Eli Manning has been “Mr. Reliable” for the New York Giants in his career, starting every single game for the franchise dating back to 2005. … Injuries are always a possibility in the NFL, but Manning’s history suggests he can be counted on to suit up when your fantasy team needs him. So what can we expect him to do with his opportunity in 2016?
The Ben McAdoo Effect
According to Manning’s QB Card, he finished as the overall QB10 each of the past two seasons with Ben McAdoo as his offensive coordinator. As you can see, those numbers were upgrades over his 2012 and 2013 seasons before McAdoo arrived. In fact, Manning set a new career high in pass attempts each of the past two years. With McAdoo and Manning now heading into their third year together, we could see even more improvement in 2016.
The OBJ Luxury
There is absolutely no doubt Manning and McAdoo have been aided by Odell Beckham Jr. His first two seasons in the NFL are arguably the most prolific by any wide receiver in history.
Most Rec yds in 1st 2 seasons in NFL history:
1) Odell Beckham Jr.
2) Randy Moss pic.twitter.com/R3pTrBHW5u
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 3, 2016
Along with Beckham breaking Moss’ record for most receiving yards in the first two years to begin a career, he also recorded the second-most catches in NFL history in that same span, trailing only his good buddy Jarvis Landry. These records are even more impressive considering Beckham set them while missing five games due to injury.
Using the RotoViz Game Splits App, we see Beckham’s presence has helped improve Manning’s career numbers across the board. The two have formed one of the deadliest combos in the NFL and many successful DFS players have taken advantage by utilizing a Manning-Beckham stack time and time again over the past two years. However, in season-long redraft leagues where every player isn’t available to you every week, drafting Manning is a cheap way to help your fantasy team gain exposure to Beckham.
A Large Helping of Shepard’s Tye
Second round pick Sterling Shepard will replace Rueben Randle in the Giants’ starting lineup.
Randle showed flashes at times during his stint in New York, but was never able to put it all together. Using the RotoViz Box Score Scout App, we see Shepard shouldn’t have much trouble replacing Randle. The rookie was a more productive college player, especially during his final season at Oklahoma. If you want to have some fun, go back and watch Shepard’s performance against Tennessee last season. NFL.com’s Matt Harmon certainly took notice, having this to say before April’s NFL draft:
Sterling Shepard, oh let me count the ways he impresses. Back in November when charting these players, I had no idea who he was before rolling the tape and pulling out the Reception Perception sheets. He made me take notice immediately, and earned the title of “my favorite” wide receiver in this class. Shepard is bar-none the best route runner coming out of college this year, already showing great ability to execute even the most in-depth and nuanced aspects of route assignments like an NFL veteran.
Revisionist history holds Odell Beckham in, deserved, elite company because of his eye-popping plays and athletic movements. However, what made him such an easy sell right off the bat to NFL scouting departments was his refinement as a collegiate. Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman spoke on him after the draft and called him easily the best route runner among his peer’s in the 2014 class. I’ll never be so flippant to put a prospect in the special air that Beckham holds, but Shepard has that same easy to bite on refinement.
Shepard won’t be unseating Beckham as the Giants WR1 anytime soon, but being compared to his new teammate is certainly a positive. All signs point to Shepard contributing early and often this season.
Then there’s Will Tye, who pleasantly surprised the Giants and fantasy owners in the second half of last season. Using the RotoViz NFL Career Graphs App, we see Tye filled in admirably at tight end once Larry Donnell was lost for the season due to injury.
Despite going undrafted, Tye produced as a rookie at a position where it usually takes at least a year to become fantasy relevant. Tye recorded either five catches, 70+ receiving yards, or a touchdown in all but one of his final seven games of the 2015 season.
Manning clearly benefited with Tye involved. Although his INT rate increased, Manning’s overall numbers were better across the board in the nine games when Tye saw four or more targets.
Playing in the fantasy-friendly NFC East, Manning’s schedule has been pretty favorable over the past few seasons. Pat Thorman’s always helpful Fantasy QB Strength of Schedule Guide for 2016 shows us that nothing has changed this year. According to Thorman, Manning only faces two tough match-ups all season, as he benefits from not only playing against the NFC East, but the NFC North and AFC North as well. Manning also has an enticing schedule during the fantasy football playoffs with games at home against the Cowboys and Lions, plus a road contest against the Eagles in Week 16.
Eli Manning — Top-10 Fantasy QB
Manning is currently the QB10 in drafts according to our 10-team August redraft ADP, the exact spot Manning has finished in each of his first two seasons with McAdoo calling plays. So is Manning being drafted at his ceiling or is overall QB10 his new median with potential for improvement? With Beckham having the potential to go nuclear in any given week, Shepard and Tye likely providing significant contributions, and the possibility of Victor Cruz returning as an added bonus, I can’t fault anyone drafting Manning in hopes of the latter. His sixth-round price tag in our August mock drafts seems very reasonable considering the Giants’ iffy run game and defense. Both should continue to put Manning in positions where he is forced to pass and put up fantasy points. His favorable 2016 schedule should only help. If Eli is able to take advantage, 2QB and Superflex bragging rights could very well be yours at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
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