If Sunday’s beat down at the hands of their division rivals the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t tough enough to swallow, the New York Giants were hit with more bad news earlier this week. New York’s number one wideout Sterling Shepard was dealing with concussion symptoms.
The news of Shepard’s possible head injury was brought to light during a Monday conference call by Giants head coach Pat Shurmur.
When Shurmur was asked to clarify further on the Shepard news he responded that “He’s getting tested. He has to go through some of the testing. It appears he might be in protocol here. Each guy is different, as you know. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”
When Shepard’s test came back, he was quickly placed in concussion protocol.
Now, as we enter the weekend, the Giants have officially announced his availability for their week two matchup vs. Buffalo.
Losing their top wideout is crushing to an already depleted Giants offense.
A Major Blow to an Already Thin Receiving Corp
Sterling Shepard is a hell of a player, but in all honesty, is probably placed a notch higher in the Giants pecking order than he would be on most teams. However, with the offseason trade of Odell Beckham Jr. and the suspension of Golden Tate, Shepard serves as the de-facto option for the New York Giants offense.
Shepard was targeted seven times in the loss to Dallas on Sunday afternoon, bringing in six of those passes for a grand total of 42 yards receiving. Shepard was on the field for 68 of New York’s 69 offensive plays.
With Shepard ruled out for week two’s game, the Giants will have to rely on a plethora of unproven players at the NFL level.
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How Will the Giants Replace Shepard
The Giants may be without their number one target against a stingy Bills defense in week 2. How will they soften the blow?
First off, tight end Evan Engram is a TE1 lock, and Shepard’s availability doesn’t have much, if any impact on his ranking.
Engram was the biggest bright spot in New York’s dismal defeat at the hands of the Cowboys on Sunday.
Engram had 11 receptions for 116 yards vs. Dallas, both career highs, while reeling in the only Giants offensive touchdown of the day. Engram has now averaged six plus catches and 87.2 ypg over his last five games.
Engram is entrenched as the Giants’ number one target going forward. The tight end is the second-best fantasy option behind Saquon Barkley on the team, and maybe the only other viable starting option.
Cody Latimer is a former second-round pick of the Broncos whose career quickly fizzled out in Denver. Latimer has served as an above-average special teamer throughout his NFL tenure. However, since joining the New York Giants he has flashed as an outside receiver. Unfortunately for Latimer, availability is a major issue.
When Latimer is on the field he has continuously produced and seems to have a decent rapport with QB Eli Manning. Latimer, who served as the Giants WR2 in week one, brought in three receptions for 74 yards.
The wideout has averaged just slightly over three receptions per game when inserted into the Giants starting lineup. He is a deep threat, and one of the only ones that the Giants offense has at their disposal. Latimer has averaged an impressive 20 yards per reception in his three career starts for New York.
Latimer is once again on the Flex/WR3 radar, but facing off against a Bills team that held the Jets to just 175 yards passing will limit his upside.
Bennie Fowler & Company
Bennie Fowler is a deep sleeper at this point, and should only be used if in desperate need at the wide receiver position. Fowler has shown to have somewhat of a nose for the endzone with the Giants. The wideout scored two touchdowns in three preseason games this season. Still, only look at Fowler as a fantasy option in a multi-flex league.
Beyond Fowler there is not much to get excited about. New York did bring back preseason star TJ Jones, however, he will likely serve in a reserve role.