The New York Giants could quietly be making a push to become the top NFC East defense. The Giants boast elite talent at all three levels that translate quite well for fantasy football IDP leagues. In this part of the 32 Teams in 32 Days series, we look at which Giants players you should target in your 2021 fantasy IDP leagues.
The Heart of the Defense
We start with the most important IDP position on the field. The NY Giants defense features an elite fantasy LB and a rookie who could hit the ground running if given the opportunity. Let’s take a closer look at this exciting group below.
Simply put, Blake Martinez is a Fantasy IDP stud. A tackling machine, Martinez has spent the last 4 NFL seasons racking up 142+ tackles each season. These numbers have firmly made him a top 3 player in this category in each of those seasons. Martinez has done more than produce eye-popping tackle numbers, though. He has also consistently generated turnovers in the form of both INTs and Forced Fumbles, as well as generated sacks.
Best of all, Martinez has been reliable. He has played all 16 games over each of the last four seasons. At 27 years old, Martinez has shown no signs of slowing down. He is a top 3 fantasy LB and should be treated as the elite superstar that he is.
Ojulari is one of the NY Giants newest additions and is one that fantasy managers should be paying close attention to as we head into the 2021 season – especially for those playing in Dynasty leagues. Ojulari entered the 2021 NFL draft with a first-round projection but fell to the second round, landing with the Giants. While playing for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2020, Ojulari was a dominant defender who produced 31 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles.
He primarily worked off the edge, and the NY Giants hit a home run by landing an edge rusher with the kind of skill that Ojulari brings. Though not yet a proven commodity, Ojulari is a prime candidate for the starting OLB position. He could very quickly establish himself as a key player on this defense. For dynasty purposes, Ojulari is a fantastic stash for 2021. He has tremendous upside and the potential to produce useful fantasy results right away – especially in fantasy platforms that give him dual eligibility.
Wreaking Havoc on the DL
Though not a hot fantasy commodity, defensive linemen need love, too. Especially the elite defensive linemen who separate themselves from the wasteland of other DL, much like the TEs do on the offensive side of the ball. The NY Giants have an outstanding player on their defensive line that deserves a good look heading into the 2021 fantasy season.
Once one of the most highly touted DL prospects in the NFL, Leonard Williams never could quite find himself in the “elite category.” That is, until 2020 where he played his first full season as a New York Giant and produced a career-high 11.5 sacks. Williams also produced 57 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 30 QB hits. He was an absolute monster for the Giants defense and was one of the most transcendent players for the entire defensive unit.
Though some may be skeptical and approach Williams with caution due to 2020 being his lone dominant year, I believe his success will continue into 2021. Williams lined up all over the DL and generated pressure no matter where the Giants used him. His impact on this defense extends far beyond the stat sheet, and the personnel he has around him should help him continue to be one of the top DL for fantasy IDP leagues in 2021.
A Star-Studded Secondary
For fantasy purposes, the NY Giants have two players in the secondary that must be on your radar. One is an elite safety and the other a rising star at the same position. Regardless of which one you choose for your fantasy squad, you’ll be glad they’re on your team when 2021 is all said and done.
One of the most diverse safeties in the league, Jabrill Peppers has become the do-it-all athlete that he was billed to be coming out of Michigan. In each of his last three seasons, he has produced more than 75 tackles and multiple turnovers. The thing that makes Peppers so valuable is his ability to play inside the box and close to the line of scrimmage and his ability to cover the entire field in both the passing game and run game. He is a complete safety, and his game translates into elite IDP fantasy value.
Peppers does more than provide a spark for the defense, though. He also contributes on special teams where he returns punts, which boosts his value in leagues that reward return yards, regardless of position. Peppers is a top 5 fantasy option with great upside if you are looking for a DB for your team. Once again, he should find himself atop the DB rankings and be a hot commodity across all IDP leagues in 2021.
An up-and-coming star, Xavier McKinney may be one of the more unrealized IDP values in the NFL. After missing most of his rookie season due to an off-season foot surgery, McKinney was able to show off why he was one of the best DB prospects in his draft class over the last four games of the season. In those appearances, he was able to rack up 25 tackles, 1 pass defended, and 1 interception, with 16 of those tackles and the interception coming in his last two games of the season.
McKinney plays with great range, reacts quickly to both the pass and the run, and is rarely caught out of position. If McKinney can stay healthy, he should have a great season. He is slated for the starting role and should be a fantasy asset with a very favorable floor value. I expect McKinney to consistently produce good volume for his fantasy squads in 2021.
The NY Giants off-season saw the addition of Adoree Jackson, who could be the key piece the Giants needed to solidify the back end of the defense. With Peppers and McKinney on the back end, the Giants could find themselves having one of the better DB rooms in the league. If Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence can continue to generate pressure upfront, the entire defense will reap the benefits. At every level of the defense, the Giants have game-changing veterans and young talent waiting in the shadows to make a mark of their own. For these reasons, the Giants should be a defense that you take a hard look at when drafting your IDP (or team defense) fantasy squad this season.