Hello fellow Razzballians. Now that the season has officially begun, it is time for a paradigm shift. That paradigm shift is hitting the switch from “preseason ranking” to “regular season reality”. As the season progresses, your preseason rankings (and ours!) will matter less and less. And if you will follow that logic one step further, then the round (or money spent, for you auctioneers out there) in which you drafted a particular player becomes less important. Or at least it should. Mentally and emotionally, it is very hard to bench, trade, or drop a first or second round player. However, once the season the starts, your success is based on trades, waiver wire moves, and having the guts to bench your second round player when it is necessary. Your success is not based on how well your team looked after the draft. More so, it is based on how well your team looks after Week 8, when injuries and bye weeks cripple teams. Now with that all being said, I want to look at the New York Football Giants for a little bit. And more specifically, Eli Manning and his long list of productive receivers. (While this may be a little lengthy, I promise I will tie it all back in at the end).

[graphiq id=”ii41GECU9ut” title=”Eli Manning Overview” width=”640″ height=”570″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/ii41GECU9ut” link=”http://football-players.pointafter.com/l/12988/Eli-Manning” link_text=”Eli Manning Overview | PointAfter”]

Eli Manning has been the starting quarterback for ten full seasons now. I don’t count his rookie year, since he only started seven games. So over that time, can anyone guess how many different receiverss have led the Giants in yards caught? Anyone? The correct answer is six. Six different receivers have led the Giants in those yards over the last 10 years. Let’s look at the top-3 WRs for each of those 10 seasons with their receptions, yards, and TD’s listed. And yes I know that there are TE’s and RB’s on this list. “WR” is easier to type than “wide receiver”.

Year Player R-Y-T Player R-Y-T Player R-Y-T
2005 Plaxico Burress 76-1214-7 Jeremy Shockey 65-891-7 Amani Toomer 60-684-7
2006 Plaxico Burress 63-988-10 Jeremy Shockey 66-623-7 Tiki Barber 58-465-0
2007 Plaxico Burress 70-1025-12 Amani Toomer 59-760-3 Jeremy Shockey 57-619-3
2008 Domenik Hixon 43-596-2 Amani Toomer 48-580-4 Steve Smith 57-574-1
2009 Steve Smith 107-1220-7 Mario Manningham 57-822-5 Hakeem Nicks 47-790-6
2010 Hakeem Nicks 79-1052-11 Mario Manningham 60-944-9 Steve Smith 48-529-3
2011 Victor Cruz 82-1536-9 Hakeem Nicks 76-1192-7 Jake Ballard 38-604-4
2012 Victor Cruz 86-1092-10 Hakeen Nicks 53-692-3 Martellus Bennett 55-626-5
2013 Victor Cruz 73-998-4 Rueben Randle 56-896-0 Rueben Randle 41-611-6
2014 Odell Beckham Jr. 91-1305-12 Rueben Randle 71-938-3 Larry Donnell 63-623-6

So what do we learn from this fun filled history lesson? Well, several things stand out to me here aside from the fact that there are a lot of names on this list.

First, the top WR each year seems to drop dramatically the next year. Plaxico Burress in 2007 was the lone exception to this rule. Burress increased his receptions, yards, and TDs compared to 2006. He also increased the amount of bullets in his leg at one point. While Hakeem Nicks had a comparable year in 2011, he lost four TDs while gaining 140 yards. Plus, Hicks was overshadowed by Victor Cruz, and was not the top WR. And though Victor Cruz was top dog for three years in a row, his yards decreased every year, with a big drop in TDs in 2013. While I am aware that he did not play all 16 games that year, a drop in production is a drop in production.

The second thing that stands out to me is that 12 TDs is the most any receiver has totaled in a single year with Eli under center. Plaxico achieved this feat in 2007 and then Beckham matched his total in 2014. Eli’s receivers have only hit double digit TD’s three other times: Plaxico in 2006(10), Nicks in 2010 (11), and Cruz in 2012 (10).

Third, I feel as though the data shows how easy it is for Eli to trust multiple receivers, and thus make them inconsistent for fantasy value. Eli will make someone have good/great numbers. But it is not always clear who it is each year.  Let’s look at his receivers from Sunday.  A quarterback cannot get more balanced than this…

Player Targets REC-YDS
Shane Vereen 5 4-46
Odell Beckham Jr 8 5-44
Daniel Fells 4 3-33
Preston Parker 6 2-26
Rueben Randle 5 3-23
Larry Donnell 4 3-21
Rashad Jennnings 1 0-0

So moving on to my main point of this segment, I do not think Odell Beckham will replicate his numbers from last year.  Now, don’t get me wrong. He was a monster last year, I understand that. I also think he will have a very good year despite his mediocre numbers on Sunday.  However, if Victor Cruz can get healthy, Eli will have another dependable WR to throw the ball to. That is a lot of target sharing.

And chew on this for a moment. Beckam ended last season tied for the highest TD total for any of Eli’s receivers. Will that happen again? He had the second highest yard total of any of Eli’s receivers. Will he exceed that? And he had the second highest number of receptions of Eli’s receivers. Will he break the century mark? Add it all up, and it was a career year for an Eli Manning wide receiver. When none of Eli’s other top WRs could improve from the previous year, are you confident that Beckham can buck the trend?

Now, can Odell meet and exceed last year’s numbers? Absolutely he can. Does history suggest that he will? No, it does not. Also, when and if Victor Cruz gets healthy, Eli will have a rock solid WR threesome of Beckham, Cruz, and Rueben Randle. Victor Cruz was Eli’s top target for three years straight. If Cruz is healthy, he will steal targets and eat into Beckham’s value, which is part of my concern.

Now, I am not telling you trade Odell Beckham Jr. today for pennies on the dollar. That would be foolhardy. However, with a first or second round pick, I like safety and assurance. Ranking him ahead of the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Megatron, Randall Cobb, A.J. Green, or Alshon Jeffrey seems risky to me. These guys have proven stats over at least two seasons. Beckham had 3/4 of a season.

However, if you average all out the numbers for Eli’s top WR each year (with the exception of 2008), you get a line of 81 receptions, 1158 yards, and 9 TD’s. Thomas, Cobb, Green, and Jeffrey have all exceeded those stats the last few years. And while Beckham also exceeded those stats last year, Eli was missing his top target from the previous three years in Mister Cruz.

At the end of the day, all of your top WR choices have high ceilings, so make the decision that you think is right. Just remember that having the highest floor is sometimes just as important as having the highest ceiling.

And finally, as we look at making that paradigm shift to “regular season reality”, keep this in mind. Do not go and trade Beckham after one poor start. But be aware of Cruz’s health reports. A huge game for Beckham in Week 2 with Cruz sidelined could make for a fantastic trade opportunity. His stock will be high and week 1 will be a “fluke”.  If your team gets hit with injuries and you need depth, trading Beckham before Cruz comes back may pay some high dividends if it makes sense for your team, while at the same time avoiding the decline that might be coming.



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  1. dom says:

    Drafted Vereen as an intriguing PPR rb, although I think he’s a risky start in a shallow 8 team league because he may not get enough targets to make up for the lack of rushing touches. Any idea of what to expect from him fantasy wise moving forward?

    • KVC

      KVC says:

      While I like Vereen as a PPR option, I agree he is a risky start with only 8 teams. What does the rest of your team look like?

      As for expectations, Vereen was the only RB that Eli sent a pass to on Sunday. The Giants signed him to a $12 million dollar deal, so I would anticipate that they plan to use him in the pass game quite a bit. However, you have to go back to 2010 when Ahmad Bradshaw caught 47 passes to find a NYG RB who made a strong impact in the passing game for a whole season.

      That being said, I think Vereen should get at least 50 receptions this year, but a low amount rushes. Might be a good flex play in a pinch, but in a 8 team league, you should have better options most weeks.

  2. Steve Stevenson says:

    So Mr. Van Cleef, would you recommend grabbing Cruz as he gets closer to returning? Top __ WR once he’s in the lineup?

    • KVC

      KVC says:

      @Steve Stevenson: Seeing as how Cruz isn’t even running yet, I would only grab him in deeper leagues if you can spare the spot on your bench.

      Since he is only 28 years old, he may return and have some playable games. Eli can support multiple WR’s, and Cruz was averaging 7.6 targets per game prior to getting hurt last year. In 2013 he averaged 8.8 targets per game. Eli clearly enjoys throwing him the ball. It’s just a matter of how much once he returns, with Odell in the mix.

  3. DominicanPower says:

    Ruben Randle is shot and was never good to begin with and Victor Cruz is still recovering from knee injury, so he’s not gonna be himself for at least a year. OBJ is going to be Eli’s target in spite of those two.

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