Since being drafted by the Giants in the first round of the 2017 draft, former Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram has only played in 34 of a potential 48 games. He’s had a long history of injury issues in the NFL with MCL issues in his right leg, a chest bruise, a foot sprain, and a couple of concussions. However, he has flashed elite potential in New York with a career 1,766 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Is this the season he finally puts it all together and finishes as a top-5 tight end for fantasy?
Evan Engram remains underrated. I will never quit him pic.twitter.com/j3OfvVqTby
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) May 3, 2020
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Engram finished as the TE17 last season in PPR leagues despite only playing in 8 games – he was the TE7 in per-game scoring average. With rookie quarterback Daniel Jones under center, Engram posted career-highs in receptions per game (5.5) and yards per game (58.4). His 16-game pace was 88 receptions for 934 yards and six touchdowns. The Giants suffered many injuries to pass-catchers last season, but Engram led the team in targets per game (8.5), and in games where he was fully healthy, he never played on fewer than 70% of the team’s snaps – he has a safe role in the offense.
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I have Engram slated for a full 16-game slate, which would be the first of his 3-year career, but his per-game statistics should be impressive even if he misses a few games again. I have Engram down for just over 21% of the team’s total passing targets as I see him as the best pass-catcher on the roster. These statistics make Engram my 4th-ranked tight end this year, and while I don’t see him entirely in the tier of Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle, the Giants’ tight end might be the best of the rest.
ADP: 62, TE5
Auction Value: $10
Engram’s ADP is right where it should be, in my opinion, and if I miss out on one of the top three tight ends, I’ll be tempted to grab the former Ole Miss TE in the middle of my drafts. My only hesitation is the fact that he hasn’t played a 16-game slate once in his career – it might be better to grab a high-upside guy like Tyler Higbee or Jonnu Smith later on for this reason. Engram’s ADP isn’t prohibitively expensive due to his talent and role in the offense.
Engram’s 16-game pace throughout his career would put him at about 72 catches for 830 yards and 5.5 touchdowns. Those numbers would have made Engram the TE9 in PPR scoring formats last year, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he doesn’t rank inside the top-ten tight ends this season, at least in per-game scoring. Fantasy football owners are likely getting tired of predicting Engram to stay healthy after the way the past few years have gone. Still, he displayed great chemistry with Daniel Jones last year and should be able to produce remarkable numbers as long as he’s on the field.
If you took the stats from the top targeted tight end from the Giants every week in 2019, the yearly stats would be:
197.3 fantasy points
TE6 in 2019
All Evan Engram has to do is stay healthy. My most owned TE in bestballs this year
— Addison Hayes (@amazehayes_) May 21, 2020
Jason Garrett wore out his welcome in Dallas after a few underwhelming seasons despite some elite roster talent. However, it’s important to remember that he can still be a very high-level offensive coordinator. Garrett’s offensive system emphasizes vertical passing routes, which made Jason Witten a great fantasy tight end for many years. While the veteran tight end is certainly a high-level player, he never possessed the athletic upside Engram does. The former Ole Miss TE ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and had a 36-inch vertical jump at the combine after showcasing his athleticism in college on several long touchdown receptions. Engram should be able to reach a career-high in yards-per-reception in Garrett’s vertical system, and he could also breakthrough with a career-best touchdown total as clearly the team’s best red-zone target.
New York Giants’ Offense
As I mentioned before, Jason Garrett will likely emphasize more downfield passing concepts with the Giants than they utilized under Pat Shurmur. It is important to note, though, that Engram didn’t play a single game last season at the same time as the entire trio of Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Sterling Shepard. I’m not so concerned about the previous two guys – Tate is on the downward trajectory of his career at age 31, and Sterling Shepard could be one significant concussion away from being forced to retire. I am slightly worried about Slayton, as the now-sophomore receiver took advantage of Engram’s absence at the end of the season to break out. The Giants had the 8th-most passing attempts in football last season, so there should be plenty of targets to go around, especially after the team decided not to add another receiver in the draft or free agency. Of course, Saquon Barkley will be involved as a pass-catcher out of the backfield (I have him surpassing 100 targets), but Engram should be the offensive focal point in the passing game as long as he’s healthy. Daniel Jones’s continued improvement would only help support his statistical production.
Strength of Schedule
Tight end defense is pretty fluky year-to-year, as one excellent coverage linebacker or safety can completely transform a team’s ability to cover TEs. The Cardinals are a great example, as after being the worst team in fantasy points allowed to tight ends last year, they should be much better with Isaiah Simmons on the roster. It’s still worth noting that the Giants will play the four worst defenses in fantasy points allowed to tight ends from last season in the Cardinals (32nd), Seahawks (31st), Cowboys (30th) and Redskins (29th). The Giants also take on the AFC North this season, which is home to a handful of great tight end defenses in the Ravens (1st), Steelers (11th), Bengals (12th), and Browns (23rd). To wrap things up, the Giants will play the Eagles twice (5th in points allowed to tight ends), Bears (24th), and Buccaneers (26th). There should be plenty of opportunities for Engram to exploit this schedule to the tune of fantasy success.
While the Giants won’t be an outstanding football team in 2020, their offense should support plenty of fantasy production. Daniel Jones should improve in his sophomore season, and the addition of Jason Garrett as the new offensive coordinator will help improve the team’s efficiency. Evan Engram is the team’s most talented pass-catcher in my estimation, and this should be the season he finally puts it all together, as long as he can stay healthy. Fantasy owners may be tired of drafting an oft-injured player, but it’s a good time to buy low on his talent as he should be in for a breakout season.
Fantasy Spotlight: Can Evan Engram Ever Reach His Potential? https://t.co/0CdapytBWv
— Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo) May 27, 2020