Brandon Marshall will be a fantasy help with the Giants
The 2017 NFL free agency period got off to an interesting start on Wednesday with the Giants striking a two-year, $12 million deal with wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The veteran receiver requested his release from the Jets last week and therefore can be signed before the free agency period officially begins at 4 p.m. ET Thursday.
Marshall will turn 33 later this month and is coming off an up-and-down tenure with the Jets. In 2015, he was one of the league’s most productive receivers, topping 1,500 yards and scoring 14 times on 109 catches. His numbers crashed back to earth last season when he caught a lowly 48.8 percent of his targets and found the end zone just three times.
While Marshall graded out as a mid-pack receiver – he finished 67th out of 115 qualifiers at the position – his dip in production isn’t solely his fault. The Jets’ pathetic carousel of quarterbacks almost certainly impacted his output. Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled mightily, completing just 56.6 percent of his throws, and Bryce Petty looked woefully overmatched in his 245 snaps last season.
With the Giants, Marshall gets an upgrade at quarterback despite Eli Manning’s lackluster 2016 campaign. He’ll also have the benefit of playing opposite standout Odell Beckham Jr. Likewise, this move should actually help Beckham, as Marshall is a solid upgrade over Victor Cruz. Beckham remains an elite-level fantasy option, with Marshall slotting in as a WR2.
Of course, there is also bad news for the Sterling Shepard truthers. Marshall’s signing essentially grinds to a halt the Shepard 2017 breakout narrative. Shepard projects as the slot option in three-wide sets, which is essentially the Giants’ base offense. But that’s not to say that Beckham and Marshall won’t be in the slot. All three will see time in the slot, though Shepard will be the primary slot receiver. In that role and with Marshall and Beckham on the field, it’s going to be very difficult for Shepard to see enough volume to have a breakout fantasy year.
The Jets are now left with a bare-bones depth chart that features three second-year receivers in Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall, along with injured veteran Eric Decker and quasi-tight end Quincy Enunwa. Decker’s future with the team remains in limbo, and he could also end up being cut. Expect the Jets to address receiver in free agency and the draft.