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North Jersey Two Step: Brandon Marshall Signs With The Other New York Team

Brandon Marshall has signed a two-year deal with the New York Giants. 

Following the release of Victor Cruz last month, the New York Giants have signed an even older wide receiver to replace him, acquiring former Bronco, Dolphin, Bear, and Jet Brandon Marshall.

After the greatest season in the modern era by any wide receiver at least 31-years old, Marshall had a miserable campaign in 2016, finishing as the WR49 despite being 18th league-wide in targets.

Brandon Marshall and Elite Seasons Age 31-Plus

PlayerYearAgeTargetsCatchesReceiving YdsTouchdownsPPR FPS
Brandon Marshall201531173109150214343.2
Muhsin Muhammad20043116093140516329.5
Rod Smith200131172113134311313.3
Jordy Nelson20163115297125714306.7
Terrell Owens20073414181135515306.5
Marvin Harrison20063414895136612303.6
Joe Horn20043215394139911299.9
Jimmy Smith20013217611213738297.3
Andre Johnson20123116211215984295.8
Cris Carter19993413790124113292.1

Brandon Marshall Career

YearAgeTeamGamesTargetsCatchesYardsTDPPRPPGFinish
200622DEN153720309262.94.19WR89
200723DEN1617010213257276.517.28WR9
200824DEN1518110412656266.517.77WR5
200925DEN1515410111201027318.20WR7
201026MIA141468610143205.414.67WR20
201127MIA161418112146238.414.90WR11
201228CHI16192118150811334.820.93WR2
201329CHI16164100129512301.518.84WR6
201430CHI13106617218181.113.93WR34
201531NYJ16173109150214343.221.45WR3
201632NYJ15128597883155.810.39WR49

Will he bounce back to be a monster producer, or will this be another Andre Johnson to the Colts situation?1 And how will this affect his new teammates?

FATHER TIME IS UNDEFEATED

It’s not entirely clear if the Jets offense destroyed Marshall’s output, if it was the other way around, or if it was a mutual relationship of mediocrity, but the difference in their last two seasons is absolutely staggering (Note: 2016 is on the left).

Jets 1516

Eli Manning had an adjusted-yards-per-attempt of 6.4 last season compared to Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s 5.4, a substantial difference. The Giants also threw the ball 598 times to the Jets’ 550, eighth most league-wide.

While he was the overall QB20 last season, he was QB7 and QB8 in the two seasons prior, and even if Marshall has fallen off the age cliff, Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard are both currently 24-years old.

Marshall’s ADP had been WR36, and it will be interesting where it goes from here, as he clearly proved the last two seasons he can still finish well above and well below that. This landing, however, is one of the most competitive imaginable for wide receiver. Immediate reaction is he’s now entrenched as the team’s WR3. Prior to the signing, Marshall’s ADP might have reflected his potential to land as a WR2 or even a WR1 somewhere.

Shepard’s ADP is WR35, and if that falls as a result of this signing, it becomes very enticing because of their offense.

MARKET SHARE AND WHO EATS FIRST

In 2014, when Manning was QB8 and in the first of three seasons with Ben McAdoo calling the offense, Cruz was the team’s intended WR1. However, Cruz tore his patellar tendon after six games. Beckham exploded on the scene as a rookie thereafter, finishing with a 21.7 percent target market share despite only playing in 12 games. Larry Donnell finished with the third-most team targets that year, though his 92 target output was slightly below Cruz and Preston Parker‘s combined 97.

Rueben Randle played 85 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2014, followed by 89 percent in 2015. He was fairly miserable but still finished as WR32 and WR33, claiming low-end WR3 spots through sheer volume and attrition. In 2015, Cruz missed the entire year with a calf injury related to his patellar tendon recovery. Shane Vereen was third in team targets with 81. Career special teamer Dwayne Harris was the third WR in both snap count and targets, but ended the year with only 56 percent of offensive snaps played and a 9.2 percent target market share.

Looking at last season, and considering the move to acquire Marshall, it seems that McAdoo wants to frequently run three wide receiver sets, but previously due to injury and personnel he had never quite been able to.

Giants Snap Counts

That implies neither Beckham nor Shepard are in great jeopardy of losing a significant share of offensive snaps or targets. While that may speak positively for Manning, it could also speak negatively for Vereen and Will Tye.

Beckham and Shepard combined for 18 of the team’s 26 receiving touchdowns last season. Tye, Donnell, and Jerrell Adams each had one, and all of New York’s running backs combined had one.

Manning threw 35 touchdowns in 2015, and 30 in 2014; even worse, the team scored 420 points in 2015, 380 in 2014, and plummeted all the way to 310 last season. If positive regression to the mean occurs in their team scoring, which seems likely, it means Beckham and Shepard can maintain their numbers without Marshall, the running backs, and tight ends being so unproductive.

One explanation for the drop in scoring might be the defense improving so much, but that usually implies a rise in positive game flow snaps, as well as rushing attempts, and both of those things went in the opposite direction.

Giants McAdoo years

YearPositive Game FlowNeutral Game FlowNegative Game Flow
201630.2%22.6%47.2%
201535.0%19.0%46.0%
201432.3%17.8%50.0%

With Rashad Jennings and Cruz gone, and with the addition of Marshall and a healthy Vereen, it seems unlikely their passing production per team attempt remains so poor, even if the number of attempts falls due to rushing competency, and/or passing efficiency.

It’s not unrealistic for Vereen to maintain the target market share he had in 2015 (13.2 percent), Tye to maintain his and Donnell’s combined 15.4 percent from last year, and Beckham and Shepard to again split the 45.9 percent they had last season, which totals 74.5 percent. It’s highly unlikely that Marshall sees the 129 targets he did last year, even if the offense goes hyperspeed and pass heavy, and/or he completely usurps Shepard for the WR2 role.

His upside is probably in the touchdowns, which is where the running back(s) and tight end(s) would suffer, even if the offense as a whole scores closer to the 400 points averaged in McAdoo’s first two seasons, instead of the 310 last season.

If the personnel groups of Beckham/Randle/Parker, and Beckham/Randle/Harris, can produce that kind of scoring with Manning and McAdoo, there’s little reason to doubt Beckham/Shepard/Marshall can restore this offense to it.

While that helps bolster confidence in Manning at his current ADP, if Marshall’s rises much from WR36, it would likely imply Shepard’s going down from WR35. I’d rather have the cheaper 24-year old sophmore than the more expensive 33-year old who couldn’t turn 129 targets into even a WR3 finish.

Shepard’s rookie season most closely resembles Jarvis Landry‘s, who followed up his WR30 finish as a rookie with WR11 and WR13 campaigns in his second and third year. Shepard’s WR36 finish last year is right in line with Landry and both of Randle’s low-end WR3 finishes as the Giants WR2 in the two years prior. It will be exciting to see how McAdoo uses all of the weapons now at his disposal.

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  1. Hat tip if you immediately realized Johnson was also in between his age 32 and 33 seasons like Marshall, and also left a team where his quarterback was Fitzpatrick, the year prior.  (back)
By 14Team Mocker | @14TeamMocker | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. PaulC says:

    Giants fan here. The Plaxico comparison might be a little lazy, but Eli did love throwing to him, and given Marshall's historical record of being a target hog, I think he will outproduce Shepard by a meaningful amount. The offense Plaxico was in was a little different (better run game, more vertical passing), and he was the number one guy with just an aging Amani Toomer next to him, whereas Marshall is clearly behind Beckham, so the comparison isn't great. But knowing Eli's tendencies, I would be confident that Marshall if healthy at least becomes his go-to guy in the end zone, and seeing how Marshall in the past has won his QB's trust and had impressive market shares everywhere he's gone, I think he's a better bet than Shepard for 2017. Beyond that, Shepard's youth might make him the better pick in dynasty, but I think it's highly unlikely Marshall will bust from a performance standpoint. Given his age and body type, injuries are the big risk, but if the price isn't bad, I think he's a great pick next year.

  2. JLaps says:

    Giants fan here too, and I completely agree. Having watched a decent amount of the Jets last year I think Marshall's poor numbers were more the result of poor QB play than anything. He did have some drops, and there's a non-zero chance he is starting to fall off the age cliff and this turns out poorly, but if he's got anything left in the tank I would expect him to usurp Shepard as the WR2 in that offense, especially if the Giants don't upgrade at TE.

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