Fantasy Football Impact of Odell Beckham’s Injury: Sterling Shepard Set up for Success

Fantasy Football Impact of Odell Beckham’s Injury: Sterling Shepard Set up for Success article feature image
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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87), Washington Redskins corner back Josh Norman (24).

  • Odell Beckam Jr. was ruled out of Sunday's matchup in Washington just in time to send fantasy football owners into a frenzy.
  • While no single Giants receiver can replace his production, Sterling Shepard is primed for more opportunities on offense.

More fantasy playoffs chaos has struck: Odell Beckham Jr. will miss Sunday’s matchup against the Redskins due to a bruised quad. This means no part four to the Beckham-Josh Norman rivalry, and no No. 1 wide receiver for the Giants and fantasy owners alike.

The only wide receivers with a higher target share than OBJ (28%) are Julio Jones (29%), Keenan Allen (30%) and DeAndre Hopkins (31%). There’s suddenly a plethora of uncertainty in an offense presently implied to score a middling 22.25 points.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Giants decide to feed Saquon Barkley to his heart’s desire, but Eli Manning will have to throw at some point. Manning typically targeted Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram while Beckham was sidelined for 12 games last season with a broken ankle.

Giants targets per game in 12 games without Odell Beckham Jr. in 2017

Sterling Shepard – 9 👀
Evan Engram – 7.8
Roger Lewis – 6.1

Corey Coleman most likely WR to get that Lewis workload

Engram coming back from hamstring injury and only played 32% snaps when healthy in Week 11

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 8, 2018

Shepard isn’t 100% healthy himself considering he was limited in practice for most of the week with a rib injury, but he wasn’t listed on the final injury report and is good to go for Sunday. There are plenty of reasons to believe Shepard is capable of providing significant fantasy value with his newfound target share.

  • The Redskins are allowing a league-high 88.5 receiving yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers (per Football Outsiders).
  • Shepard has nearly as many 100-yards games (4) as OBJ (5) since the beginning of last season, although Shepard has played seven additional games.
  • Shepard was the WR12 in PPR points per game in Weeks 9-17 last season upon returning from his own injury with OBJ sidelined.

The only bad news for Shepard is a likely shadow date with Norman. Still, the Redskins have asked their No. 1 cornerback to travel into the slot on just 31 total snaps this season, while Shepard has lined up inside on 63% of his snaps this season.

Norman’s lack of play in the slot combined with the Redskins’ zone-heavy scheme helped the likes of Jones (7-121-1), Mike Evans (3-51-0), Hopkins (5-56-1), Alshon Jeffery (3-31-0) and OBJ (8-136-0) produce in Norman’s shadow this season.

Shepard also deserves credit for flashing as one of the league’s more-underrated young talents in the slot.

Shepard is one of just 16 receivers with at least 50 receptions in each of the past three seasons.

Things are a bit murkier behind Shepard, but Corey Coleman seems like the best bet to take No. 2 receiver duties.

I sincerely hope this does not affect you in any way, but among #Giants WRs, I’m ranking Corey Coleman over Bennie Fowler & Russell Shepard with OBJ out.

Think all will see snaps, but Coleman best 1-for-1 replacement to OBJ & I think the team wants to get a longer look at him.

— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) December 8, 2018

Fowler (32 snaps) played ahead of both Coleman (11) and Shepard (7) during last week’s overtime win over the Bears, but the trio combined for just four total targets.

These receivers should be approached with extreme caution in season-long leagues (read: don’t play them), although their respective dirt-cheap price tags on DraftKings could provide some salary relief as punt plays.

It’s also tough to get behind Engram. His snaps plummeted in consecutive games following the team’s bye in Week 9, as Rhett Ellison has provided a better run-blocking option. It would be silly for the Giants not to use Engram more in the slot and out wide without Beckham, but his 7.8 targets from a season ago probably aren’t a solid predictor of Sunday’s usage.

Which brings us to Barkley. The league’s overall PPR RB2 currently boasts the highest median projection of any player in our Pro Models.

Of course, the negative of all this is the Giants already weren’t a very good passing offense… and now they’re without their best player. This has historically been terrible news for Manning.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Giants have averaged just 16.9 PPG without OBJ since 2014 compared to 22.6 PPG with.

Best of luck in the fantasy playoffs!

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