Right around the middle of July is when you can truly start to feel it in the air.
Football is just around the corner.
With training camps looming on the horizon, the ground begins to shift in the media landscape. We are fully immersed in “list season,” as outlets big and small start to count down their lists of the best players at each position group.
Another change that makes one feel that football is right around the corner? Draft season is upon us in the fantasy football space. Some of you have probably seen people you follow on Twitter posting about the Scott Fish Bowl, a massive fantasy football league entering its 12th season.
Do not ask me about how my draft is going ...
But with football just around the corner, it is time to get the content flowing again. And it is the return of fantasy football that gave me an idea for this piece. Some of you might be familiar with “Pirate” or “Thievery” fantasy leagues. For those who are unfamiliar, the idea is this: If you beat a team on a given week, you get to poach one player from their roster.
Of course, if you lose, then a player is poached from your roster.
What might that look like in the NFL?
Before diving into what that could look like for the New York Giants, I wanted to craft some stipulations. For now, we will keep it to the three NFC East opponents. Perhaps in a future league we can look at the entire Giants’ schedule. I also wanted to branch out a bit regarding positions, so we are talking non-quarterbacks only in this piece.
And yes, there is also the caveat that the Giants would need to win some games in this scenario, but that is a discussion for another time.
With that said, who are the three players I would poach for the Giants from their NFC East rivals in such a world?
Let’s dive in.
Dallas Cowboys - Micah Parsons
We can start with perhaps the easiest selection.
As mentioned earlier, we are right in the thick of “list season,” as outlets all over the media space are counting down the top players at each position. Of course, the NFL itself will unveil their list of the top 100 players in the game in August, right before the season kicks off.
Over at USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, myself and Doug Farrar are working through our own countdowns of the top players at each position. This summer, both off-ball linebacker and edge defender were put together by yours truly.
And despite his status as a rookie, Parsons made both lists.
His ability to impact the game from both spots makes him an extremely valuable asset for the Cowboys. Whether on plays like this, stopping the run as an off-ball linebacker:
Or this snap against the Arizona Cardinals, where he flows to the football for a tackle behind the line of scrimmage:
Or what he can do as a pass rusher. After all, as a rookie last season Parsons posted an impressive 13 sacks, en route to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors as well as finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. Here against the Las Vegas Raiders, watch as Parsons converts speed-to-power off the edge:
Parsons is one of a handful of players in the NFL who truly have no position, and perhaps he is best described as a defensive specialist. Now imagine what Wink Martindale could design for him on the defensive side of the football, particularly with the blitz and pressure packages Martindale has brought to bear in his career as a defensive coordinator? The Giants could use him in a more traditional off-ball role as a weakside linebacker, or implement some pressure packages with Parsons, Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux all on the field at the same time.
The possibilities are endless.
Philadelphia Eagles - Dallas Goedert
Given the additions to their roster this offseason, there are a number of options to consider from the Philadelphia Eagles. When I first started working through this project, I considered players such as the newly-acquired A.J. Brown at wide receiver or Haason Reddick on the edge. I also though about adding to secondary with Darius Slay, one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
But considering how Slay is used best, playing in zone or off-man techniques, the fit with Martindale did not seem as solid as I imagined, so I went in a different direction.
Or even old friend James Bradberry, but that seemed a little too easy.
The Giants do have a need at the tight end position, with the departure of Evan Engram this off-season as well as the release of Kyle Rudolph. While New York did add at the position this offseason, drafting Daniel Bellinger in the fourth round and signing both Jordan Akins and Ricky Seals-Jones, finding the long-term answer at the position would be a wise move for the organization.
Since entering the league, Goedert has been a consistent producer for them in the passing game, and 2021 was no exception. Last season the South Dakota State product caught 56 passes on 76 targets for 830 yards and four touchdowns, and his average of 14.8 yards per reception was his best mark since entering the league.
One of his best traits is what Goedert can after securing the catch. According to Next Gen Stats, Goedert averaged 7.1 yards of YAC per reception last season, placing him eighth in the NFL in that statistic.
Behind players like Deebo Samuel and Ja’Marr Chase.
Here is just one example of Goedert creating after the catch:
Goedert is also a matchup problem for defenses, and a weapon against man coverage. Watch as he gets behind Dallas for a big play here:
Having Goedert on the roster would help solidify the tight end position, and give Daniel Jones another weapon in the passing game. During his time in Buffalo with the Bills, Brian Daboll helped turn Dawson Knox into one of the game’s top tight end options. Last season, Knox was second on the Bills in touchdown receptions, becoming a go-to target for Josh Allen. Putting Goedert in Daboll’s hands seems like a win-win for the Giants.
Washington Commanders - Terry McLaurin
We close this out with the man who just secured a contract extension from his team. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin would be another great addition to the Giants’ passing game, given the current questions over that wide receiver group. Can Kenny Golladay live up to his big contract? Will Kadarius Toney live up to his first-round status? Was Wan’Dale Robinson a smart move in the second round? What are the Giants going to get from Sterling Shepard this season, and can he stay healthy?
A player that answers many of those questions on his own is McLaurin.
The Washington receiver has been a consistent producer since entering the league in 2019. As a rookie that season, McLaurin caught 58 passes for 919 yards and seven touchdowns. He followed that up with another 87 receptions for 1,118 yards and four scores during his second year in the league.
Last season, McLaurin caught 77 passes for 1,053 yards and another five touchdowns.
Making these numbers all the more impressive is the group of quarterbacks he has been playing alongside. From Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins as a rookie, through Taylor Heinicke last year, McLaurin has produced regardless of who is throwing him the football.
Whether separating downfield against man coverage:
Beating a press-aligned cornerback off the snap and then creating after the catch:
Or being the proverbial “quarterback’s best friend:”
Adding McLaurin to the Giants would go a long way towards stabilizing the wide receiver room, and it would give Jones a consistent producer at the position who can stress a defense at all levels of the field.
Now we’d just need New York to win some games in this scenario to make these dreams come true.