Fantasy Football: Evan Engram Is Capitalizing on His Increased Volume
As the New York Giants head into their bye week with a 1-6 record, it is fair to say that this season has been quite a disappointment.
Not only did the offense lose all-world wide receiver Odell Beckham and free-agent acquisition Brandon Marshall to injury in the same game, but the defense, a unit of considerable strength last season, has also regressed. It seems like the only good thing that can happen to the Giants this season is for it to finish.
But wait -- there is one shining beacon in this otherwise dire campaign, and that's rookie tight end Evan Engram.
There Is Hope
On a team in great need of a playmaker because of all the injuries they've endured, New York's first-round draft pick from last spring has stepped up to the task. The below table shows how his receiving numbers compare among other NFL tight ends through Week 7.
These figures are nothing to turn your nose up at under normal circumstances, but let's not forget that Engram is a rookie -- first-year players at this position normally offer little in terms of fantasy appeal. How does his performance thus far in 2017 compare to other rookie tight ends?
The below table stacks Engram's first seven games in the NFL against all first-year tight end performances since 1999.
A good season suddenly begins to take on the hallmarks of a truly remarkable one.
Through seven weeks, Engram finds himself as the TE5 in both standard and PPR scoring formats in fantasy football. But do these numbers tell the whole story?
Taking a Deeper Look
Using our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, we can look at Engram's performance on a per-play basis. The ranks and averages below are taken from the 18 tight ends who have seen at least 30 targets this season. Reception Success Rate refers to the percentage of plays that result in a positive NEP.
|Reception NEP Per Target||Rank||Avg||Reception Success Rate||Rank||Avg|
As you can see, Engram is actually quite average in both key areas at the position. So how has he been so successful this year?
In the two games he's played since Beckham's injury, Engram has seen 33% of the total team targets. He has seen at least 15% of the total targets in five of his last six games. According to AirYards.com, Engram has accounted for a 23% share of the Giants' air yards, but this number is up at 42% over the past two games.
Despite his average production on a per-play basis, he is seeing enough volume to be a key contributor.
Our rest-of-season projections at numberFire see Engram as the TE6 despite an upcoming schedule that includes some matchups that haven't been especially friendly towards tight ends in fantasy football this year.
|Opponents||Fantasy Points to TE Rank||Defensive NEP Per Play Rank||Defensive Passing NEP Per Play|
The last cupcake game of his season, against the Washington Redskins, will also come as little help to fantasy owners since it's in Week 17.
This doesn't look great, but if we factor in Defensive Passing NEP per play, we see that five of Engram's last eight opponents are currently in the bottom half of the league. So, they can be beaten through the air.
The Oakland Raiders are a good example. They are just about average in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but on a per-play basis, their overall pass defense ranks second-worst. Given the Giants' lack of options in the passing game and their struggles with regard to running the ball (their 583 team rushing yards are "good" for 26th in the league) it is fair to assume that they will put an awful lot of balls into the air.
Engram's numbers don't jump off the page with regard to per-play measures, but he's at least made an impact because of the volume he's receiving. If that continues in the second half, his cumulative 2017 numbers could be awfully impressive for a rookie tight end, especially from a fantasy perspective.
For a team that's been dealing with plenty of disappointments recently, that would be welcomed with open arms.