Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard Fantasy Outlook Amid Eli Manning Struggles

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 07:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 33-31.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning continued to struggle under center in Thursday night's 34-13 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles. As a result, he's dragging down the respective fantasy football values of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.

Manning finished the game 24-of-43 for 281 yards and an interception. Beckham caught six passes on 10 targets for 44 yards, while Shepard had three receptions for 37 yards on seven targets.

Beckham is one of the NFL's most dynamic pass-catchers, yet it's impossible to ignore the impact Manning has had on his overall production. After Thursday night, the three-time Pro Bowl receiver is averaging a career-low 11.2 yards per reception and has just one touchdown catch. 

Manning has rarely consistently tested opposing secondaries deep downfield in his career, and he's even less likely to now. Rather than throwing the ball up and letting Beckham make a play, Manning is content to settle for shorter throws and checkdowns.

Fantasy owners shouldn't overreact and bench Beckham. Until things change, though, he might struggle to break into the WR1 category. If Beckham isn't making big plays, then his ceiling is lower. 

For the most part, the same holds true for Shepard.

After he had 731 receiving yards in 11 games last season, fantasy owners were likely counting on Shepard taking a step forward in 2018. That improvement isn't going to happen without changes in the Giants' offensive approach.

Beyond that, Saquon Barkley might be the bigger impediment to Shepard's fantasy potential than Manning. The rookie running back had nine receptions for 99 yards to lead the team, one week after an 81-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 33-31 defeat to the Carolina Panthers.

For fantasy owners with a plethora of good receiver options, benching Shepard would be prudent. In most cases, he's worth starting as a flex. But it's hard to see when he might deliver the kind of performance that could single-handedly swing a result in a given week.

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