Should We Be Rostering Rueben Randle in Fantasy Football?
The New York Giants struggled mightily in 2013, losing their first six games on the way to a 7-9 record. Eli Manning threw for an NFL leading and career worst 27 interceptions, and the Giants made a full-scale change in offensive philosophy, bringing in Green Bay Packers’ quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo to fix the struggling offense, which finished 30th in red zone scoring percentage.
McAdoo’s offensive game plan is the first new scheme Manning is learning in his career, having spent his first 10 seasons in the same offensive program. The scheme is a West Coast style offense designed to get skill position players the ball in space so that they can make plays after the catch. The tempo is supposed to be a fast-paced, no-huddle approach to attack defenses.
Based on the first two games of the 2014 season, the scheme has not yet clicked. Victor Cruz has only managed to secure seven of 16 targets for 84 yards and no touchdowns. While Cruz is the type of player an offense like this is designed to benefit, the team's number-two receiver, Rueben Randle, is supposed to be the “Jordy Nelson” in this offense.
As the Giants “X” receiver, Randle, measuring out at 6’2”, 208 pounds, is supposed to be getting high percentage red zone looks as a smooth route runner who can win vertically and use his size in the middle of the field. He's the player scouts and fantasy pundits were looking towards to make a big jump and even lead the Giants in touchdowns.
Randle’s hype goes back to the preseason when he was deemed the value pick in the Giants’ receiving group, as Cruz was coming off the board in the early parts of Round 4 in fantasy drafts. Randle was the 39th receiver selected in drafts, and the scheme change in New York had owners salivating at that price tag. The comparison to Nelson's role with the Packers had fantasy owners dreaming of targets, big plays, and red zone touchdowns.
The Advanced Metrics
Through two games, Randle has six catches on 10 targets for 40 yards and one touchdown – not exactly the return fantasy owners were hoping for. Randle’s Reception and Total Net Expected Points scores made a respectable leap from the conclusion of Week 1 to Week 2:
|Week||Rec||Rec NEP||Targets||Target NEP||Rec NEP/Target||Catch Rate||Success Rate||Total NEP|
His disastrous two-catch, one-yard performance against Detroit landed him 119th overall in Total NEP among wide receivers in Week 1 - dead last. His four catches for 39 yards and a score in Week 2 brought his season Total NEP into the positive, landing him at 83rd overall among wide receivers. Considering Randle finished 2013 as the 50th-best wide receiver in Total NEP, it's a positive sign to see Randle rebound from an absolutely brutal Week 1 showing, and he now lands squarely back on the radar of fantasy owners.
What's Next for Randle?
Owners who jumped ship early on their late-round wide receiver are likely scrambling back to the wire hoping to find Randle available. Week to week waiver wire moves are often in pursuit of points scored the previous week, and Randle’s performance against Arizona was good enough to grab the attention of savvy owners. But due to Randle not surpassing 10 standard fantasy points, he will still likely rest just outside general attention. Randle has been targeted 10 times this season, and while that's 58th among wideouts, it's still not bad in a growing offense.
To those still holding Randle, the numbers say you should continue to do so. With heavy bye weeks approaching in Weeks 4, 9 and 10, Randle will see starting opportunities on your fantasy roster. The Giants offense can’t get much worse than it has been through two contests, and if Randle is available on your waiver wire, he makes for a solid-enough stash.