In the fantasy community, there is one guy that we constantly overlook, discard or even ignore as we search for that next the big thing. This is someone who has been with their organisation for three years, and in all that time he has always just warmed the bench spots on fantasy rosters because he’s not classed as a “sexy pick”. However, not this year, this year is different. This year is his greatest chance. It’s the year he has the wide receiver one spot to claim as his own.
This year, is Sterling Shepard’s year!
Shepard, now 26 years old, was drafted out of Oklahoma with the 40th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. 2019 is the biggest chance to stake his claim as the Giants main wide receiver weapon. With Odell Beckham Jnr. departing for Cleveland, the Giants have a serious void that needs filling quickly. Shepard has made steady progress in his three years in New York. However, he has always been in OBJ’s shadow. Many were under the impression that the New York Giants had just packed it in and embraced their rebuild to the fullest. The Giants, of course, believe they are headed in a different direction. They believe they’re in line to compete without the likes of Beckham, safety Landon Collins, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and others.
Shepard was signed to a four-year extension following the trade of Beckham. He’s in line for a substantially increased offensive role even in the presence of veteran Golden Tate. I believe that will pave the way for a remarkably impressive season.
Now in the starring role, it is entirely possible to see Shepard reach the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career.
However, it’s those double-digit touchdowns that may keep him on the outside looking in.
The stats show that even while in the shadows, Shepard has had a steady three year progression. As such, the leap from WR2 to WR1 doesn’t seem too far fetched. Even with those stats, Shepard is considered by many as a replacement level player. These stats give me real belief that Shepard can progress and become a vital player in Shermur’s west coast offense. They like to get the ball out of the quarterbacks hands as quickly as possible, and gain as many yards as they can with each play.
Shepard will now have the chance to spend more time moving freely all over the formation.
Being the most talented wide receiver on the roster, Shepard will have the opportunity to grow and develop an understanding and relationship with young franchise quarterback Daniel Jones. The rookie out of Duke has looked really impressive this pre season. I believe at some point within this season he might take the starting job from Manning.
Shepard has the ability to play slot. With his raw athletic ability, he’s more then capable of playing just as effective outside the hash marks. With defensive backs not being allowed to get as physical with wide receivers after 5 yards, Shepard will thrive. Creating separation is the name of the game in today’s NFL.
Comparisons of players like Brown, Hilton – shifty as they are fast have been drawn. It’s now down to Shepard to fulfil that potential that he once showed during his time with the Sooners.
Having not missed any training camp this off season, even after picking up a thumb injury, Shepard still took the opportunity to improve. He refined his one handed catching skills and route running, amongst other things, while training in a none contact yellow jersey. This indicates to me that the Giants wanted him to get as much practice under his belt as possible for the up coming season with the strong potential of him being their main wide out threat. With all the injuries and suspensions that the Giants currently have, Shepard becomes one of two really interesting targets for me on the team. Yet he still flies under the radar of most people. Shepard’s current ADP is WR45. Outrageous for a team’s wide receiver one!
Shepard is my underrated break out player of the season.
You will be able to land yourself a wide receiver one for the price of a receiver two or three. Many of you will have completed your drafts already. However, you shouldn’t have much trouble trading for him and prying him away from his current owner. I can’t see you having to trade much above a 2020 third or a 2020 4th plus player. He has the potential, especially this year, to be a huge coup for a small fee in relation to a wider receiver one.
This guest piece was written by Justin Brandrick. You can find his take on another wide receiver, Andy Isabella, right here.
Feature Image Credit: USA TODAY