Darren Waller Traded
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that the New York Giants have acquired tight end Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Raiders will have the 100th overall choice in the 2023 NFL Draft. They can save $11.4 million in salary cap space by trading Waller now, and he’ll be worth only $660,000 in dead money.
Darren Waller was only able to play in 20 games over the last two seasons due to injuries. Only recently, in the middle of the 2022 season, he missed eight consecutive weeks due to a hamstring injury. While huge upside, the GMEN are taking a huge chance with this transaction.
Waller caught 197 catches for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2020 and 2019.
Assuming he can avoid another injury, the 30-year-old provides a huge boost to a passing game that needed help last season.
For someone who was once an excellent performer, a third-round draft choice may be a steal. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the Green Bay Packers were willing to deal a second-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders in order to acquire Waller before the 2022 trade deadline.
Last week, Daniel Jones signed a 4 year, $160M contract with the Giants, including a $36M signing bonus. The deal includes $92M guaranteed. This financial commitment had to come with an effort to get Jones additional weapons this year, it only makes sense as the owner and GM want to see their money go to good use. The Giants are +4500 to win the Super Bowl. With the addition of Darren Waller and possibly a good draft class, these odds could increase, so you might want to jump at the chance.
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Darren Waller fits in almost perfectly with how Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka have structured the Giants’ passing game. Kafka, who worked with Travis Kelce in Kansas City, and Daboll, who turned Day 3 draught selection Dawson Knox into a weapon, should have no issue setting up favorable one-on-one matchups for Waller.
Daboll was also the Patriots’ tight end coach from 2013 to 2016, during which time he helped get the most out of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.
A large number of open receiver spots exist in the Giants’ offense. Isaiah Hodgins, one of their top wideouts, has been re-signed, but Richie James and Darius Slayton, two of their other top wideouts, are still unsigned. Being the primary receiver and the main focus of the Giants’ red zone pass game, Waller has a chance to see double-digit target volume. This change increases his potential for touches and touchdowns. Waller is on the wrong side of his 30s, so injuries are always a concern, but this upside is enough to vault him back into the top five at the tight end position, which is otherwise bare. In fact, he has enough potential to be considered the TE2 behind only Kelce.
As for Jones, he is now firmly in the conversation for the final starting quarterback position. Over the course of the final month and a half of the 2022 campaign, Jones and the Giants’ offense shifted to a shotgun-heavy, pass-first formation. This seems reasonable, considering that both Daboll and Kafka are from families with a history of obtaining several passes. If that trend continues, Jones’s rushing floor (over 700 rushing yards and seven rushing Touchdowns in 2022) and improved throwing prognosis would vault him into the QB1 conversation.
As a result of Waller joining the Giants, Heath Cummings is less enthusiastic about his Fantasy value. After the deal, Heath dropped him to No. 9 among all TEs in his rankings. Nonetheless, after the trade, Heath promoted Jones to the QB13 position, which is barely outside the QB1 range.
- In 2019 and 2020, Waller was among the top three fantasy tight ends, however, injuries limited his participation in both 2021 and 2022.
- Once the new coaching staff became used to their offensive system, the Raiders started removing him from the lineup. By early 2022, his playing time had dropped below that of the vast majority of his 2021 appearances.
- Despite fewer routes and fewer targets, Waller remained a top-seven fantasy tight end in 2021, but he dropped to 12th in 2022.
- Waller will have the opportunity to play the bulk of the Giants’ snaps. In four games last year, Bellinger participated in more than 94% of the offensive snaps for the New York Jets.
- Waller has not lost his status as one of the NFL’s best tight ends. Last year, he had a 74.5 grade as a receiver, placing him 11th best among tight ends.
- The Giants’ offense didn’t target the tight end position often last season, but that’s usually a reflection of the player’s skill level more than the scheme.
- Before the year 2022, Daniel Jones will have thrown to a wide variety of tight ends. In 2020 and ’21, Engram saw the eighth-most targets of any tight end.
- If he can avoid injury, Waller’s skill set and receiving opportunities put him in a position to be a top-10 tight end. In a scenario where the Giants’ offense keeps getting better, Waller may end up in the top five.
James is a diehard fantasy football fan who has been playing for over 20 years. He doesn’t have a favorite team, mainly from moving around a lot when he was a kid. This has to lead to many fantasy championships as James drafts with his head, not with his heart. James also plays heavily in Dynasty Football and loves DFS and Picking games. He’s excited to see where he can go writing for Gridiron Experts