2023 Franchise Focus: New York Giants


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2023 Franchise Focus: New York Giants

One of the NFL’s surprise teams in 2022, the Giants made it all the way to the Divisional Round of the playoffs in Brian Daboll’s first year as head coach, despite the weaponry around QB Daniel Jones being among the worst in the NFL.

Jones impressed GM Joe Schoen enough to earn a big-money contract extension, though it’s another contract situation — the unsigned franchise player Saquon Barkley — that is hanging over this team from a fantasy perspective.

Will Saquon sign? Will new TE Darren Waller be the #1 receiver Jones has lacked his entire career? And can the Giants progress into a legitimate contender?

Listen to the accompanying Franchise Focus podcast with ESPN’s Jordan Raanan

The Betting Basics

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)7.5 (-106/-114)
NFC East+750
Playoffs (Y/N)+184/-230
NFC Championship+2200
Super Bowl+4500

Season Prop Movement

Win Total: 8.5 (+105) in late March to 7.5 (-106)

Super Bowl: +4000 in mid-February to +4500

Projected Fantasy Contributors

All ADP is from Underdog Fantasy as of publication date.

Daniel Jones (Proj: QB10 | ADP: 113 | Pos ADP: QB14)

Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll didn’t know what they had in Jones when they decided to decline his fifth-year option last spring. Daboll and OC Mike Kafka coaxed a career year out of the 2019 sixth overall pick, which resulted in the franchise’s first postseason action since Eli Manning raised the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the 2011 season. Jones revived his career after the Giants declined his fifth-year rookie extension with career-bests in passer rating (92.5), completion percentage (67.2%), INT rate (1.1%), and rushing production (708/7). The Giants rewarded him this off-season with a four-year, $160 million deal with $82 million fully guaranteed. Overall, Jones completed 317/472 passes (67.2%) for 3205 yards (6.8 YPA), 15 TDs (3.2%), and five INTs (1.1%). He added 120/708/7 rushing to finish as the QB9 with 18.6 FPG in 16 contests. Jones had three weekly finishes as a top-five fantasy QB and seven finishes as a top-12 option. His INT rate has shrunk in each of his first four seasons (2.6>2.2>1.9>1.1), and he’s lost just three fumbles in each of the last two seasons after losing 11 as a rookie. He took a massive step forward as a runner but has yet to make much progress as a passer, averaging a career-low 200.3 passing YPG. Jones has only 36 passing TDs and a 2.8% TD rate in his last three seasons after throwing for 24 scores with a 5.2% TD rate as a turnover-prone rookie. He’s also yet to average more than 6.8 YPA in each of his first four seasons. Jones will be hard-pressed to match his 7.1 FPG as a runner from his first season under Daboll. He at least has room to grow as a passer with an improved receiving corps after averaging less than a touchdown pass per game.

Tyrod Taylor (Proj: QB58 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: N/A)

Taylor signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Giants last off-season to be a veteran insurance plan for Daniel Jones. His services weren’t needed with Danny Dimes leading New York to the postseason — Tyrod took just 32 snaps and attempted only 8 passes in three appearances. His lone extended stretch as a starter came in Buffalo in 2015-17 where he averaged 201.3 passing YPG, 1.2 passing TDs per game, and 17.4 FPG over 44 games. It’s Taylor’s legs that make him a compelling fantasy option when he starts. He posted 17 rushing TDs and averaged 34.3 rushing YPG and 5.4 rushing FPG in his 53 career starts. It’s not out of the question that Taylor would be a streaming option in the right matchup if Jones missed time this season.

Saquon Barkley (Proj: RB5 | ADP: 18 | Pos ADP: RB6)

Barkley picked a perfect time to have his first healthy campaign since breaking into the league after missing 21 games for knee and ankle injuries in 2019-21. With healthy legs once again, Saquon’s explosiveness returned to his rookie season levels when he racked up 2000+ scrimmage yards and 15 TDs in 2018. He finished with the sixth-most runs of 10+ yards with 32 and ranked behind only Nick Chubb with 21 runs of 15+ yards. His resurgence played a large role in New York clinching their first playoff berth and winning record since 2016 — he accounted for 30.6% of New York’s yards in his 16 games. Barkley posted 295/1312/10 rushing (4.4 YPC) and 57/338/0 receiving (5.9 YPR) on 76 targets (15.2% share) to finish as the RB5 with 16.0 FPG. He played on 80% of the snaps with a 59.1% carry share and ran 299 routes (18.7 per game) in 16 contests — he skipped a meaningless season finale. Barkley had four weekly finishes as a top-five RB, eight finishes as a top-12 option, and 13 finishes as a top-24 fantasy RB. Barkley is locked into one of the few true bell-cow roles after leading the position in snaps (856) even while sitting out a game. The Giants franchise tagged him but he’s searching for a long-term contract heading into 2023. He’s a rare running back who’s the face of a franchise, and his contract situation is fascinating since Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen seem less inclined to break the bank for a running back. It would be surprising if he holds out into the season, but he said “that’s a card I could play” back in June.

Eric Gray (Proj: RB68 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: RB81)

The Giants lacked depth behind Saquon Barkley last season, and they did little to address the issue this off-season outside of drafting Gray in the fifth round. He enters the league after posting 99/827/5 receiving in 45 games over four seasons with Oklahoma (2021-22) and Tennessee (2019-20), and he broke out as a runner in his senior season with 213/1366/11 rushing. He failed to impress in the pre-draft process with a disappointing 4.62-second 40-time at 5’10”, 210 pounds at his Pro Day. Our Brett Whitefield wrote in the 2023 Prospect Guide that Gray has a three-down skill set with some upside as a receiver, but he had issues in pass protection and struggled after contact as a runner. Gray has a chance to emerge as the #2 back behind Barkley, but he’ll have to impress early on to become a true three-down handcuff with Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell in the mix. This is a competition to keep an eye on with Barkley in search of a long-term contract after the Giants placed the franchise tag on him this spring.

Matt Breida (Proj: RB3 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: RB94)

Breida has found a spot in Brian Daboll’s stable of players since latching on with the Bills in 2021 and following his HC to New York last season. Breida and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $2.3 million in incentives this off-season. He finished with 54/220/1 rushing (4.1 YPC) and 20/118/0 receiving (4.6% share) and owned a 23% snap share and a 10.4% carry share with 113 routes (6.6 routes per game) as Saquon Barkley’s top backup in 2022. The Giants drafted Eric Gray in the fifth round to give this backfield more depth with Barkley currently on the franchise tag and Breida ideally more of a third option. Breida will likely enter training camp as the #2 RB but New York will give Gray every opportunity to be the top backup. There’s an outside chance Barkley’s contract situation spills into training camp or even the season, which means Breida could have a bigger-than-expected role in September with Gray learning the NFL ropes.

Parris Campbell (Proj: WR71 | ADP: 175 | Pos ADP: WR77)

The Giants went bargain hunting at wide receiver and landed the Colts’ 2019 second-round pick to add to their collection of slot WRs, handing him a one-year deal with $3 million guaranteed that’s worth up to $6.7 million in incentives. Campbell finally strung together a full season with good health, playing all 17 games in 2022 after appearing in just 15-of-49 contests in his first three seasons (30.6%). He went back to his slot-only receiver with the NFL’s fifth-highest slot rate (81.0%) slot rate. The change resulted in his aDOT plummeting from 12.2 yards in 2019-21 to 6.7 yards in 2022 as he became an underneath target with Alec Pierce joining the Colts. Campbell had three receptions of 20+ yards on 91 overall targets (3.3%) in 2022, compared to three receptions of 20+ yards on 20 targets (15%) in 2021. Campbell posted 63/623/3 receiving (9.9 YPR) on 91 targets (14.2% share) to finish as the WR58 with 6.9 FPG. He played on 85% of the snaps and ran 569 routes (33.5 per game) in 17 contests. He had three finishes as a top-12 option and six finishes as a top-36 WR. Campbell caught 69.2% of his passes and reached 40+ receiving yards nine different times, but he needed major volume to get his numbers with an ugly 1.09 yards per route run average. Campbell settled for a one-year deal because of his early career injury issues, but he at least landed in a passing attack that’s sorting through who its top WR will be this season. He seems likely to do a little of everything since the Giants already have Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, and Jalin Hyatt in the slot, and Campbell even worked out of the backfield during OTAs. Campbell could become one of the top threats in this passing game, but this WR corps seems destined to spread the targets around to all of its different parts.

Isaiah Hodgins (Proj: WR78 | ADP: 175 | Pos ADP: WR76)

Hodgins spent the majority of his first two-plus seasons on the Bills practice squad after Buffalo selected him in the sixth round in 2020. In dire need of WR help last season, Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen snagged their former project from the Bills practice squad, and they thrust him into the lineup starting in Week 10. He led the Giants WR with 9.8 FP in 10 games (postseason included), totaling 42/459/5 receiving on 59 targets. Overall, Hodgins posted 37/392/4 receiving (10.6 YPR) on 48 targets (12.8% share) to finish as the WR54 with 7.5 FPG in the regular season. He ran 243 routes (24.3 per game) in 10 contests between the Giants and Bills and owned a 78% snap share with the Giants. He had one weekly finish as a top-five fantasy WR and four finishes as a top-36 WR. Hodgins, who checks in at 6’4”, 210 pounds, saw the most end-zone targets (4) for the Giants from Week 10 through the postseason. The Giants are loaded with secondary options at wide receiver, but Hodgins and Darius Slayton have slightly easier paths to playing time as primarily perimeter options — he ran 82.2% of his routes out wide with New York. It’s difficult to have any faith in any Giants WR for fantasy before the 2023 season starts since the Giants had the 11th-worst pass rate (52.9%) and the eighth-fewest pass attempts per game (30.6). Daboll should open up the offense more in his second season after inking Daniel Jones to a four-year deal this off-season, and Hodgins is ascending after an invisible start to his career.

Darius Slayton (Proj: WR83 | ADP: 201 | Pos ADP: WR84)

The new Giants regime didn’t have a role for Slayton out of training camp, and he took a $1.5 million pay cut to remain with the team. HC Brian Daboll then made him a healthy scratch in the season opener against the Titans as Slayton found himself behind the likes of Kenny Golladay and David Sills to open last season. He eventually worked his way into a significant role by Week 4 because of injuries, trades, and his own strong play. Slayton earned a two-year, $12 million contract with $4.9 million guaranteed for his play last season. He posted 46/724/2 receiving (15.7 YPR) on 71 targets (14.0% share) to finish as the WR61 with 6.7 FPG. He played on 65% of the snaps and ran 366 routes (22.9 per game) in 16 contests. He had one weekly finish as a top-12 option and six finishes as a top-36 WR. Slayton has quietly put together three campaigns with 46+ receptions and 724+ receiving yards in three of his first four seasons. He’s never been a major target earner with 5.2 targets per game average, but he’s made his looks count in his first four seasons. He finished with career-bests in YPR (15.7), yards per target (10.2), yards per route run (1.79), and aDOT (14.4) in 2022. Slayton and Daniel Jones have developed a strong rapport since coming into the league together in 2019, but it’s going to be difficult to stand out in ​​this WR corps that’s loaded with a bunch of #3 WR types.

Wan’Dale Robinson (Proj: WR84 | ADP: 197 | Pos ADP: WR83)

The Giants went a little off the board when they selected Wan’Dale 43rd overall in 2022, and he’s already a bit of a forgotten man heading into his second season. It’s not entirely his fault after suffering a knee injury in the season opener and missing four games before tearing his ACL in Week 11. The late November injury put him in a time crunch to be ready for the start of the season, and he’s a candidate to open the year on the PUP list. Robinson posted 23/227/1 receiving (9.9 YPR) on targets (17.6% share) to finish as the WR61 with 6.7 FPG. He played on 56% of the snaps and ran 126 routes (21.0 per game) in six contests. Robinson, who comes in a pint-sized package at 5’8”, 185 pounds, was strictly a slot-only player with 81% of his routes coming from an inside alignment. His aDOT sat at just 5.7 yards but he earned targets when healthy with .24 targets per route run and a solid 1.80 yards per route run (per Fantasy Points Data). He’ll face more competition for snaps and targets with Parris Campbell, Sterling Shepard, and Jalin Hyatt all in the mix as slot options. The Giants also traded for Darren Waller to make his path to fantasy relevance much tougher in his sophomore season.

Jalin Hyatt (Proj: WR93 | ADP: 193 | Pos ADP: WR82)

Hyatt had a quiet first two seasons at Tennessee before coming out of nowhere to win the 2022 Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the top receiver in college football. He set Tennessee’s single-season receiving touchdown record with 15 scores on his way to 67/1267/15 receiving (18.9 YPR) in 12 contests. He finished with per-game averages of 5.6 receptions, 105.6 receiving yards, and 1.25 touchdowns as a true junior. Hyatt dominated the combine with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, an 11’5” broad jump, and a 40” vertical jump at 6’0”, 176 pounds. He predominantly worked out of the slot at Tennessee, and the Giants already have four primary slot WRs in Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson, Parris Campbell, and Jamison Crowder. His path to playing time is a little easier if he plays more on the perimeter at the NFL level with just Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins working as outside receivers. Hyatt is in a tough spot to immediately emerge as a reliable fantasy option in a deep receiving corps, but he could have some spike weeks as a rookie because of his elite vertical skill set.

Darren Waller (Proj: TE8 | ADP: 81 | Pos ADP: TE7)

The Giants desperately needed to upgrade their receiving corps, but this year’s WR free agency class lacked difference-makers. New York turned its attention to the trade market to land one of the league’s premier TEs when he’s been healthy. Waller posted consecutive seasons with 90+ catches and 1100+ yards in 2019-20, when he finished as the TE5 and TE2 in FPG, respectively. He mustered just 83/1053/5 receiving in 20 combined games over the last two seasons. Waller posted 28/388/3 receiving (13.9 YPR) on 43 targets (13.0% share) to finish as the TE10 with 7.9 FPG. He played on 58% of the snaps and ran 241 routes (26.8 per game) in nine contests. He had two weekly finishes as a top-five fantasy TE, four finishes as a top-12 option, and just five finishes as a top-24 TE. Waller has the chance to return to #1 receiver status in a Giants’ receiving corps lacking top-end talent. Daniel Bellinger led New York TEs with 35 targets, and the group overall finished with the fewest targets at the position. Dawson Knox finished as the TE9 (10.9 FPG) with 49/587/9 receiving in Brian Daboll’s final season with the Bills in 2021. Evan Engram also previously posted a solid 5.9 targets and 3.5 receptions per game playing with Daniel Jones in 2020-21 under dysfunctional conditions with Joe Judge. Daboll should open the offense more in his second season working with Danny Dimes. Buffalo’s pass rate rose in each of Daboll’s first three seasons working with Josh Allen, going from 29th (53.6%) in 2018 to 26th (55.0%) in 2019 and to 11th (61.7%) in 2020. Waller, who will turn 31 years old in September, is in a spot to bounce back but his body needs to cooperate after an injury-riddled last two seasons.

Daniel Bellinger (Proj: TE47 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: TE43)

Bellinger had a sizable role right out of the gates after the Giants selected him in the fourth round out of San Diego State. He was trending toward fantasy relevance by the end of October after posting a season-best 12.3 FP on a 94% snap share against the Ravens in Week 7, but he suffered a fractured eye socket early the next week to halt his momentum for a month. Bellinger posted 30/268/2 receiving (8.9 YPR) on 35 targets (9.3% share) to finish as the TE25 with 5.1 FPG. He played on 72% of the snaps and ran 248 routes (20.7 per game) in 12 contests. He had two weekly finishes as a top-12 fantasy TE and six finishes as a top-24 TE. Bellinger saw just 1 end-zone target, and his role in the passing game will shrink with the Giants trading for Darren Waller, who will be the team’s #1 target when healthy. Bellinger could be thrust into a bigger role at some point with Waller missing 14 games the last two seasons with the Raiders, but he’s unlikely to be an impact fantasy option if it happens in this weaker passing attack.

Hansen’s Final Giants Points

I was optimistic last year that new HC Brian Daboll could get Daniel Jones under control and that they could design a good offense for him, and that’s exactly what happened. This year, with better weapons, the plan is to get Jones to let it rip more. Considering how he was a QB1 despite a weak receiving corps last year, Jones does feel a little too-good-to-be-true with an upgraded receiving corps this year. But if Darren Waller manages to play 14-15 games and they also get that many games out of Saquon Barkley, Jones’ passing numbers have to increase considerably, especially his YPA (a weak 6.8 last year) and TD% (a weak 3.2% last year). That would come at the expense of his rushing production, but he’s still a good bet to add 50+ FP to his totals with his legs. I don’t totally trust him on a week-to-week basis, and he still has some things to prove as a passer, but I’m very confident that our 3895/20 passing and 565/4 rushing projection accounts for his downside and is extremely fair. And those projections get him to QB10 on our board, which is ahead of his QB14 ADP. Jones is a very viable option if you hold off on QB1 later than all but 1-2 teams and/or if you get sniped in a major QB run.

Starter Daniel Jones has not been impervious to injury, but it’s not like backup Tyrod Taylor is worth a late pick as a handcuff, unless you’re talking about a deep 2-QB league where 50+ QBs get drafted.

I’ve never been a big Saquon Barkley guy, but my reasoning is immaterial because he’s an offensive weapon who’ll get 20+ opportunities every week, and he produces when healthy. I don’t think we’re in danger of a prolonged holdout, but that would increase his downside for me if he missed more than a week in camp. Otherwise, it’s simply a matter of health. If he enjoys it, he’ll deliver similar results to last year. If the injury bug bites him badly again with a serious ailment, he’ll be a bust again. The question is whether or not his ADP reflects his upside and downside, and I’d say it does, especially since it’s nearly identical to last year’s ADP when he wasn’t coming off a healthy season. We are slightly over the markets as of 7/10 as our RB5 and at 13 overall (ADP: RB6, 18 overall). I don’t see us ranking him any higher than we are heading into camp, so if the vibes aren’t positive in late July and August, we’ll probably be at or slightly below his ADP. If I do take Barkley, I’ll make it a point to get his handcuff Eric Gray, who is just a rookie, but is talented enough to produce if pressed into the starting job.

Unlike last year, the Giants actually have a solid backup to Saquon, and that’s Eric Gray. I may be expecting a little too much from the rookie, but he was a senior bowl guy, so he played a lot in college, and I like his 3-down skillset. He could have some issues running through contact in the NFL, but he does have some make-you-miss ability and upside in the passing game. Unless he flops in camp, I’d guess he can produce RB2 numbers if he’s forced into the starting lineup for 2-4 weeks. The best thing about Gray is that you can hold off until your last skill player selection, since his ADP is 215. We’re over the markets at RB68, but that’s assuming he locks up the #2 job this summer.

Most believed Matt Breida was the best handcuff option for Saquon last year, and that was basically right. But he never had to carry the load, so his role was minimal and his value nil. This year, it’s safe to place rookie Eric Gray above him on the depth chart, but Gray still has to prove himself in camp. Of course, even if Gray has a rough summer, Breida’s still not going to be a savvy pick.

I’ve been thinking about Parris Campbell as the best WR pick on the Giants for a couple of months, and a recent conversation on the subject with ESPN’s Jordan Raanan clinched it for me because Jordan agrees with my assessment that Campbell could be the guy to get. Wan’Dale Robinson is coming off that serious knee injury, and the early reports on rookie Jalin Hyatt are that he won’t be ready to challenge for a role for a while. We have Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton only slightly below their ADPs, but Campbell looks like the best bet for consistent volume, mostly in the slot. If his injury woes are truly behind him, he should go down as a great value pick for cheap catches around 175 overall, with some upside. Yes, it looks like a WRBC, but it’s a weaker overall group, and Campbell has the most talent and versatility. We have him at WR71 (ADP: WR77), and I think he could slip into the top-50 in production if things fall right.

There’s no doubt he was rock-solid last year, but that was when the Giants really needed Isaiah Hodgins to step up, so his 78% snap share may be tough to match. He does have the advantage of being a sizable outside guy, and we do have him as their second-best fantasy option with 48/515/3, and just slightly below the markets at WR78. But unless he is tearing it up this summer and appears to be ascending still, he’s a boring pick with limited upside.

It was a surprise to see the Giants re-sign Darius Slayton, since it sure looked like they didn’t want to play him last year unless they absolutely had to, which they did. He’s an outside guy only here, which should help his chances of seeing the field, and he definitely clicks with Daniel Jones. Slayton is talented enough to go off here and there, but his track record is mostly mediocre showings, along with that occasional spike week. Like most of their WRs, they need 1-2 other WRs to miss time to have a chance to merit starter consideration.

If the Giants went overboard drafting Wan’Dale Robinson last year, then I definitely went overboard ranking him for fantasy. Then again, it’s hard to say I screwed up royally by backing a guy with a 100+ ADP who put up 9/100 in his final game of the season. The word heading into training camp was that Wan'Dale would not be returning to practice in a normal capacity in the near future, so he’s tough to back even at his 200 ADP. We’re actually projecting an optimistic 48/455/3, which puts us right at his WR84 ADP. Ideally, he’s a waiver wire pickup during the season.

He’s a polarizing prospect, and for what it’s worth, I’ve been a Jalin Hyatt hater. The early word from the OTAs is that Hyatt has a ways to go, which makes sense, given the gimmicky nature of his college offense. Hyatt has a lot of juice to work with, and it’s entirely possible that he ends up being a baller down the road. Pending his showing in training camp, I think our 32/535/3 projection is very generous, yet we’re still behind his ADP of WR82 as our WR92. There is some upside to be had over the course of a full season, especially given the injury track records of several of their receivers. But he will probably hold very little value in the first half of the season, so he should be a possible WW guy only for most.

The Giants are preparing for life with Darren Waller as their top receiver, so his potential is obvious. His downside is also obvious, since we all remember the last two years. Like Saquon Barkley, it’s simply a question of health and availability. If things click quickly, Daniel Jones should have few problems getting the ball to Waller down the field, and Jones usually clicks very well with his slot, which is where Waller will often line up. We are at TE8 with Waller, which is one TE spot lower than his ADP, but we do have him at the TE7 in PPG with 58/725/4 in 14 games, and we’re at his overall ADP of around 85. He’s a fairly aggressive pick given his downside, but given his price tag, I’d say he has a slightly better chance of going down as a great value than a bust, making him a viable pick for those willing to take on some risk.

He’s a prototypical and very good TE2 for an NFL team, so Daniel Bellinger was a little miscast last year as the starter for the Giants. He’s a good blocker, and he held his own in the passing game, but unless Darren Waller is out, he’s just a guy who will annoy fantasy managers when he scores.