The Giants are a very strange team. What team can win a couple of Super Bowls and not look like the best team in their division? But it looks like that is the case again this season.
They didn’t do much on the offensive side in free agency, although it is hard to do that when you spend as much as they did on the defensive side. Instead, they lost Rueben Randle who was better than you probably remember. I don’t see the departure of Randle as a huge loss, but it could affect Eli early in the year.
In the draft, the Giants picked a cornerback with their first pick, Eli Apple. Their next pick, however, was a very relevant player, Sterling Shepard (WR). Shepard isn’t a big guy at 5’10" and under 200 lbs, but, if you watched him in college, he's a very good player. And he should be opposite Odell Beckham, Jr. I believe Victor Cruz won't ever be a viable fantasy option again. That leaves Randle's and Cruz's targets going to Shepard.
They also drafted Paul Perkins (RB) in the 5th round. The Giants backfield has been one of the hardest to figure out for fantasy players. Perkins is a guy to keep your eye on, though. Jerell Adams (TE) was taken in the 6th round, and was thought by some to be the second-best tight end in the draft. The Giants already have Will Tye and Larry Donnell, so I wouldn’t expect much from Adams this season.
Eli Manning (QB) – 4400 yards, 35 TDs, 14 INTs.
Eli is better than we all think. The past two seasons he has passed for over 4400 yards, 30 and 35 touchdowns, respectively, and 14 intercepts in each of those seasons. He finished as the 10th best fantasy QB in 2015 in standard leagues and 9th in 2014. If I was a betting man, and I am, I would bet that Manning won’t be drafted as a top-10 QB this season. He'll end as a QB1 again this season. If you draft QB late, keep Eli in mind.
Rashad Jennings (RB) – 800 yards, 4 TDs, 30 catches, 290 yards, 1 TD.
Jennings played all 16 games last season. That is a significant stat for Jennings. The Giants backs were in an RBBC (running back by committee), so Jennings numbers are pedestrian. He had 863 yards and 3 rushing TDs. Jennings is a player who, if he gets a hold on the starting job, is very good to have week to week. He is injury prone, so having him as one of your key components could become a problem if and when he goes down. Jennings is a good RB3. I believe that he will outperform his projections, but I can’t, in good conscience, give him better numbers knowing his injury history.
Odell Beckham, Jr. (WR) – 95 catches, 1450 yards, 13 TDs.
There's not much to say about OBJ. His line is basically a copy of last year's. There is no player in fantasy football with a higher ceiling than Beckham - not even Antonio Brown or Julio Jones. I have Beckham 3rd in my WR rankings because, while he does have the highest ceiling, there are games where Beckham seems to lose focus. He is part of the “Elite 7,” one of the best 7 fantasy options, and should be drafted within that range.
Sterling Shepard (WR) – 65 catches, 850 yards, 5 TDs.
Shepard is a gamer. I live in Big 12 country so I’ve seen a lot of Shepard. The Giants success offensively could hinge on Shepard. Beckham is going to be a stud, but as I mentioned Rueben Randle was pretty good. Shepard is a different type of receiver than Randle, but he should be able to work inside and still get loose for some big plays. Shepard is my 2nd ranked rookie in redraft leagues. He should fill the “Cruz role immediately and effectively. Don't draft him high, but he could have a big payoff as a late-round flier.
Paul Perkins (RB).
I really like Rashad Jennings. With that said, Jennings has a hard time staying healthy. Perkins, like Jennings, can also catch the ball out of the backfield. While Shane Vereen is the passing-downs back in NY, whichever back gets the 1st and 2nd down work will contribute and be valuable. Perkins is the primary handcuff to Jennings. If Jennings is ineffective or gets hurt, Perkins will immediately become must-own.
Will Tye (TE).
My only real issue with Will Tye is that he is being ranked as a TE1. I see 3 TEs that could, at some point or another, contribute in NY. Tye himself probably has the best mix of talent and experience. Larry Donnell is what he is, and Jerell Adams is young and raw, but full of talent and athleticism. Tye, if given the starting job, could be a nice streaming option, but will never get a ton of traction as long as Donnell and Adams are healthy.
The Giants could hold the key to fantasy success for anyone who believes in their players. If they decide to go with Jennings as the work horse, Jennings becomes a steal in drafts. If they decide to split carries, and Perkins gets the job halfway through the season, he becomes this year's David Johnson. If Eli has an immediate connection with Shepard, he could push Zeke for OROY.
The problem with each of those scenarios is "if". When drafting Giants outside of OBJ and Eli, proceed with caution.