Fantasy Sleepers

Rueben Randle Gets Praise from Manning, But Should We Care?

Rueben Randle Fantasy Value 2015

The Giants QB thinks his 4th year wideout team mate Rueben Randle is in a for a “big year” in 2015, adding that he’s “been impressed with his commitment”. One can only imagine what “Impressed Eli” looks like, but I’m guessing it has a fairly similar facial expression to “Ecstatic Eli” and of course “Dang, I just threw another pick Eli”.

Rueben Randle Fantasy

Rueben Randle Fantasy Breakdown 2015

With many experts already set to anoint Joseph Randle as the second coming of Emmitt Smith, Eli Manning is convinced that all eyes should be on a totally different Randle within the same division.

The Giants QB thinks his 4th year wideout team mate Rueben Randle is in a for a “big year” in 2015, adding that he’s “been impressed with his commitment”. One can only imagine what “Impressed Eli” looks like, but I’m guessing it has a fairly similar facial expression to “Ecstatic Eli” and of course “Dang, I just threw another pick Eli”.

While some stars have a less than stellar success rate when it comes to predicting greatness for their teammates (see Brandon Marshall’s annual hymn to another Chicago wideout), the numbers at least do suggest that Randle has enjoyed steady progress in each of his three previous NFL seasons.

Rueben Randle Career Stats
YearTeamGRecYds100+TD
2012
161929803
2013
164161116
2014
167193833

In 2014, his and the Giants first season in Ben McAdoo’s offense, Randle saw career highs in targets (122), catches (71) and yard (938). But these numbers look less than impressive when you factor in that 12 of those catches (17%) and 290 of the yards (31%) came in weeks 15 and 17…and six of them were against a laughably bad Eagles secondary. The great Ray Summerlin recently wrote that touchdowns are the Holy Grail for fantasy owners, and Randle was about as much use in this regard as the men who did not know that the penitent man is humble and kneels before God. He found the Endzone just three times last year. He was next to useless as field stretcher too, catching less than 25% of the deep shots sent his way (according to Pro Football Focus).

If we remain focused on the numbers, there is enough evidence to suggest that Eli is not too far from the mark in his hopes for greatness for Randle. If we take last season as evidence, the volume is certainly there for an adequate receiver not called Odell Beckham to contribute, if not outright shine. Only five QBs threw more passes than the 601 Eli attempted last year, and if he can maintain or even improve on his 63% completion rate, then any and all pass catchers in this unit could eat. Between Weeks 12-16 last season (Fantasy Playoff time) Eli was the best fantasy QB. But it should be noted that this success was based mainly on the back of Beckham, not Randle. Assisting in the pass heavy approach last year was a porous Giants defense. Big Blue allowed the 29th most yards in the NFL, ensuring that Eli and his men were always in a game, and thus forced (or happy to) continue airing the ball out. The Giants finished with the 7th most passing yards last year, which isn’t too shabby for a QB in his first year in a new scheme totally different to anything he knew before. A second offseason fine tuning can only help.

Fantasy ADP

ADP Breakdown: Veteran WR Breakdown

There is also the big question of personnel in the Giants offense. Victor Cruz, assuming of course that he returns and is anything like the player he was before his torn patellar (a huge IF), will eat into Randle’s targets, though with McAdoo favoring three receivers all three should see plenty of snaps. The acquisition of Shane Vereen, and a fully fit (if such a thing exists) Rashad Jennings would indicate that the team would like to be more balanced on offense, but in 2014 only 9 teams ran the ball more than the Giants. They just didn’t run it all that well, finishing 23rd in rushing yards and producing team rushing totals of less than 100 yards in three of their last nine games. An improvement in this area would certainly affect Randle more than Cruz or Beckham, and the arrival of a skilled pass catching back in Vereen is likely to further increase the likelihood of targets that people hope will be Randle’s heading elsewhere in 2015.

Taking numbers out of the equation, despite Eli’s pride in the work rate of Randle, he does have a history of trying the patience of not only fantasy owners who continue to cling to his cleats, but also his head coach, especially given his annoying tendency towards missing meetings in 2014. This lax approach to preparation led to his benching more than once. It may have been slightly tolerated more last year, given the absence of Cruz and a ground game that couldn’t run a bath, but if there are any repeats this season I cannot imagine Randle coming close to appearing in 85% of the Giants snaps. They just don’t NEED to play him, given the other options McAdoo has at his disposal this year.

In My Opinion

Despite Eli’s hopes, I find it hard to believe that Randle will “break out” in 2015. Of course, in the last year of his contract, he will of course be keen to show that he can be a productive member of the offense, and the thought of earning more than the $813,899 he will pocket this season could spur him on to great deeds. But the numbers, of which I firmly believe in, would tend to indicate that he will continue to be “just a guy” in New York. Speaking of contracts, it is of course in Eli’s best interest to have as many of his weapons fully fit and firing as possible, as he looks to justify a huge new deal himself. But given the troubles Randle has finding the Endzone, the likelihood that he’ll miss a meeting here and there, the favored status of Beckham and Cruz in the passing attack, and a ground game that just can’t be as bad as it was last year, I find it hard to believe that the encouraging words of a quarterback earning $17m this season will be enough to take to greatness a receiver who, it must be noted, only really shone in week 17 last year…and even then, only against Cary Williams.

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