Giant Confusion; The Numbers Don’t Add Up Without Eli

Recently, I’ve recognized a confusing trend. Fantasy analysts are overwhelmingly and appropriately giving love to Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley, and Evan Engram. Even though they are giving this love to the offensive players, they are still ranking Eli Manning as middling or failing. Even our own Top 2 consensus rankings have OBJ at WR2, Saquon at RB5, Engram at TE4, but Eli Manning is QB23. I conclude that the rankings of these players do not add up OR the fantasy community has the non-QB skilled positions ranked too high.

For a little background to how I came to that conclusion, let’s consider 2017 results.

RB WR TE QB
Hunt (RB4) Tyreek (WR9) Kelce (TE1) Smith (QB4)
Gordon (RB5) Allen (WR3) Henry/Gates (TE5) Rivers (QB8)

As you can see, players who are ranked high at their position equate positively for the QB. I can instantly hear your arguments against my, thus far, simplistic reasoning. Allow me to elaborate a bit.

Projecting Eli’s Floor

I’m not claiming that Eli will be the QB4 like Alex Smith in 2017. We are hard pressed to find a game-manager QB like Smith. He runs more than Eli and he is far more efficient in his interception rate (Last 5 years, Smith has a 1.4% to Eli’s 2.9%). To accomodate these differences, let’s take Alex Smith’s legs and efficiency last season and match them to Eli’s by adding 8 more interceptions while removing 330 yards rushing (subtract 49 points). Alex Smith is still the QB14. We can use this number to project a potential floor.

Projecting Eli’s Ceiling

I think the best argument for how Eli Manning should be ranked based on the projected stats of his receiving targets can be made by looking at Philip Rivers’ results in 2017. Their team makeup of 2017 is almost identical to the projections for the Giants in 2018. They had a clear #1 receiver in Keenan Allen just like the Giants have with Odell Beckham Jr., a clear bell-cow RB in Melvin Gordon (just like Saquon Barkley), and a solid TE combo in Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates who equaled the output of Evan Engram in 2017. Similar to Eli Manning, Rivers makes a lot of passing attempts and throws a lot of interceptions. Also like Eli, Philip Rivers simply does not run the ball.

Using these stats and projections, I believe the ceiling for Eli Manning is QB8 in 2018.

The Missing Game

In Week 13, the soon-to-be-ousted Ben McAdoo benched Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. The game was against a subpar Oakland Raiders defense. Granting Eli Manning a modest game of 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, he would have finished 2017 as the QB16. That’s right, with no running game, a bunch of injured receivers, and a rookie Tight End, Eli Manning would have finished the season 16th overall instead of 23rd.

Final Thoughts

If there are any naysayers or Giants haters who simply cannot project Eli better than a QB20, then those friendly analysts will need to drop their projections of OBJ, Barkley, or Engram. It is quite difficult to have a successful result at all 3 positions without having a successful QB. The addition of Saquon Barkley will take some of those 2017 pass attempts away, but it will also open the field for the receivers. I anticipate that this will improve Eli’s efficiency.

For the record, I have Eli at QB16. I have OBJ and Barkley right around their ADP according to Fantasy Football Calculator, but I have Engram much lower (TE9 as of today). With the addition of Barkley, the health of OBJ, and the skill of Sterling Shepherd, I don’t believe there are enough targets to make Engram as valuable as he was in 2017 when he was the only healthy target left on the team.

There is a potential 2018 where Eli Manning could finish the season as a top 10 QB in fantasy. If other analysts want to keep projecting OBJ, Barkley, and Engram at their current rankings, then they better take a long hard look at their QB rankings and adjust accordingly.

About Marc Szymanski

@FFA_Marc on Twitter Resident of southeast Michigan and the wonderful suburbs of Detroit. In real life, I am the Manager of Technology Operations for a software company. Graduated from Baker College with an MBA in Information Systems. Fan of the wonderful game called Fantasy Football. Fan of the Packers AND Lions. Thanks to Madden '94 for the Sega Genesis for causing an internal struggle twice a year.

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