Fantasy Reaction: Brandon Myers Signs With New York Giants
Tight end Brandon Myers will be switching coasts to help the New York Giants replace the quietly productive Martellus Bennett, who is a recent free agent defection to Chicago. Bennett was the 13th-highest scoring tight end in fantasy, and while Myers will likely be able to match his pass-catching production, his ability to block will cause many observers to question the signing.
2012 was Myers’ first year as a starter for the Oakland Raiders, and when the dust cleared it can be said that he took advantage of the opportunity. In his fourth professional season, the former Iowa Hawkeye proved to be a reliable short-to-intermediate range target for quarterback Carson Palmer, and his opportunistic fantasy owners were happy to benefit from this unexpected production.
Myers is a catch-first (and -second) tight end. His blocking leaves a lot to be desired, and the question is whether it will ultimately cost him playing time with the Giants if he cannot upgrade it to a passable level in head coach Tom Coughlin’s eyes. Last season he managed to stay on the field for 93.3 percent of all offensive snaps – something that may be tough to duplicate in 2013. He was the 53rd-ranked pass-blocking tight end in 2012. More importantly, since one would hope he would be running patterns on most pass plays, he graded out as the worst run-blocking tight end in football. His cumulative -20.4 grade was 3.3 worse than the 61st-ranked tight end and killed his overall 2012 grade (-15.8).
He was a volume fantasy producer last season, as evidenced by the 101 targets he saw, which were the fourth most at his position. His 10.2 yards per reception placed him 40th in the league, and he came in 43rd in yards after catch per reception with a sub-par 3.7. His production stemmed primarily from his 79 receptions (fourth in NFL) and impressive catch rate of 78.2 percent. The very definition of a reliable safety valve, he only muffed one out of his 36 targets between 10 and 19 yards, on his way to a strong drop rate of just 7.06 percent.
Bennett, on the other hand, came in as the 41st tight end with a 63 percent catch rate while playing in the Giants’ offense. However, he did offer New York more big-play ability. For his part, Myers was not targeted on a single pass of more than 20 yards downfield in the Oakland offense. Lagging behind others at his position by a good margin, he posted an average depth of target of just 7.2, which ranked 38th among tight ends. Bennett’s 10.6 aDOT mark was good for ninth at the position. It is relatively safe to say that whatever extra production Myers gains with his sure-handedness, he stands to lose if he does not stretch the field on more occasions.
Bringing Myers on board certainly does not help New York’s two intriguing fantasy running backs. Neither Andre Brown nor the much-hyped David Wilson will benefit from Myers’ poor run-blocking skills. Second tight end Bear Pascoe, who was only on the field for 25 percent of the Giants’ offensive snaps last year, has not graded well as a blocker either. Unless New York brings in another option, expect a noticeable drop-off from what Bennett provided.
If streaming middle-tier tight ends is your preference, Myers will be a usable asset. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has shown a willingness to attack defenses that are weak in this area. In Bennett’s five games against defenses that were in the bottom half of defending fantasy tight ends, he averaged 9.7 points. That was good for the second-highest point output at his position during those weeks. Against all other defenses his average fantasy points per game mark was 4.0, “good” for 25th. Gilbride has a reliable weapon at his disposal if he chooses to feature Myers when the matchup dictates.
When considering the fact that Myers was the ninth-highest scoring fantasy tight end in 2012, and actually was fifth best before sustaining a Week 13 shoulder injury, it is easy to see the upside he possesses for 2013. While he will not offer as many big plays as his predecessor, he will catch a higher percentage of targets. Myers will likely improve on his relatively meager total of four touchdowns, which will allow him to once again wind up on the fringes of the top 10 fantasy tight ends. As we touched on last week — with a current ADP of 23rd at his position, he should represent an opportunity to take advantage of an undervalued asset.
As for concerns that his turnstile-esque blocking skills will cost him playing time, rest assured that the Giants are not operating under the illusion that they just signed the second coming of iconic combination tight end Mark Bavaro. Brandon Myers is more than capable of filling one specific role — duplicating the pass-catching production of the self-styled Black Unicorn.