2022 NFC East Preview: Fantasy Football Outlook, Sleepers, and Busts

Marc Salazar breaks down the NFC East from a fantasy football perspective.

2021 Review

 

Points per Game 15.2 31st
Offensive Snaps 1,050 24th
2021 Record 4-13 7th
2022 Vegas Win Projection 7 T-22nd

 

The New York Giants finished 2021 with a 4-13 record, their fifth straight season losing season. The team decided to fire Joe Judge, the former New England special teams coordinator, after just two seasons. Judge was the team’s third coach in just six seasons and this time the team’s morale seemed to be at an all-time low. The Giants hired former Bills and Patriots offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as head coach, who installed three coordinators which whom he had no prior working relationship. Mike Kafka from the Chiefs will run the offense, Don “Wink” Martindale from the Ravens will run the defense, and he retained Thomas McGaughey on special teams. Daboll’s willingness to hire coaches based on merit and not a relationship alone is one sign of a positive direction for the team.

The Giants also had a solid off-season, adding two premier players at the top of the draft: defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal. Both players were at the top of many expert draft boards at their position. In fact, the Cowboys leaked draft board had the combo ranked one and two on their own board. In the third, they added Wan’Dale Robinson, a slot receiver and dynamic playmaker out of Kentucky. In free agency, the Giants chose to be conservative but added depth at the offensive line and a starting tight end in Ricky Seals-Jones. Later in the draft, the team strengthened this receiving corps by adding depth at receiver and tight end.

Heading into training camp there is a sense of optimism. The hiring of Daboll has energized the fanbase. Daboll is an engaging coach; just browse his Twitter feed to see how he interacts with fans and motivates his players. The hiring of a terrific staff, a solid draft, and the league’s easiest projected schedule combine to generate a buzz around this team.

 

Passing Game

 

Passing Yards per Game 188.0 31st
Passing Touchdowns per Game 1.4 32nd
Pass Attempts per Game 34.9 T-15th

 

The biggest questions surrounding the team heading into camp all revolve around the development of quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones has not finished a season higher than QB21 in fantasy scoring, and that was in his rookie season. Since then, Jones has finished as the QB23 in 2020 and QB27 in 2021. Many of Jones’s struggles last season can be traced back to a tumultuous, drama-filled season as the head coach struggled to handle the media or manage games. Jones also had one of the league’s least imaginative offensive play callers in Jason Garrett. Garrett spent nearly two full seasons as the OC, and it should come as no surprise that Jones failed to progress. By adding Daboll, one of the coaches most responsible for the development of Josh Allen, the Giants hope they can strike gold just as the Bills have. Of course, Jones is not quite the talent that Allen is, but there is plenty of room for him to grow in a dynamic and functional offense. Jones should be considered in the QB23-25 range, with some upside.

The Giants head into the season with a varied receiving corps but each faces questions to be answered. Kenny Golladay was the Giants’ big off-season signing a year ago, and he promptly had the worst season of his career. Golladay played in 14 games and finished with just 521 yards receiving. Failing to score even a single touchdown was even more concerning, especially considering he earned 11 end-zone targets. The hope is that a new offensive scheme will help Kenny G bounce back in a big way. Golladay has been healthier than most other Giants receivers this off-season, allowing him an opportunity to get plenty of reps in the new scheme. He is a solid option for a bounce-back candidate at a 10th/11th round ADP.

Controversy followed Kadarius Toney from the in-season injuries and a COVID-19 illness to the off-season drama of missing voluntary practices and trade rumors. There is no doubt that when he was on the field, Toney is an explosive play-maker. Toney earned a solid 2.2 yards per route run and was 11th in converting air yards to receiving yards. With the ball in his hands, Toney is electric, forcing 12 missed tackles and converting 21 first downs on just 39 receptions.

Filling out the receiving corps is a mix of veterans that have flashed at times and a rookie slot receiver in Robinson. Robinson is under-sized at just 5’8″ and is destined for a slot-only role, but the team used a high 2nd-round draft pick on the Kentucky receiver. Robinson could earn an immediate role in three-receiver packages but managers should hold off on drafting him until the role is earned. Sterling Shepard is returning from an Achilles injury and has been absent for most of the team’s off-season program. Shepard has been a player who earns targets when healthy but his injury will limit his production if he returns at all. Darius Slayton is now buried on the depth chart, not better than WR4 with a healthy squad. The team also added Seals-Jones in free agency. Seals-Jones has never topped 350 yards or five touchdowns in any full season but he also has not had an opportunity that is expected in NY. For now, he is a tight-end streamer that should be monitored for in-season waivers.

 

Running Game

 

Rushing Yard per Game 99.3 23rd
Rushing Touchdowns per Game 0.5 T-31st
Rushing Plays per Game 24.6 25th

 

Still just 25 years old, Giants running back Saquon Barkley is attempting to bounce back from his worst season as a pro. Barkley began the season strong, with two top-12 weekly finishes in the first four weeks of the year. Then he suffered a low ankle sprain against Dallas in Week 5. Barkley attempted to finish the game and appeared in Week 6, but he scored just one fantasy point in those two contests and missed the next four weeks. Upon his return, Barkley had just one top-12 weekly finish in the final eight games. If healthy, Barkley is in line for a huge bounce-back. The team has a new scheme, and new head coach and they have essentially cleared the roster of nearly all competition. His current RB14 draft cost, a late 2nd or early 3rd price, is intriguing for a player that could lead backs in scoring. Managers looking for upside, and ones that can live with injury risk, should be targetting Barkley at this price.

 

Sleeper

 

Kadarius Toney, WR

Toney is currently being drafted as the WR47 currently in fantasy drafts. He is one player that could finish inside the league’s top-10 wideouts if all breaks well. Toney needs to stay on the field, both by avoiding injury and by earning his coach’s trust, but if he can he has already shown that he can dominate opposing defenses. Toney commanded a 25% target share in games he played, and with this ability to get open, this staff should have no trouble finding ways to get the ball in his hands. Toney is a league-winning type of player, and with so few of these types of players late in drafts, his upside is through the roof.

 

Deep Sleeper

 

Wan’Dale Robinson, WR

Robinson was chosen 43rd overall by the Giants’ new staff, generally, a sign that the new staff has identified a player that they feel could be productive in the offense. Wan’dale profiles as a slot-only player but Daball has coached several productive fantasy starters at the position. With the ball in his hands, Robinson has the potential to break big gains and his WR100 is nearly free at the end of your drafts. What’s more, Robinson has been one of the only healthy receivers on the roster throughout off-season activities, giving him a chance to develop chemistry with Jones.

 

Bust Candidate

 

Daniel Jones, QB

Jones has flashed several times throughout his career, and he adds plenty of value as a rusher, but he has yet to put it all together.  The Giants are hoping Brian Daboll is able to unlock the consistency needed at the position and improve his production as a passer. However, there is still a non-zero chance that Jones just isn’t the guy. The team declined his fifth-year option, asking Jones to prove his worth and earn the job moving forward. While he profiles as a player with room for improvement and fantasy scoring upside, too many times he has let fantasy managers down after his encouraging rookie season.

 

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Ken Murray, Andrew Dieb, Tony Quinn & Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire

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