Quarterback Eli Manning finished as the 10th-highest scoring quarterback in most Fantasy Football formats in 2015, but the 2016 season is going to look a little different.
Tom Coughlin is gone, Rueben Randle is gone, and Odell Beckham Jr. does not have a ton of help to draw defenders away from him.
Still, Manning finished with the most touchdown passes of his career last year, and he had six games with 300 or more passing yards. He’s only a ninth-round pick on Fantasy Football Calculator, which makes a lot of players wonder if he’s being undervalued.
Before we take a look at if you should draft Eli Manning in your 2016 Fantasy Football league, let’s review his 2015 performance.
2015 Fantasy Football Review: Eli Manning
As I mentioned, Manning had the most touchdown passes (35) of his career last year, the second-most passing yards, and the sixth-most completed passes among quarterbacks.
This also follows a steady improvement of Manning’s performance over the last four seasons, which is largely credited to new head coach and former offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
While he wasn’t always the most consistent quarterback to start each week, Peyton Manning’s brother did have three huge performances during the season that made him worth owning in a MFL10 format.
Week 5- 441 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
Week 8- 350 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Week 14- 337 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception
So while those performances may make Manning seem like a steal as a ninth-round pick, let’s take a look at who he has to throw the ball to in 2016 before making any decisions.
Eli Manning: 2016 Fantasy Football Weapons
Odell Beckham Jr.’s stats do all the talking, so there’s no need to review him as a weapon.
But what we do need to review is who the hell does Manning have to throw the ball to outside of OBJ…
As I mentioned earlier, Randle is gone and playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. While some felt he never lived up to his potential, Randle still hauled in a total of 1,735 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in the past two seasons.
Beckham Jr. can’t absorb all those extra yards and touchdowns, so someone has to step up.
One of those players could be rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard is a second-round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft who hauled in 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in his final season at the University of Oklahoma.
Eli Manning on rookie WR Sterling Shepard: 'He's caught everything.' #Giants
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) May 23, 2016
Although he is only 5-foot-10, Shepard is praised for being a well-rounded receiver. He was a top performer for bench reps and the vertical jump at the 2016 NFL Combine, and he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash.
Outside of Sterling, Dwayne Harris, Geremy Davis, and Myles White will all compete for more looks from Manning in 2016.
Manning will be grateful if Victor Cruz can make it back in the lineup, but Fantasy players should not get there hopes up. Cruz missed the entire 2015 season, and he will be a 30-year old receiver in November.
Shepard has much more upside at this point, and he’s not even being drafted on FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
At the tight end spot, Manning will have two big targets in Will Tye and Larry Donnell. While Donnell once seemed ready to emerge as a Fantasy star, injuries and poor blocking prevented him from taking a major step forward.
Tye hauled in 42 receptions last season for 464 receiving yards and three touchdowns, and the 24-year old tight end averaged 4.5 receptions per game from Weeks 10-17.
Although the backfield for the New York Giants was frustrating for Fantasy players, it’s a backfield that should benefit Manning in 2016. He has one of the best pass-catching backs in the league in Shane Vereen, and Rashad Jennings has proven himself as a capable pass-catching back when called upon.
Eli Manning 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
You’re obviously not drafting Manning to be your starting quarterback, but you could do worse with having him as your backup.
But for Manning to improve his production level in 2016 or stay at the same level, he’s going to need a player to step in for Randle. That either means Shepard has to step up, Tye or Donnell has to step up, or Cruz is able to play for most of the season.
All of the pressure can’t just be on OBJ.
Manning is capable of cracking the top 10 again in 2016, but I wouldn’t bet on him finishing as a top-five quarterback. For me, I would only want to own him in a MFL10 format and hope for some crazy game performances like in Week 8 last year.