21.6% 27.0% 19.0%

The Giants passing pie is relatively wide open with Darius Slayton, Richie James, and Kenny Golladay(lol) vacating 33+ percent of the targets per our Team Opportunity page in the Dynasty Pass. WRs Isaiah Hodgins and Sterling Shepard were re-signed but Waller is the most talented pass-catcher on the roster heading into 2023. He posted a 23+ percent targets per route run number for three straight seasons before it fell to 17 percent last year when Davante Adams came aboard in Las Vegas. He can certainly hit 20+ percent in New York, a number only eight TEs hit in 2022. Waller remains in the conversation as a top-5 TE. He’s currently going as the TE8 in Underdog Best Ball drafts although expect that ADP to rise with this recent trade. The debate between Waller and the next tier of TEs (Dallas Goedert, Kyle Pitts, Evan Engram) will be worth monitoring as ADPs normalize in the summer.

In dynasty, Waller has one of the wilder stories from out-of-the-league waiver wire fodder to pickup of the year way back in 2019. He quickly established himself as a dominant force as a tier behind Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle. Based on his age and Daniel Jones‘ penchant for low volume, Waller is probably best seen as a fringe top-10 TE when you factor in other TEs with youth (Pat Freiermuth, Cole Kmet, Chig Okonkwo). In our still could have 3-4 years left of fantasy relevance. In terms of trade value, you could possibly get a late 1st round pick (1.10?) for Waller but it is solely dependent on team needs.

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Marc says:

Would have loved to hear you talk about his injury in 2022 and how that plays in, if at all, in 2023. Maybe the absence of mention means you don’t think it plays at all. thanks!

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