Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Kadarius Toney joins a crowded Giants WR room

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Kadarius Toney (1) catches a touchdown pass against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Malachi Moore (13) during the first quarter in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants didn’t get a receiver at their original pick but came away with Florida WR Kadarius Toney at pick No. 20. It’s somewhat surprising to see Toney come off the board as the WR4, although his electric ability with the ball can’t be understated. The bigger issue is whether or not Toney will see immediate high-end target share with the likes of Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley also expected to be plenty involved.

View PFF's 2021 NFL Draft position rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | T | iOL | DI | EDGE | LB | CB | S

What follows is a breakdown on what made Toney a first-round prospect, whether or not he fits the mold of a great fantasy football WR, as well as what we should expect from him and this Giants offense in 2021.

Toney is a problem for defenses to deal with once he gets the ball in his hands

PFF stated the following about Toney in our 2021 NFL Draft Guide:

“It's players like Toney who make football the greatest game in the world. The way he stops and starts in the blink of an eye is truly amazing to watch. He has the kind of flexibility and explosiveness in his lower half that allows him to break tackles in ways I've truly never seen before. It's why he broke 32 tackles on only 80 catches the past two seasons. More of a gadget player early in his career, Toney finally looked like a true receiver in 2020. He's not a polished route-runner by any means, but he showed all the ability needed to separate consistently in the NFL.”

The main problem for Toney is whether or not his route-running is advanced enough at this stage to be more than a situational player. We've already mentioned the crowded nature of the Giants WR room; he'll have to pass proven talents at the position in order to earn more than a gadget role in Year 1.

This isn't to suggest Toney won't be plenty involved in the offense; we just can't really get behind anything resembling a part-time receiver in fantasy land. Credit to Toney for forcing the fifth-most broken tackles at the position in 2020, although I'm skeptical in believing he'll be able to take away Shepard's slot role in the immediate future.

Toney will make plays in 2021; he’s too talented not to.

Clearly Toney is a player capable of making good things happen in the right situation; offensive coordinator Jason Garrett might not be the man to make that a reality. There are a lot of mouths to feed in the league’s reigning 31st-ranked scoring offense; I won’t be chasing anyone involved in this offense (other than Saquon) at cost.

The good news for Toney: first-round receivers historically don’t spend much time on the bench.

Historically: the earlier WRs are drafted, the better in fantasy land

There have only been two rookie WRs drafted outside of the first three rounds who finished as a top-24 PPR performer since 2010: Mike Williams (the Tampa Bay one) and Tyreek Hill. The latter player undoubtedly would've been a Day 1 selection if it wasn't for off-the-field issues, while the former benefited from incumbent No. 1 WR Antonio Bryant’s retirement.

Keenan Allen is the only third-round WR to thrive as a rookie. The rest were top-two-round selections. The one thing the group (generally) has in common is the reality that each WR is extremely talented and went on to post multiple great seasons:

Teams don’t use first-round picks on players with the intention of sitting them on the bench, but it remains to be seen if Toney is an elite enough talent to break his way into this select group.

Toney isn’t someone you should actively pursue in fantasy

The case against Toney boils down to three main issues:

  1. Jason Garrett and Daniel Jones orchestrated an objectively awful offense in 2020
  2. There is copious target competition around the offense
  3. Toney’s route-running ability is in question

I’m fine betting on players that maybe I’m not particularly high on if there’s plenty of available opportunity; this simply isn’t the case.

Toney’s selection muddles things for Golladay, Shepard and Slayton alike. I’ll be bumping each down the fantasy ranks due to the uncertainty of the situation, although the potential for Jones to re-find some of his 2019 upside has certainly improved.

Much like in Miami: The assertion of a first-round WR is good for the development of the Giants’ young QB; it’s just annoying in fantasy land to have another mouth to worry about feeding. As much as this might sound like common sense: Don’t be afraid to fade crowded passing games is bad offenses.

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