Why Brandon Myers Will Be a Giant Monster in 2013
During his reign as Giants quarterback, Eli Manning has proven to have a thing or two in common with the fictional Dr. Frankenstein. Instead of creating misunderstood monsters, however, he's taking the cold, lifeless bodies of waiver wire tight ends and transforming them into viable fantasy options. Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, and Martellus Bennett have all been struck by Eli's lighting, and now it's Brandon Myers' turn to wear the bolts in his neck.
However, unlike his predecessors at tight end, Myers wasn't dug up at the proverbial graveyard. This guy has already proven he can play. Myers racked up 79 catches, 806 yards, and four touchdowns while playing with a shoulder sprain for the entire 2012 season. He also finished last season with .65 net expected points per target, a number that compares quite well with the .67 NEP of 2012 top tight end Jimmy Graham. Based on Yahoo! standard fantasy leagues, Myers was the 10th-best tight end in the NFL in 2012.
Eli Manning's Tight Ends
Now let's get back to Dr. FrankenManning and his impact on the tight end position to see what could be in store for Myers. Kevin Boss took over the Giants starting tight end spot in 2008, finishing with only 386 yards, but he did pull down six touchdowns. His numbers improved greatly with 567 and 531 yards in 2009 and 2010 respectively, finishing with six touchdowns in both seasons. Boss followed a big contract to Oakland and his numbers plummeted: only 368 yards and three scores sans Eli in 2011. He was waived by the Raiders soon after the season ended.
Meanwhile, in 2011, lumbering rookie tight end Jake Ballard became Eli's new creation. He preformed well beyond expectation, finishing the year with 38 catches 604 yards and four touchdowns. As Ballard exited to an injury and a tenuous position on New England's roster, Martellus Bennett became Eli's tight end in 2012. A disappointment in his four years in Dallas, Bennett's career high in yards for a season was 283. As a Giant, however, he went for 626 yards on 55 catches and reeled in five touchdowns.
If we're counting, and we are counting, those are three tight ends that have become viable options as Giants even though they've done nothing before and/or after they hooked up with Eli Manning. From pretty much out of nowhere, they had an impressive average NEP of .67 from 2010-2012, which coincides nicely to top fantasy tight end play.
What This Means for Myers in 2013
This leads us back to Brandon Myers. In Oakland's moribund offense last season, he was used often as a safety valve for quarterback Carson Palmer. Some argue that his catch numbers are inflated due to the obnoxious amount of garbage time Oakland fans were subjected to, and that might be true to an extent. The Giants offense, however, has proven to be far more dynamic than its counterpart in Oakland. With Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and an emerging Rueben Randle as threats in the passing game, there should be more room on the field for Myers to make plays and become a downfield threat. Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope is encouraged by the fact that Myers can stretch the field, and this could lead to more yardage per catch than Myers accrued in Oakland.
The other knock against Myers has been his inability to run block. He blames some of his blocking difficulties in 2012 on his sprained shoulder, which is now fully healed after rehab. I find it hard to imagine that Giants would go out and sign Myers if they didn't believe that he could be at least an adequate blocker in their schemes. Remember, Pope got Jeremy Shockey to block, which was probably far harder than getting Shockey to cut his hair. Myers has thus far seemed to buy into Pope's instruction, and he even told reporters last week that its his intention to be the Giants every-down tight end.
Brandon Myers is a fantasy starter in 2013. He's our 9th-ranked tight end, ahead of bigger names like Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, and Martellus Bennett (remember him?). Myers is the first Giants tight end since Shockey to have had great success in the NFL before being paired with Eli. I have no doubt that a shot of Eli-ctricity will propel him to a top-10 season as a tight end in 2013. Look out for a monster year from Myers.