Before the 2022 season kicked off, I wrote a piece dissecting the New York Giants in terms of fantasy football. I thought the Giants had a sneakily interesting season ahead of them with a new regime, multiple first round draft selections, and a healthy Saquon Barkley. Now that the Giants’ season has officially ended, it’s time to write a review on the accuracy of the insights in my preview.
The main premise of my article was to encourage drafters to stop ignoring the Giants’ players in fantasy drafts completely. The only Giant being drafted inside of the top 100 was Saquon Barkley, and even the prolific running back wasn’t snatched until the third round for most of the draft season. The only squads with similarly little fantasy intrigue were the Texans, Titans, Bears, and Falcons. If the validity of the argument in my article was only based off the final fantasy points per game that each team scored during the regular season, it would be proven accurate:
As displayed in the graph, the Giants substantially outscored every other team that received little consideration during the fantasy offseason. In fact the fantasy community got all four other teams almost exactly right, with the Falcons, Texans, Bears, and Titans finishing 27th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd. The only position keeping the Falcons outside of the bottom five was their top ten run game. The Giants, finishing 19th in fantasy points per game, may still not have been worth a large portion of your pre-draft attention, but being close to an average team, the Giants should not have been completely disregarded in drafts like the other four. However, this holistic approach doesn’t reveal the whole story on the Giants’ fantasy impact, or necessarily make my earlier article overwhelmingly accurate. For further analysis, let’s observe my observations and suggestions on a closer scale.
Brian Daboll Makes Daniel Jones Fantasy Relevant in 2022
After his first three years in the league, the fantasy/NFL community was ready to write Daniel Jones off as another draft bust. Jones didn’t lead the Giants to a single playoff berth and the offense generally looked incompetent every year, especially without a healthy Barkley in 2020 and 2021. I can’t blame anyone for losing faith in Jones, three years is usually enough to pass judgment on a guy, and Jones accomplished nothing to earn high expectations. However, I said it in August and I’ll say it again, everyone completely overlooked the arrival of Daboll as well as Jones’ similarities to Josh Allen. Daboll installed a system that allowed Jones to utilize his legs and kept secondaries off balance even with nobodies at receiver, which in turn created space on the ground that Barkley hadn’t seen in years. The impact of Daboll’s insertion as head coach on Daniel Jones can be best represented by the graph below:
Jones more than doubled his EPA/CPOE composite of any previous year. This not only made Giants’ fans ecstatic after it guided the team to its first playoff appearance in six years, but thrilled fantasy owners too, as Jones finished fifth in QB scoring per game despite being drafted outside of the top twenty. I recall advocating for Jones, especially in best ball formats, where he certainly could have been a league winner if you picked him up in the late double digit rounds. If you picked Jones of the waiver wire early in the season, you not only found a weekly streaming option, but an every week starter. Sure, Jones’ variance throughout the season certainly frustrated fantasy owners at times, but outside of the four guys ahead of him, who any fantasy footballer could immediately name, every quarterback was inconsistent. At least Jones carried a lofty weekly upside. It’s arguable whether Jones actually took a big step up as a quarterback or if it was just Daboll’s system that elevated Jones, but that doesn’t have a place in this article, although based on what I’ve observed I would guess the latter. Either way, it proves that Jones wasn’t the bottom 5-10 starter most people thought he was prior to 2022. It’s also a great reminder for fantasy footballers to at least take note when there’s a promising coaching hire in the NFL. If I got one thing right from my pre-draft article, it was the upside of Daniel Jones this year.
Saquon Barkley Returns to Form in 2022
It was no surprise that drafters finally pushed Barkley out of his usually first round ADP, but it didn’t really make sense. Barkley was undoubtedly in a better position to succeed in 2022 than he ever was in 2021, only a year removed from his torn ACL and still attached to Joe Judge. After 2021 turned into another sour year for Barkley drafters and his draft stock fell almost a whole round in 2022. Managers didn’t want to be burned by injury again, which is understandable, but overlooked the fact that two years passed since Barkley’s last serious injury and a new coach came to New York. Similarly to Jones, Barkley drafters ignored the possibility of an improved scoring offense while letting emotion override logic when considering Barkley’s injury history. The cost of this ignorance was missing out on a late second to early third round back that finished fifth at his position. Barkley’s ROI doesn’t quite carry league winning status, but if you paired him with a quality first or second round pick it would have been tough to miss the playoffs. The one thing concerning about Barkley’s fantasy outlook moving forward assuming he re-signs with the Giants is his involvement in the passing game. As Barkley continues to age, we want to see his fantasy production rise through the air because taking hundreds of more body blows in the trenches will deteriorate him quickly. Even when Barkley has noticeably slowed down, a strong pass catching role could cement him as a relevant option through his next contract. However, his receiving involvement increasing isn’t very promising:
Since Saquon was in peek shape his rookie year with ultra conservative Eli Manning, he’s run about three less routes per game excluding his 2020 season in which he played about six quarters. While maintaining over 15 routes run per game is still outstanding, there is some reason for concern. With Jones’ developed as a running QB, I predict Barkley’s routes will become less valuable. I also believe Daboll values his skillset as a rusher more than a receiver, and could look to rest him more often on third downs or even scout a pass catching RB in this year’s class to handle part of the responsibility. Let’s hope that Daboll wants to preserve Barkley as much as we do, but considering that he ran Barkley into the ground during the first half of the season before realizing he needed to let up, I kind of doubt it.
Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay Should be 2022 Fantasy Targets…
To be fair, these two suggestions were based on upside, but sadly both bottomed out on their non-existent floors. Kadarius Toney makes defenders look silly when he’s healthy and has the ball in his hand. Unfortunately, neither of those things happened again this year besides a few splash plays he managed to earn with the Chiefs. Although a complete bust, taking Toney in the tenth round didn’t destroy fantasy rosters this year. My hopes for Golladay in 2022 were probably just wishful thinking. I thought that like Jones and Barkley, Golladay could benefit from the coaching change, displaying his once prolific downfield contested catch abilities. However, the new regime made even less effort than the previous to get Golladay involved signaling the WR is truly washed. The WR position is where my advocacy for the Giants’ players in fantasy went wrong this year. From Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson when healthy, to guys like Darius Slayton, Richie James, and Isiah Hodge, all contributed to the offense enough to not make a single one a very exciting fantasy option. All of them were decent streaming options, and Robinson probably would have been an every week starter if he stayed healthy, but outside of best ball they weren’t worthy of draft consideration. Unless the Giants spend high draft capital at the WR or TE position in the 2023 draft, it’ll probably be for the better to search for these guys on the waiver wire rather than prioritize any of them in drafts, with the exception of Robinson. While the advice to look for Golladay at the end of fantasy drafts was bad, here’s a reminder of how much worse the Giants’ signing of Golladay is:
- New coaches can help surface unrealized potential in a QB and the entire offense, which creates buy-low opportunities in Fantasy
- Fantasy is about winning your league, not avoiding losing. Take chances on talented players whose opportunity cost drops lower than it logically should because of past injuries
- Offensive environment is crucial for a player’s success in fantasy, but if the players at one position are mediocre, a narrow target tree is unlikely to develop enough to lead to highly impactful fantasy returns at that position
Thanks for reading! Below is a link to the New York Giants fantasy preview for reference.