OBJ to Cleveland: A New York State of Mind

Chris Smith and Sam Terry had the pleasure of combining on the topic of the fantasy fallout for the New York Giants once the Odell Beckham, Jr. trade went down. Here are their thoughts:

Chris: The Giants finally made a move in the Free Agency Frenzy this off-season. But they didn’t pick up a big free agent. No, some say they got rid of a big problem, while others think this “problem” is one of the best wide receivers in the game. Yes, Odell Beckham, Jr. has been traded and, oh boy, did they get something for him. A first and third-round pick in the 2019 draft and Jabrill Peppers, a cover safety and punt returner to replace Landon Collins. Here is my take on this: Steeler fans should be pissed because Antonio Brown has put up better numbers than Beckham, but they only got a 3rd and a 5th rounder for him. Blasphemy, I say, blasphemy. But I digress; this article is about the Giants, so let’s take a closer look at the fantasy implication of this trade on the team.

Sam: Well, the Odell Beckham, Jr. to Cleveland is about (checks fake watch) six minutes old, and everyone is, understandably, losing their minds for many reasons. In this article, we’re going to look at the impact on the pass catchers in New York. The Giants will most likely use one of their recently acquired draft picks to re-up a wide receiver, but let’s concentrate on the players who are there now.

Evan Engram

Chris: Evan Engram will have the biggest impact as a receiver in fantasy next year if he can stay healthy. In weeks 13 to 16, he had 24 receptions out of 31 targets, which is 77%. Let’s be honest, the tight end position was terrible last year. But a healthy Engram should make a run as the best tight end in the league in 2019. Draft him between the 6th and 8th rounds.

Sam: This is probably the first name that comes to mind on the Giants’ side. Engram’s amazing rookie season is the most notable since he spent the most time without Odell competing for targets. However, this year showed similar, if somewhat diminished numbers. Over the past two seasons, Engram has paced out (per rRotoviz) to have almost 350 more yards and two more touchdowns without OBJ. The more exciting statistic, though, is the additional 35 targets he would command.

If you dismiss the 2017 season where he missed 4 games, Beckham, Jr. has averaged 146 targets in 4 years. This includes last year and his first season where he only played 12 games. Engram’s mobility and versatility instantly make him one of the favorites to command a decent portion of those targets. With the above mentioned additional 35 targets, Engram would have a pace of 945 yards and 6 touchdowns. With 10 – 15 targets additionally, or fewer than one a game, he could easily be over 1,000 yards and push the coveted double-digit touchdown mark that vaults a tight end into the upper echelon.

Sterling Shepard

Chris: Sterling Shepard should see more target this season, but I fancy him a WR 3 or flex play, not a one or a two. His production last year, when Beckham was out (weeks 13 to 16), was not very good at all. He had 31 targets, but only managed to catch 14 passes in 4 games. That’s 45%, which is pretty bad. Hopefully, he can improve in the off-season; I see him as a late-round pick maybe in the 10th to the 13th round.  

Sam: Everyone with a piece of Shepard is probably trying to sell him right now for maximum value. Again, I doubt the Giants stay with the receiving stable they have, but for now, Shepard is a great sell high in my eyes. Please listen to the Dynasty Trades HQ podcast for a better analysis of the trade values for all these pieces and more.

When looking at the splits between Shepard and OBJ, something interesting jumped out. He paced for significantly more yards (770 with vs. 1085 without) and targets (101 to 137) which makes sense. What was odd was the touchdown splits. Sterling Shepard averages fewer touchdowns when playing WITHOUT Beckham, Jr. (6 with to 3 without). Looking at the yearly stats, the only season they played all 16 games together, 2016, Shepard found the end zone 8 times. The past two years combined, he’s only scored 6. He missed 5 games in 2017 and had some bumps and bruises along the way, but still, that really stuck out. 

If I use the same logic as I did for Engram and give Shepard additional targets, he will do quite well in the categories of yardage and receptions. However, the touchdowns may still be lacking. He could see an uptick, or they may go to Evan Engram, another wideout to be named later, or…

Saquon Barkley

Chris: This is Saquon Barkley’s team so expect him to take the target title from Beckham, Jr. Barkley will be the number one running back drafted this year in the majority of drafts, mainly because he will get over 100 targets as a receiver next year along with 250 touches as a running back. I know, it’s like a porterhouse steak ready to be eaten. I’ll take mines medium rare.

Sam: As if this guy needed anything to make look like the 1.01. Barkley already commanded 121 targets, turning them into 91 receptions for 721 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Without OBJ, I can imagine a scenario where Engram and Shepard push farther down the field to try and cover more ground. If that happens, Barkley will soak up all of the underneath targets. Moreover, he showed his ability to split out wide, so there’s a possibility he could be the one streaking downfield with a linebacker mismatch. If New York decides to roll with the current corps they have or add a mediocre piece, it’s also likely the Giants rely on the run even more to compensate. Any way you slice it, this move makes Saquon invaluable to this team.


Chris: We will have to wait for the draft to see what young talent they are going to add to this team. A rookie could shine next year for the Giants, so stay tuned for the draft and let’s see who that player will be.

Sam: All in all, this is positive for the current pass-catchers in New York. We will have to see what the Giants do in free agency and the draft, but the pieces they already have should get the first crack at the vacated targets. Will New York draft a wide receiver with a first round pick? Will they draft a quarterback and hope they can lean on Saquon to do 90% of the work? Will this move blow up in their faces? What will happen to OBJ and the Browns? We will just have to wait and find out.

Well, that last question can be answered here.


#DFS Specialist for @DFF_Dynasty & Writer for @DFF_ReDraft. You can find me on Twitter @Chrisheatcanes. #DFFArmy #FantasyFootball

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