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Kadarius Toney: Fact or Fiction?

Is the Kadarius Toney breakout for real? @JoeBeldnerFFB takes a deep dive into the fantasy outlook of the captivating rookie.

When talent meets opportunity, great things tend to happen. It is respectable to question the authenticity of a player’s breakout when a favorable opportunity is presented to them. This speculative debate is exceptionally evident in the sudden emergence of the New York Giants’ Kadarius Toney.

The elusive rookie has all of the attributes that a team would desire in a wide receiver. After a head-scratching preseason and a sluggish start to his NFL campaign, Toney has taken the league by storm the last few weeks. Although the targets are bound to decrease, the breakout is genuine for Toney, and he is a player who should be towards the top of your dynasty wish lists.

Toney primarily played quarterback in high school, often flashing his evasive dual-threat ability. As a Florida Gator, he showcased his diverse skill-set lining up as a running back, wide receiver, and even in some Wildcat quarterback formations during his freshman season. After battling injuries for most of his collegiate career, Toney exploded onto the NFL draft scene during his senior season. Playing alongside Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts, Toney led Florida’s electric offense with 70 receptions for 984 yards and ten touchdowns through the air. He was additionally towards the top of his class on special teams in the kick and punt return game.

A New Hope

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick of the first round. The Giants prioritized drafting the electric rookie, making him an essential piece of their revamped offense. After an offseason of minor injuries and tedious contract disputes, Toney missed the majority of voluntary workouts and minicamps. These routine practices, which can often be viewed as mundane, are imperative to the development of young players. These early obstacles also gave the rookie very little time building chemistry with the quarterback, Daniel Jones.

His slow offseason was most likely the primary reason for his lack of utilization in the Giants’ offensive attack to start the season. Over the first three games of the year, Toney was left in the shadows to the likes of more experienced pass catchers. Daniel Jones emerged as a third-year breakout candidate while Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton were hogging up all of the pass-catching spotlight in New York. Heading into Week 4 of the season, the team caught an unfortunate case of the injury bug. After losing Shepard and Slayton to injury, there was a massive void in the team’s receiving department. This was a clear opportunity for Toney to showcase what it takes to be a superstar in this league.

Photo by Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Force Awakens

In Week 4, Toney showed signs of being a different beast. He finished the game catching six of nine targets for 78 yards. Although these statistics are pretty impressive for a rookie, the numbers do not tell the full story here. Against a stout defensive unit in the New Orleans Saints, the rookie created separation off of the line like a ten-year-vet. Once he gets a foot planted in the ground, his change of direction is quicker than a jackrabbit being chased by a coyote. Toney also showcased how special he can be once he gets the ball in his hands. Flaunting a series of slippery spin moves and jukes, Toney reminded everyone why he was such a highly-touted prospect.

Following this performance, Toney garnered the attention of both the media and the fantasy football community. All eyes were ahead to Week 5 to see if the exciting rookie could continue to seize his moment. No matter how high your expectations were for the talented rookie, he exceeded them. In Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys, Toney erupted for ten catches on thirteen targets for 189 yards. He was additionally only a few inches away from a rushing touchdown.

Toney was virtually unguardable in this game. He quickly humiliated multiple defenders and even won most of his matchups against the blossoming star-cornerback, Trevon Diggs. The Giants were already without Shepard and Slayton but also lost Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Golladay to separate injuries. Even though the final score was a blowout, Toney showed up to the plate and hit a grand slam when the team needed him most. The young WR was equally impressive playing on the outside as he was in the slot. If the team continues to line him up all over the field, his fantasy potential will be through the roof.

The Rise of a Superstar

He finished the explosive performance with a bang! No, not the one you would be hoping for. Toney was ultimately disqualified from the contest towards the end of the game for punching a defender in the helmet. He additionally got a bit banged up in this game, escaping with a minor ankle injury. Even after a jaw-dropping performance, the red flags of Toney’s immaturity and injury history left a bit of a lasting impression. These two areas of concern are issues that have stumped his growth for most of his young football career.

Toney is a tantalizing prospect who is beginning to display his true potential. He has the speed, talent, and natural ability to exceed preseason expectations. The things that Toney can do once the ball is in his hands are simply unteachable. He is not a prospect without flaws, but there is rarely a young player who does not struggle with a bit of immaturity. Although the targets are bound to decrease week-to-week, the breakout is for real for the elusive rookie. His price tag might very well be increasing by the day, but with Toney, the juice is well worth the squeeze.

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