The mid-day news on Saturday involving New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. left many fantasy football players scrambling. In what’s either the start of the fantasy playoffs for many or the final week to push into the postseason, the Giants have ruled Beckham out in Week 14.
As Matt Lombardo of NJ.com revealed, Beckham’s quad injury led to the team downgrading his status to out, and he didn’t travel to Washington.
This is brutal news from a fantasy perspective, considering Beckham is a clear-cut WR1 and was almost certainly a first-round pick in all leagues. Replacing your best receiver in a crucial late-season game is never fun, nor is it easy. In some spots, players will already have solid depth on their bench, and possibly even have another Giants wideout in Sterling Shepard.
If that is the case and Shepard is on your roster, or even if he’s on waivers, the third-year wideout makes for an interesting option. Let’s take a look at whether he’s a fantasy start or sit in Week 14 against the Washington Redskins.
Sterling Shepard’s Fantasy Matchup & Workload
Shepard is going to see as much work as he can handle as the Giants’ new starting wideout and faces a Redskins secondary who’s struggled mightily on the year. To this point in the season, they’ve allowed 165 receptions for 2,294 yards and 15 touchdowns, ranking them as the fifth-worst in fantasy points per game against wideouts, per ESPN.
The workload is obviously no concern, as Shepard played 79 percent of the offensive snaps for the Giants in Week 13, per Football Outsiders. That, of course, came with Beckham still in the lineup and should increase quite a bit on Sunday. Nothing from these numbers will scare fantasy players away from using Shepard, but the hit-or-miss play of quarterback Eli Manning is at least somewhat concerning.
Should You Start or Sit Sterling Shepard?
One key aspect of this decision has to do with Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. It seems Norman has not shadowed receivers as of late, with the exception being after Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper began his monster start on Thanksgiving. In turn, Shepard finds himself in a solid spot here.
Manning’s struggles on the year have been well-documented, but he’s targeted Shephard 12 times in the last two games. Although the 25-year-old managed just 65 yards total in that stretch, there’s an obvious reason to believe he could see 9-12 targets now. Beckham’s workload will be spread around somewhat, but Shepard is the biggest beneficiary.
Shepard makes sense in a variety of spots, and I think he can be considered as a starter in 12-team leagues or larger. If you desperately need a flex play in a 10-team league, he’s a fine option to consider there as well.