Right after the news dropped that the Raiders were signing Jakobi Meyers to a three-year, $33M deal – they traded Darren Waller to the Giants in exchange for the #100 overall selection in the NFL Draft. That was the pick the Giants got in return for Kadarius Toney when they traded him to the Chiefs.
Waller has four years left on the extension that he signed in 2022, but none of the money in his contract is guaranteed after 2023. So, the Giants effectively have Waller on a one-year deal with the upside for him to get another long-term extension if he has a big season.
Waller’s fantasy football projection with Giants
The Giants' wide receiver corps is still an open-ended question right now, with Darius Slayton and Richie James still unsigned. Isaiah Hodgins broke out and was a nice part of their offense late in the season with 42/469/5 across 10 games, but both Wan’Dale Robinson (torn-ACL in Week 11) and Sterling Shepard (torn-ACL in Week 3) have health concerns.
All of this leads to Waller being the clear-cut #1 receiving option for the Giants entering 2023.
Before he became the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2017 and the Bills OC in 2018, Giants HC Brian Daboll first spent 2013-16 as the Patriots' tight ends coach. Waller was clearly a target for Daboll and OC Mike Kafka.
This trade to the Giants gives Waller a real chance to bounce back to his 2019-2020 form as the top target for Daniel Jones.
Right now, the Giants have a year-over-year target share vacancy of nearly 30%. Waller just hasn’t been able to stay healthy in each of the last two years, but if he’s able to play in 15-16 games in 2023, then 115-125 targets is his ceiling outcome here with this WR depth chart looking thin again.
After falling well behind Davante Adams as the top receiver in Vegas, this move to New York could end up being the best thing for Waller. He was effectively a slot receiver last year, and I wonder if he’ll play a little more in line for the Giants this coming season.
Last year, Waller ran 61% of his routes from the slot, per Fantasy Points Data. That was the fourth-highest rate among TEs. Yet, Waller was far more effective when he lined up in-line (2.86 yards per route run) than he was in the slot (1.25 YPRR).
Waller running more seam and crossing routes while lined up on the line of scrimmage – and not in the slot – should open up more for the Giants receivers as a whole.
Despite the injuries, Waller has remained a top fantasy tight end when he’s played. He was the TE6 by fantasy points per game in 2021 and was TE7 last season. This opportunity with the Giants gives him a chance at a 25% target share and top-5 fantasy upside at the position.
Raiders fantasy fallout
As for the Raiders, they now have 225 total targets available for the taking from last season – 97 of which were to their tight ends. That’s a whopping 40.5% target share. There is a ton available for Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow to be fantasy viable, while Davante Adams is a lock for his usual 150+ targets.
I’ll bet anything that Vegas drafts a tight end in what looks like a very strong incoming rookie class.
I’ll end up pretty high on Meyers in PPR formats, but probably a bit lower on Underdog’s 0.5 PPR system. 90 receptions are not out of the question if he remains in the slot full-time, but as always, we are worried about his TD ceiling. Meyers ran 69% of his routes from the slot last season in New England. If he scores 3-4 times, it’ll be awfully hard for him to be anything more than a WR3.