Giants fantasy football team preview: Is Saquon Barkley 2019's top pick?

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The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the New York Giants.

Ah, the Giants. You know, there was a time when the Jets were the laughingstock of New York. How quickly things seem to change (the Jets aren’t amazing by any means, but there’s been a slight shift in the “Let’s make fun of one of the New York teams” narrative). That laughing has been directed at two men in particular: GM Dave Gettleman and quarterback Eli Manning.

Gettleman didn’t help his cause after trading Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick, but hey, if Jones pans out and OBJ bombs with the Browns, we’ll forget all about it, right?

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Ehhh ... at least they still have Saquon Barkley, who is as much a stud in reality as he is in fantasy.

New York Giants fantasy impact players
New York Giants fantasy impact players

Saquon Barkley, second-year savior

TRUE or FALSE: Barring anything tragic, Saquon Barkley will remain fixed atop your RB ranks through August.

Brad: TRUE. The Supreme Deity of Thighs is sure to be this year’s fantasy Zeus. In a dire situation last year as a rookie, he finished top-10 in broken tackle percentage (21.5), yards after contact per attempt (3.2), elusive rating (67.4) and fantasy points per touch (1.09) — all accomplished behind an offensive line that clocked in at No. 18 in run-blocking efficiency according to Pro Football Focus. His exhaustive 361 touches, 91 of them coming via the pass, and steady century mark yields (13 of 16 games) rubber-stamp him as a rare workhorse and consistency king. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year’s most impressive 2018 stat: On 85 (!) attempts against 8-plus man fronts, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry. You need horse tranquilizers to take him down.

Overall, Barkley is the 1a, Zeke Elliott the 1b in .5 PPR. Just imagine the amount of 3-yard Daniel Jones “lasers” he’s bound to catch.

If not for Saquon and Evan Engram, the Giants would be at the bottom of the East River in fantasy value terms. Confidently draft the RB and watch the stellar numbers roll in.

Liz: FALSE. At the top of my rankings? Of course. ATOP my rankings, well it’s super close, but I have to roll with Zeke as my No. 1 overall pick. Sure, Barkley lit it up last season, gobbling up opportunities, evading tackles (7.1/game), racking up yards, and scoring 15 TDs. But just like winter, a regression is coming. Without OBJ available to stretch the field, Barkley will continue to get fed, but his efficiency also figures to wane … especially as the year wears on.

For example, in two of the last four games of 2018 when Beckham was sidelined, Barkley averaged his worst YPC of the season (2.2 and 2.0). Additionally, nearly half of his preposterous Week 14 rushing total came on a single 78-yard touchdown. Undoubtedly, the Penn State product has breakaway talent, but it’ll be hard to rely on that sort of boom each and every week.

Furthermore, the addition of YAC monster Golden Tate could eat into Barkley’s targets in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Even if Gettleman won’t admit that Eli is washed, he must understand that his QB’s arm strength is far from cannon-like. With a stable of short-area weapons, Eli will spread around the dink-and-dunk love.

Zeke, on the other hand, closed out 2018 with ferocious zeal … and I expect him to pick up where he left off. Once Amari Cooper joined the ‘Boys and Dallas’ offense started to hum, Zeke’s production improved significantly. The Ohio State product rumbled his way to an average of nearly 40 more scrimmage yards per week after Cooper arrived and subsequently began pulling defenders away from the box. Assuming Michael Gallup also continues to progress, Zeke should have plenty of room to run.

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PPR Pick ‘Em

Most bang for your .5 PPR buck: Evan Engram (63.9, TE5), Sterling Shepard (92.4, WR39) or Golden Tate (93.1, WR40).

Liz: STERLING SHEPARD. Engram is too pricey. Tate is a potential value, but for virtually the same price I’ll roll with the known quantity.

A player who has continually improved at the pro level, Shepard has grown into one of the most versatile receivers in the league. His precise route running and expert ball skills have helped him to further gain Eli’s trust, despite the growing number of available pass-catchers. While his target share dipped slightly in 2018, the former Sooner’s contested opportunities grew (up to 26 targets from 9) as did his red zone looks (up to 19 from 11). Additionally noting his increased use outside of the slot, Shepard’s evolution into a potential top-25 fantasy producer appears within reach. FF: 72-898-5

Andy: I cried a little. Just to be clear, I’m not aggressively (or even passively) targeting any of this team’s receivers. I have almost no interest in tying myself to this Eli Manning/Daniel Jones madness. The only high-upside investment in this team is Barkley.

It’s easy to talk yourself into Engram as an every-week tight end, but I kinda hate that he’s TE5 in terms of ADP. I’d want Jared Cook, Hunter Henry and Eric Ebron ahead of him, purely based on team context. I suppose I have to go with TATE as my official answer to this question, because the price is low and it’s easy to imagine him delivering 85 or so short-range receptions in this hellscape of an offense. Woo.

Best Ball Bargain Bin

Andy: Yeah, um ... gross. Am I allowed to pass? I’m passing. Do not want.

Brad: Golden Tate, I guess. Picking a Giants receiver for any exercise is akin to visiting the dentist’s office and deciding between mint or bubble gum polish flavors. No matter the taste, it’s unpleasant.

Tate, who is the cheapest of the established Giants receivers (92.7 ADP, WR40), is the only one worth entertaining. And he’ll be fortunate to compile 70-825-5.

Mad Bets (From FanDuel Sportsbook). NYG 6 wins OVER (+100) or UNDER (-120)

Liz: Yeah, this is an easy UNDER. Last year’s Giants went 5-11 … and that was with a less battered quarterback, a fresh-legged running back, and one of the league’s most dynamic receiving talents. This year’s squad isn’t an upgrade. Looking at their 2019 schedule it’s hard to envision more than four wins. Just look for yourself.

Andy: WHY ISN’T THIS TEAM JUST STRAIGHT-UP TANKING? They should. UNDER.

More Fantasy Team Previews

AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots

NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Washington

AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans

NFC South: Buccaneers | Saints | Panthers | Falcons

AFC North: Bengals | Steelers | Ravens | Browns

NFC North: Lions | Vikings | Packers | Bears

AFC West: Chiefs | Chargers | Raiders | Broncos

NFC West: Rams | Cardinals | 49ers | Seahawks

Follow Brad: @YahooNoise

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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