3-Point Stance: Odell Beckham Jr. may not be a top-three fantasy WR
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Monday’s topic: The New York Giants.
While he’ll always be Peyton’s younger brother, Eli Manning won’t always be young. Heading into his age 36 season, amid rumors of diminished arm strength OVER/UNDER 29.5 passing TDs?
Liz – UNDER. After spending much of last winter underthrowing one of the best receivers in the league, questions about Eli’s arm strength have run rampant. Even behind a line Football Outsiders ranks No. 2 in pass protection, the Giants’ signal caller struggled to put up points, passing for barely 4,000 yards. Ben McAdoo wasn’t shy about expressing his frustration with Manning earlier in the spring and the team drafted the buzzy Davis Webb last month. Clearly, the organization is beginning to plan for life after Eli.
In the meantime they’re band-aiding the heck out of the offense, adding red zone threat Brandon Marshall and drafting move tight end Evan Engram. Forgive me for not believing that a 33-year-old WR with diva tendencies and a rookie TE will provide Manning with enough of a boost to clear 30 scores. Furthermore, if Manning is in fact declining, then McAdoo will be forced to run the ball more. Assuming the regression is real, Manning’s days of being a top-ten fantasy producer are over.
Brad – OVER. Etch it in stone, mouth agape Eli will rarely appear this season. Entering Year 4 of Ben McAdoo’s offense and blessed with a loaded arsenal (Beckham/Marshall/Shepard/Engram/Vereen), Manning should be a fixture among the QB1 class. If Perkins adds balance on the ground, it’s entirely conceivable the decorated passer once again crosses the 30-TD line, an achievement he logged three times previously (2010, 2014, 2015).
Yes, Eli isn’t wart free. A season ago, he ranked outside the QB top-15 in several categories including completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. The Giants offense line, though, proved rigid protecting the pocket ranking No. 2 in pass-blocking per Football Outsiders. With that in mind and given the weaponry, the ingredients are in place for Younger Manning to bake sweet numbers. Throw in his durability – he hasn’t missed a game since the Millard Fillmore administration – and 4,000-plus yards with 30-32 TDs isn’t a tequila-influenced prognostication.
Brad – MAKE BELIEVE. After a rocky start and multiple intimate encounters with kicking nets, Beckham made up for lost time by gifting his loyalists THE most valuable WR line from Week 6 on. Over his first three seasons he’s shown to be a consistency king, tucking inside the top-five among WRs each year. That level of steadiness is why many will gladly take the plunge on him again at some point in Round 1 regardless of format. It’s entirely justifiable.
However, it’s highly unlikely I’ll own any Beckham shares in 2017. I’m not dogging the player, I simply prefer dropping a pair of Mikes (Evans and Thomas) ahead of him. Ridiculous? Like dudes wearing rompers? Nope. Bottom line, his 35.4 percent red-zone targets share is unsustainable with Marshall and Engram on roster. His overall workload (169 targets in ’16) will likely sag too. He’ll obviously remain a featured player, but diminished returns in receptions, yards and TDs should be anticipated. Sharpie me for 90 catches, 1,250 yards and 7-8 TDs. Solid, sure, but give me a RB then Thomas at the turn instead (13.6 ADP).
Liz – MAKE BELIEVE. I’m taking OBJ ahead of Julio. Mostly because I think the Falcons offense is going to take a step back without Kyle Shanahan at the helm. But I don’t like him more than Mike Evans, who I have ranked No. 2 overall, just ahead of Beckham.
Putting the offense on his back much of last season, the former Madden cover boy managed double-digit TDs for the third consecutive year. I think that‘s entirely likely again in 2017, but Brandon Marshall is a red zone threat who may poach a few from OBJ (over or under 534 on number of “egos clashing” articles printed before October?). Plus, as I already stated, I think the Giants are going to try to establish more of a run game, which may result in fewer highlight reel moments for the superstar WR.
Evans, on the other hand, is in a great spot. The addition of DeSean Jackson should relieve some defensive pressure and Jameis Winston appears on the precipice of a potential breakout (vs. Manning who’s on the edge of a potential breakdown). Plus, the big man has cleared 12 scores in two of his last three campaigns. Evans’ “brand” may not be as big as Beckham’s, but his fantasy star, at least for the moment, appears slightly brighter.
OVERVALUED/UNDERVALUED/PROPERLY VALUED: Paul Perkins 86.1 (RB29) ADP; Brandon Marshall 66.0 (WR35)
Liz – PROPERLY VALUED. For now. But the media machine is already churning out the Perkins praise, which is sure to send his stock into overdrive. I don’t know if McAdoo’s platitudes are sincere or a confidence boosting strategy, but I do know that Perkins didn’t wow in his freshman effort, failing to find the end zone at all in 2016. Plus, the team added Wayne Gallman in the fourth round of last month’s draft (Perkins was selected in the fifth round last year), suggesting that there might be just teeny bit more competition for the starting gig then they’re currently letting on.
UNDERVALUED. On paper this makes so much sense. But, as we all know, fantasy is more than x’s and o’s. Marshall is an ultra-physical red zone monster. He’s also never played the role of second banana. Plus, he’s 33-years-old and coming off a season that found him battling a litany of maladies. Still, at his current ADP, the value is too good to pass up… because IF this works then it’s going to work well. It’s totally reasonable to expect WR3 numbers from BMarsh… especially in his honeymoon year with a new team.
Brad – UNDERVALUED. Perkins is in the ‘biggest offseason winner’ conversation. Many banked on the front office to address the backfield in the Draft or ink LeGarrette Blount to a short-term deal. Neither happened. As a result, the second-year rusher is in a prime spot to fill the vacated Rashad Jennings role, a gig that yielded 16.6 touches per game last season. Fantasy is all about opportunity and Perkins certainly has a viable one. Yes, his secondary profile induces vomiting, but when gifted double digit grips Weeks 14-17 in 2016, he accumulated an attractive 4.4 yards per carry and 2.5 yards after contact per attempt. He’ll need to improve in the pass catching department, but 250-plus touches are attainable. That reason alone makes him undervalued.
PROPERLY VALUED. At 33 and off a horrendous 2016, Marshall, on the surface, is in the penultimate phase of his career. With plenty of pressure-relieving contributors around him, the environment is exponentially better than what he experienced last year with the Jets. Eli’s competency is also a major upgrade. Owners, though, should perceive him as a WR3. He’ll carve out a formidable red-zone role, but it’s doubtful he surpasses 1,000 yards given the competition for looks. A final tally around 70-875-7 feels right.