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Fantasy Opportunity Spotlight: New York Giants

A team-by-team analysis of coaches’ tendencies and using them to help create realistic fantasy football projections. @TubaDeus takes a look at the New York Giants.

Welcome to the new home of my yearly Fantasy Opportunity series! For those who didn’t see this series on Reddit last year, I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections than your run-of-the-mill analyst. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously, individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach’s scheme and how they like to spread the ball around.

As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I’ll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches’ schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations.

Make sense? Good. Let’s dive in.

Most of my stats are pulled from Pro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.

New York Giants

Last Year’s Accuracy

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Projections1010435 (43.1%)575 (56.9%)35 (6.1%)315 (58.3%)95 (17.6%)115 (21.3%)
2020 Stats966399 (41.3%)567 (58.7%)50 (8.8%)280 (54.2%)83 (16.1%)137 (26.5%)
For league wide stats, see this spreadsheet.

Coaching Changes

The nice thing about being a brand new head coach is that you’re usually cut some slack in year one as you get settled in. Of course, it also helps when your “settling in” year produces the most wins your team has seen since 2016. Finishing 2nd in your division helps too (even if that doesn’t mean much in this case). Such is the life of Joe Judge heading into his second year as head coach of the Giants. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will stick around after turning New York’s defense from a borderline bottom five unit into a borderline top ten unit (at least as far as total points and yards are concerned) in just one season. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will also stick around despite crashing the Giants’ middle-of-the-road offense to the 2nd worst marks in the league.

Jason Garrett didn't get Chargers job, will likely return as Giants  offensive coordinator: Why that's both good ... and bad - nj.com
Associated Press

Coaching History

We noted last year that 2020 would be the first time Garrett would call plays since 2012. Turns out his averages from a decade ago were more indicative of his playcalling in New York than his more recent Cowboys teams. His averages included a 41/59 run-pass ratio and a low-50’s/high-10’s/high-20’s positional target share split between wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends, respectively. Looks pretty similar to that table above, doesn’t it?

The one notable difference is that Garrett’s Cowboys offenses typically put up a little over 1000 plays each year, operating a slow and methodical offense that was able to consistently march downfield. Garrett’s 2020 Giants offense continued the trend of being a little on the slower side, but their play total was severely capped by a defense that just could not get off the field. The offensive line didn’t help themselves either as the pitiful group allowed the second highest sack rate in the league, consistently cutting drives short.

Looking Ahead

It’s clear that New York’s focus this offseason was on the passing game, both on offense and defense. The Giants splurged on receiving weapons and defensive backs in an offseason spending spree, then continued to add more of both (along with pass rushers) in the draft. As noted above, New York’s defense managed to post respectable numbers for total points and yards allowed, but their efficiency at getting opposing offenses off the field was terrible. Hopefully with the additional investment, they’ll be able to post strong numbers in both categories, leading to more drives and total plays for the offense.

NY Giants shouldn't rush into Saquon Barkley contract extension
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

And with all those shiny new toys for quarterback Daniel Jones to throw to, the offense should see some pretty significant improvement as well. Don’t forget the return of star running back Saquon Barkley, either. All in all, this offense looks pretty loaded…until you get to the offensive line. As noted above, they did a very poor job of keeping Jones upright last year, and they did nothing to improve the situation this year other than cross their fingers and hope the young players grow. While it’s possible for that to work out, it’s rarely a winning strategy. Even with all the weapons in the world, there is a high likelihood that many a drive for the G-men will stall thanks to pressure on Jones, limiting their offensive efficiency similar to last year.

When their drives don’t stall, however, there isn’t a clear path to any significant change in positional target shares or run-pass ratio. Sure, the wide receiver additions dominated the headlines, but the addition of better depth and red zone weapons at tight end cannot be understated, nor can the return of a healthy Barkley. And while the return of Barkley would normally signal a shift toward higher run rates, the addition of so many receiving weapons would indicate a more pass heavy approach. All in all, Garrett stuck close to his old averages in his first year in New York and there isn’t much reason to believe he’ll deviate from them in 2021.

2021 Projections

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Stats966399 (41.3%)567 (58.7%)50 (8.8%)280 (54.2%)83 (16.1%)137 (26.5%)
2021 Projections (17 Games)1087452 (41.6%)635 (58.4%)60 (9.4%)307 (53.4%)106 (18.4%)144 (25.0%)

Previous Entry: New Orleans Saints

Next Entry: New York Jets

Find this article helpful? You can follow me on Twitter and Reddit as @TubaDeus, though I spend most of my time on Discord.

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