Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
Eli Manning (JAN ADP: 240.33, QB31)
Arguably one of the most surprising feats of the whole 2018 NFL season was Eli Manning starting 16 games for the New York Giants. After starting off the season a woeful 1-8, fans and fantasy owners alike were tossing around the idea of starting Kyle Lauletta in what was a lost season overall for the G-Men. Though never among the true elite at the position, Manning has provided fantasy owners with solid QB2 seasons over his career. As recently as 2015, Eli finished as the QB8 overall in fantasy.
The 15-year veteran actually had a bounce-back campaign in 2018, all things considered. This past season, Eli finished an EPA (Expected Points Added) per attempt of about 0.20. This was actually slightly above the average of quarterbacks with more than 100 attempts (0.16) and bested his previous two seasons (0.04, 0.06). Eli is not the right quarterback for this team to take a true championship jump. However, his play this season was not as bad as some make it out to be.
Heading into 2019, the Giants are a clear favorite to add a quarterback highly in this draft class. I fully expect them to take one of Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray in the first. At the very least, they may look to address their offensive line in round one and grab a mid-tier quarterback prospect in round two. In any event, the Giants will be looking for their future past Eli this off-season.
I expect Eli will start off 2019 as the starter in New York but will eventually hand the keys to the next Giants quarterback during the season. This roster has too much talent to waste another season with. In Superflex leagues, I would be selling for a third-round rookie pick, but a starting quarterback is worth holding onto for anything less. He shouldn’t be rostered over higher upside plays in start-one quarterback leagues.
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Kyle Lauletta (JAN ADP: N/A)
After a full season in the league, we still have no idea how good or bad Lauletta is. Apparently, the Giants didn’t think too highly of their fourth-round pick in 2018, refusing to play him until very late in the season in a blowout against the Redskins. In that game, Lauletta went 0-5 with an interception – not exactly great for a first outing.
With the Giants a near-lock to try to improve their quarterback position this off-season, things are looking bleak for Lauletta to become a usable fantasy asset. In deep superflex leagues, Lauletta is worth a stash in the event the Giants once again pass on the opportunity to draft a quarterback. I wouldn’t put anything past GM Dave Gettleman.
Saquon Barkley (JAN ADP: 1.00, RB1)
Mr. 1.01 himself, Barkley helped so many dynasty teams go from earning the 1.01 to being the favorites to win it all. Barkley is currently the unanimous most valuable player in dynasty according to DLF ADP. While some may still have Todd Gurley or DeAndre Hopkins above him, Barkley is clearly the consensus top dynasty asset. Even as a dynasty owner who generally devalues running backs (#TeamWR), even I can admit to Barkley being the best of the best in dynasty.
So, is there anything I can write about Barkley that you don’t already know? He’s the best size-adjusted athlete at the running back position I’ve personally ever scouted. He’s an elite receiving threat out of the backfield, catching 91 passes in 2018. That’s simply unheard of for a 233-pound rookie. Barkley is the perfect running back in so many ways. I’m not going to spend a plethora of words saying that. However, there’s one aspect to his game that I would like to see improve in 2019: consistency.
Per FFStatistics.com, the above chart shows the percentage of Barkley’s runs that went for a certain number of yards. As shown, Barkley significantly over-indexed league average on runs of two yards or less. Now, he counter-balanced this with a significant number of breakaway runs for long yardage. For most running backs, we’d classify this as unsustainable. For Barkley, I’m unsure.
Much of this poor consistency can be attributed to the Giants’ poor offensive line being unable to consistently set up holes for the elite rookie running back. With the Giants hopefully addressing that position this off-season, we may see an even better season from Barkley in 2019.
However, there’s a chance that Barkley’s long runs are indeed unsustainable. If this happens and he fails to improve his consistency run-to-run, fantasy owners may be left wanting more out of their dynasty 1.01 pick. At the end of the day, however, Barkley remains among the elite players in dynasty fantasy football. Any owner would want the now second-year running back on their team. He’s a proper use of the phrase “generational talent”.
Wayne Gallman (JAN ADP: 237.83, RB93)
Gallman is second-fiddle to a running back who doesn’t ever need to come off the field. Gallman’s a good player who actually put up a pretty impressive rookie season in 2017. A capable NFL-backup, the now third-year back from Clemson would make for a solid RB2 candidate if Barkley were to miss time. The Giants shouldn’t look to further address running back this off-season. There are worse handcuffs to have on deep dynasty rosters.
Odell Beckham Jr. (JAN ADP: 7.50, WR3)
The once ‘lock’ dynasty 1.01 in his own right, OBJ has seen his value fall steadily over the past six months. While still a lock dynasty first-round pick, Beckham has lost his luster as both the top wide receiver and top overall player in dynasty. This dip in value is no doubt due to both the rise of young running backs and Beckham’s inability to put together a full healthy season. Combined with the Giants’ unclear future at quarterback, it’s no wonder dynasty owners are putting him a bit down the rankings.
If you were to look at season-long finishes, Beckham’s performance over the past two seasons looks lackluster at best. Due to injuries, Beckham has finished as the WR83 and WR17 overall in PPR. Not exactly what dynasty owners had in mind drafting him with the 1.01.
However, season-long finishes can often be misleading, as is the case for Beckham. While his yearly finishes don’t inspire many to take him highly in drafts, his points per game tell a different story. Over his career, Beckham has never finished below WR9 in PPR points per game. Despite objectively poor quarterback play over the past three seasons, Beckham has still thrived as an elite WR in the NFL.
Those taking Odell Beckham in the first round of dynasty startups are betting on his points per game history. Having a five-season sample size of success, we can say with confidence that Beckham is an elite wide receiver. With hopefully improved quarterback play in the coming seasons, Beckham’s ceiling is still the WR1 overall in fantasy football. If league mates of yours are disgruntled about Beckham and his recent injuries, now is the time to buy.
Sterling Shepard (JAN ADP: 92.83, WR40)
After three years in the league, Shepard has proven to be a consistent player for both the Giants and dynasty owners. Shepard’s season-long stats are remarkably consistent year over year (below per ProFootballReference). An ideal second wide receiver on a real football team, Shepard boasts a solid PPR floor and decent upside if given a larger role.
Predictably, Shepard’s touchdown rate has declined over the past two seasons as compared to his rookie year. In the 11 games Odell Beckham has missed throughout Shepard’s time with the Giants, the former second-round pick has managed to boost his production slightly (data from RotoViz below).
Overall, Shepard is an ideal WR4-type for dynasty fantasy teams, in my opinion. Being valued as such in DLF ADP, Shepard appears to be properly valued. He is a player who can fill in well during bye weeks or due to injury and has game-to-game upside if others on his team miss time. If you’re looking for upside on your rosters, look to trade Shepard for James Washington or Dede Westbrook. If you’re ok with a consistent 11 PPR points per game with somewhat predictable boom weeks, Shepard is a great asset to have.
Corey Coleman (JAN ADP: 240.33, WR125)
One of the most disappointing prospects in recent memory, Coleman only managed to catch five passes the entire year. Coleman in an unrestricted free agent this off-season, and there’s a chance he’s not on an NFL roster with a strong wide receiver rookie class entering the mix. If you still have him on your roster, he’s worth holding onto until April at the very least. Feel free to cut bait for incoming rookies with higher upside after that.
Cody Latimer (JAN ADP: N/A)
Latimer had a few memorable catches this season, but ultimately Latimer lacks both the floor and upside to be rostered in all but deep dynasty leagues. Latimer is also a free agent this off-season. Of the lesser players on this Giants offense, he’s probably the most likely to be back with the team next season. That has some appeal, but ultimately he’s at best the fifth option on a lackluster overall passing attack.
Bennie Fowler and Russell Shepard (JAN ADP: N/A)
Two veteran journeymen find themselves without contracts as well for the 2019 season. Fowler and Shepard may provide an NFL team decent wide receiver depth, but neither do anything for your fantasy teams. They shouldn’t be on dynasty rosters – if they are – once rookies come into the league.
Evan Engram (JAN ADP: 57.50, TE4)
I was really hoping to get more clarity from Engram this season, but I’m left with the same questions I had at the end of last season with the now third-year tight end. Namely, how will he and Beckham coexist on the field? Engram had a historic rookie season for a tight end; not just anyone could have put up the numbers he did. Much of that production, however, was purely volume based. Engram had 115 targets his rookie season, largely due to Beckham’s absence.
There’s definitely value in having a tight end being able to be thrust into a prominent role in his offense and produce. Looking at Engram’s splits (from Rotoviz) with and without Beckham, the results do not inspire confidence that Engram can sustain his production.
Engram has performed worse in every statistical category with Beckham on the field over the past two seasons. At the high end of the spectrum, Engram’s 13.31 points per game without Beckham would have ranked fifth among tight ends in 2018. However, Engram’s 8.94 points per game with Beckham would have ranked as the TE18.
Assuming health for both players, which Engram can we expect in 2019? I think ultimately it’s somewhere in the middle, but there’s reason to be concerned about the third-year tight end. As the TE4 in January ADP, dynasty owners are valuing Engram at his upside, in my opinion. With Beckham and Engram playing with each other for the foreseeable future, Engram would need to break his historical trends to return value at ADP. It’s certainly possible, but owners should be wary of his floor heading into the offseason.
Rhett Ellison (JAN ADP: N/A)
Ellison has been pretty consistent for the Giants over the past two seasons, catching about 25 passes for 250 yards each season. The veteran tight end may be off the Giants roster, however, in 2019 due to a large $5.75 million cap hit. If the format of your league dictates you should have four to five tight ends on your roster, you could do worse than Ellison. However, he shouldn’t be rostered in more regular dynasty formats.