News & Analysis

Stewart joins Giants, but fantasy relevance not guaranteed

Dec 10, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) scores the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants tapped into the running back free agent market and signed veteran Jonathan Stewart, a move that reunites Stewart with his former offensive coordinator, Mike Shula. Stewart slots in as the lead back, though it certainly within the realm of possibility that the Giants select Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 pick in next month’s draft.

Once one of the league’s most dynamic and athletic running backs, Stewart is on the wrong side of 30 and coming off an uninspiring 2017 campaign where he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and ranked 46th out of 53 qualifiers in yards after contact per attempt (2.23). He finished the season as fantasy’s No. 32 running back.

While fantasy hype seemed to accompany Stewart for much of his career, he only managed one top-12 fantasy finish in standard scoring (2009) and never accomplished that feat in PPR. In fact, he only managed three RB2 seasons in PRR scoring (2009, 2011, 2015). To be fair, he split carries with DeAngelo Williams for much of the early part of his career. Still, Stewart never proved to be the elite fantasy option many had expected him to become.

Running back was largely a mess for the Giants from a fantasy standpoint this past season. Paul Perkins entered the year as the starter and garnered some attention in fantasy circles as a potential breakout candidate. Injuries and lackluster player led to just 123 snaps on the season for Perkins, though. Rookie Wayne Gallman showed some potential, but it was actually Orleans Darkwa who posted the best fantasy finish at 29th among running backs.

Stewart tentatively projects at the top of the depth chart, but he’s far from a lock to open the season as the starter. He also comes with major question marks from a productivity standpoint. His declining yards part carry and minimal role in the passing game bode poorly for fantasy purposes. While he certainly has a recognizable name, it isn’t advisable to put his sticker up on fantasy draft boards at the end of the summer, even if he ends up as the Week 1 starter.

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