After a slow start to his career that had some fantasy football managers concerned, New York Giants rookie WR Kadarius Toney appears to have found his footing. The 2021 first-round pick will be a hot topic on Week 6 waivers in most leagues. Should you join the masses vying to add Toney off the waiver wire? What should be the expectations moving forward as the Giants deal with a litany of injuries to critical players?
Kadarius Toney is breaking out as he takes on a prominent role
In the NFL Draft, there are always a few picks that make you scratch your heads. Instantly, that player’s performance is placed under a microscope as he attempts to live up to the draft capital invested. In 2021, one of those players was Toney, whom the Giants selected with the No. 20 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Toney’s selection didn’t make a ton of sense given that New York already had a plethora of pass catchers on their roster. Their depth chart included Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and free-agent addition Kenny Golladay.
Well, it’s a good thing they had that depth because every one of those receivers is injured. This incredible rash of injuries has forced Toney into a significant role — and he has delivered.
Over the last two weeks, Toney has led the Giants in targets. He recorded 9 looks in Week 4, followed by 13 against the Cowboys in Week 5. Toney was the WR29 in Week 4 with 13.9 points scored. After posting 10 receptions for 189 yards this past Sunday, Toney is the overall WR2 in Week 5 (with Monday Night Football still to come).
In the last two games, Toney has seen 28.2% of the Giants’ targets and 46.8% of the WR volume. There is no doubt the absences of Slayton, Shepard, and Golladay have helped Toney’s cause. But he has now staked his claim as a weekly fixture in New York’s offense.
Can he sustain this level of performance?
While I do not think Toney will average 11 targets a game going forward, he will continue to be a significant part of the Giants’ offensive attack. Toney is showing everything we loved about his play at Florida. From his route running to his elusiveness, Toney is a legitimate problem for defenders.
While he is not a physical receiver, the separation he creates coming out of breaks makes him an easy target for Daniel Jones (if Jones can return in Week 6 after suffering a concussion against the Cowboys). Jones, who is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol, was replaced by backup Mike Glennon.
There is a chance we see Slayton and Shepard (hamstrings) return in Week 6. Golladay is another story — he hyperextended his knee in the first quarter.
Even if/when the Giants are at full strength, I do not see Toney returning to the 18% snap share he averaged in the first two games. He is here to stay, and the odd man out will likely be Slayton.
As things stand, Toney is a solid WR3 in fantasy. In games where the Giants are trailing and forced to throw, he could post massive lines thanks to his athletic ability.
Will Toney face league discipline for his ejection?
Toney made a dumb mistake on Sunday. There is no sugarcoating it. You can not throw a punch in a game — plain and simple. Head coach Joe Judge was clearly upset by Toney’s actions after watching his rookie WR get ejected in the fourth quarter.
“There’s a pretty distinct line in terms of competing and doing the things we’re not going to condone as a team that put us behind,” Judge said. “That’s not going to be accepted. It’s not going to be condoned. That’s as far as I’m going to go with that. Obviously, it resulted in him leaving the game and I’m just going to leave it at that right now.”
Judge also stated he had not spoken with Toney and would let the league handle any suspension. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday [October 11] that the league office would evaluate Toney for a likely fine, but no suspension is expected. But until we have a definitive decision from the NFL, a suspension could still be in the cards. Any ban could derail the momentum Toney has built over the last two games.
Did the rookie WR injure his ankle in Week 5?
I don’t remember seeing anything like this before. The Giants have injuries to their QB1, RB1, WR1, WR2, WR3, and now apparently Toney — but it might not be as doom and gloom as we think.
According to Art Stapleton of the USA Today, head coach Joe Judge announced Toney sustained an ankle injury on Sunday but stated: “He doesn’t think it’s a significant injury.” Stapleton made it appear Judge is not overly concerned and this should not be an injury that lingers.
It’s highly likely we see his name pop up on the injury report this week but I would not let it impact my decision on adding Toney to any fantasy roster I could, even if it does cost him a week at worst.
Should fantasy managers target Toney in Week 6 waiver wire claims?
In my opinion, either Toney or Darrel Williams needs to be the No. 1 waiver priority in Week 6. Of the two, Toney likely has the highest upside for a long-term return on investment. He could be a weekly starter in fantasy, whereas Williams will always be the No. 2 option on the Chiefs’ roster behind a healthy Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
With bye weeks starting in Week 6, Toney would be a direct fill-in for those needing a replacement should this ankle injury not be overly impactful. In fact, PFN recommended Toney as a potential option for Curtis Samuel managers on Sunday (humble brag).
The Giants have upcoming matchups against the Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, and Raiders ahead of their Week 10 bye. Assuming Jones can clear concussion protocols and return quickly, Toney would be a WR3 in Week 6. However, if Glennon is under center, Toney’s value would take a hit. Regardless, he needs to be rostered in all fantasy formats.