by Alex Kurpeski (@3COAK)
Darius Slayton entered his rookie season as a rather unheralded mid-round pick out of Auburn, where his final season was marred by the inconsistencies of the Tigers offense as a whole. Slayton’s upper percentile speed and athleticism combined with his 6’2 frame ultimately convinced the Giants to take a chance on him as a developmental receiver, although the young wideout managed to blow even the highest expectations out of the water during his first season with the team. Slayton’s rookie season breakout was largely due to the wave of injuries suffered by established playmakers Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepherd, with the four game suspension of prized offseason acquisition Golden Tate also exposing Slayton to some unexpected playing time.
The misfortunes of Slayton’s teammates may have been a blessing in disguise for New York, as the rookie developed tremendous chemistry with fellow draft classmate Daniel Jones. Slayton did not see the field until Week 3, the same week when Jones made his debut for the team. The former Auburn standout wasted little time in announcing his presence to the fantasy football world, catching 48 passes for 740 yards and 8 touchdowns, with his average of a touchdown per every 6 receptions leading all rookie receivers. Yet while the glass slipper fit Slayton’s foot perfectly in his first season, he’s due to turn into a pumpkin sooner rather than later (I hope these Cinderella references are hitting), as Engram, Tate, Shepherd, and Barkley should all see a larger cut of the pie this season.
Most 25+ yard TD receptions in 2019:
▫️ Kenny Golladay – 5
▫️ Mecole Hardman – 5
▫️ Darius Slayton – 5 pic.twitter.com/M6I3lUTdJ1
— PFF (@PFF) July 1, 2020
Slayton finished the season as the WR37 in PPR leagues, although it must be taken into account that 28.2% of his points came from touchdowns, a very unsticky statistic that doesn’t have much universal rollover. Between the injuries and suspensions to the rest of the Giants starting playmakers roughly 173 possible targets were opened up for Slayton, who only managed to catch 57% of the targets that trickled down to him. While I love Slayton’s talent and the fact that he has built up a trust with Jones, I simply cannot envision him replicating his numbers from last season.
Given the money that has been allocated to roster Tate and Shepherd, I would imagine that the Giants coaching staff would like to involve those two more this season. With new OC Jason Garrett taking over the play-calling duties,I fully expect the team to embrace a more run-heavy identity focused on Saquon Barkley, similarly to how the Cowboys offense featured studs like Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarco Murray. We’ve seen Garrett turn to two-TE sets quite often when gifted the luxury of multiple pass-catching threats at the position as well. With Engram, Kaden Smith, and Rhett Ellison on the roster it’s entirely possible that we see the same looks this season. If this is the case then Slayton’s 65.76% snap share from 2019 is bound to shrink tremendously.
Darius Slayton Projection
- 38 receptions (-10 from 2019)
- 66 targets (-18 from 2019)
- 600 receiving yards (-140 from 2019)
- 4 receiving TDs (-4 from 2019)
- 122 fantasy points ~WR54 (-17 spots from 2019)
If I had to choose one second-year wideout to disappoint this year, Slayton would be my number one choice by a wide margin.