Early 2016 Projections: The New York Giants, Including a Disappointing Sterling Shepard

Now that the NFL draft is over and the high-impact free agents have found their homes, we can starting doing some early 2016 fantasy football projections. Today: the New York Giants, including a disappointing projection for Sterling Shepard that shows that being a WR2 isn’t that inherently valuable. 

First things first, using our staff projection machine I set some baseline team-wide assumptions:

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For average point margin, I went with the league-wide median as I don’t project the Giants to be a particularly good or bad team. I went with the means of their 2014 and 2015 numbers for pass tendency (how often they pass relative to expectations) and pace tendency (how many total plays they execute relative to expectations). 2014 marks the arrival of both offensive coordinator/head coach Ben McAdoo as well as Odell Beckham.

Quarterback

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I again went with the means of 2014 and 2015 for Eli Manning’s sack rate and interception rate. His projection is also informed by the projections of his receivers.

This projection is pretty favorable for Eli, with over 4,500 yards and more than 30 TDs. It would be the second highest yardage and TD totals of his career. But it should be noted that Eli isn’t particularly cheap. He’s currently being drafted as the QB10, per the Best Ball ADP App. He only comes out as the QB14 in my projections and this projection may be close to his ceiling. I might get some exposure to Eli if he falls, but he’s not a target of mine.

Wide Receivers

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I went with the means of 2014 and 2015 for Beckham’s target share, yards per target, TD rate, and catch rate. This projection works out to 22.9 PPR fantasy points per game. For context, Beckham scored 21.3 PPG in 2015 after scoring 24.8 PPG in 2014. 22.9 PPG would have made him the WR3 last season behind only Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. Along with those two, Beckham should be a top three pick in every PPR league this year.

People like Sterling Shepard in redraft because he’s the clear cut WR2 behind Beckham (or at least they think he is). But as this projection shows, that role isn’t inherently valuable. I set Shepard’s catch rate and target share to the league-wide medians for a WR2, which may be overly optimistic for a rookie. I set his yards per target and TD rate to the 25th percentile. At only five-feet-10-inches and 194 pounds, Shepard doesn’t profile as a very good TD scorer. I set his yards per target low because he’s a rookie and because he didn’t profile as a fantasy success as a prospect in general because of mediocre age-adjusted production. Shepard is currently being drafted as the WR40. For context, no WR with fewer than 700 yards from scrimmage finished better than WR43 last season.

For WR3, I just went with the means for that position over 2014 and 2015 rather than projecting any particular player, such as Dwayne Harris or Victor Cruz.

Tight Ends

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I listed Will Tye first here but don’t put much stock into that. I really have no idea how this situation will play out. I just gave Tye the means for the TE1 over the last two seasons and Larry Donnell the means for the TE2 over the last two seasons. I wouldn’t actually be surprised if Donnell ends up being the TE1. I like Tye a lot as a breakout prospect, but some more recent chatter has favored Donnell.

One thing I should note is that when I’ve done some big picture analysis of my projections I found that my TE projections are probably overly conservative on a player-by-player-basis. That seems especially relevant in this situation. If you just add these projections together you get 12.3 PPG. That would have been good for TE8 on a per game basis last season. If one of these guys can take the job and run with it I like them to have a lot of value. This is a situation to keep a close eye on.

Running Backs

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I don’t find this backfield as muddled as some do. I think Rashad Jennings will be the primary rushing back and Shane Vereen will be the primary receiving back. Paul Perkins is a fifth-round pick who isn’t particularly big or athletic and just had great but not exceptional college production. Maybe he’ll have some relevance down the road, but I’m not anticipating any significant production anytime soon.

For Jennings, I went with the means of his 2014 and 2015 numbers for both his receiving and rushing inputs.1 This gives him over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 11.8 PPG. Jennings is currently being drafted as the RB36 and there is minimal downside at that price.

For Vereen, I just went with his 2015 numbers. There haven’t been any huge changes in offensive personnel since last season, the biggest probably being that they swapped Rueben Randle for Shepard, so that seemed fair. I could make the sample larger by including past seasons, but Vereen spent those seasons in a premier Patriots offense so I decided to exclude them. Because swapping Randle for Shepard could be a downgrade (and probably is), I could see Vereen being more involved in the passing game than is projected here. Vereen is currently being drafted as the RB46. For comparison’s sake, Danny Woodhead and Theo Riddick are currently being drafted as the RB20 and the RB33, respectively. As a matter of value alone, I’d rather have Vereen and hope he increases his usage rather than drafting either of those players and hoping they retain their usage.

For the RB3, I just went with the league-wide medians for that role.

  1. Yards per carry, yards per target, rushing share, target share, TD rate, catch rate.  (back)
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