New York Giants and Daniel Jones Ascending in 2023

by Joel Ybarra · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

A Turnaround in New York

Just two short seasons ago, the New York Giants’ offense, led by Daniel Jones, scored a league-low 24 touchdowns. Head coach Jason Garrett was fired after that 2021 season. Garrett was replaced by Brian Daboll, the OC largely credited with developing Josh Allen and bringing the Bills’ offense to its current heights. Daboll was hired to do the same trick in New York – elevate Daniel Jones and awaken a slumbering Giants’ offense. The turnaround has begun: the Giants’ offense scored 40 touchdowns last season – nearly twice as many as in the previous season. The decision-makers in New York showed their support by going all in on Jones, signing him to a $40 millon per year contract. Jones was competent last season, even while the Giants ran out the league’s worst receiving unit, starring Isaiah Hodgins, Richie James, David Sills and rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger.

Despite middling roster talent, the Giants earned a wild card spot and won their first playoff game since their Super Bowl win in 2012. It says a lot about Daboll. If that is what he can do with Jones and meager offensive weaponry, imagine what he can do with another year in New York and some upgrades in skill position talent. The Giants franchise tagged Saquon Barkley in the 2023 offseason. They also invested in the other skill position groups, as well as shoring up the offensive line. Don’t sleep on the Giants and Daniel Jones. They enter 2023 as one of the NFL’s ascending offenses.

An Ascending Quarterback

Daniel Jones blossomed under Daboll’s tutelage. He improved in fantasy points per game from 15.9 in 2021 (no. 17) to 18.4 (no. 10) in 2022. He also improved his Accuracy Rating from 7.2 (no. 30) to 8.0 (no. 5), his True Passer Rating from 71.8 (no. 26) to 94.0 (no. 8) and his True Completion Percentage from 70.9 (no. 19) to 75.7-percent (no. 1). Jones was also smarter with the ball. He committed only eight turnovers (three lost fumbles and five INTs) in 2022. This was after turning the ball over 10 times in 11 games in 2021. He had 39 turnovers in 27 games the two seasons before that – his first two seasons in the league.

Daboll has helped clean up Jones’ game, and, judging by the new contract, is a believer in the now-franchise QB. He capitalized on Jones’ strengths last season, letting him rush for the highest yard total of his career by far (708 yards, no. 5). With an upgraded skill core, Jones will add passing production to an already solid rushing floor.

Tooling Up

Darren Waller

The Giants traded a 2023 third-round pick for Darren Waller one week after signing Jones to his new contract. Waller spent most of the 2022 season injured. The previous season (2021), he led the Raiders in targets all but one game in which he played more than 25-percent of snaps. He was TE6 in PPG that season in the 11 games he played. He was a top-5 TE in PPG both of the two seasons before that. Waller represents a big, athletic target for Jones.

Isaiah Hodgins

New York also acquired Isaiah Hodgins last season from the Bills’ practice squad. Hodgins was an elite college producer with an 85th-percentile (40.8-percent) Dominator Rating. He turned out to be a revelation with the Giants, adjusting quickly to the offense.

In eight regular season games with the team, he compiled 43 targets, 392 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He then exploded in the playoffs versus the Vikings, earning nine targets and catching eight of them for 105 yards and a touchdown. Hodgins’ underlying route-running metrics indicate the production was not a fluke. He ran just 218 routes during the season, but was no. 1 in the league in Route Win Rate, winning on 53.0-percent of his routes.

Offensive Line

The Giants’ o-line has been an area of concern in recent seasons. They were no. 24 in the league in Adjust Sack Rate (8.4-percent) in 2022, according to Football Outsiders. The Giants were also no. 21 in Stuffed Run Rate (18-percent) according to that site, but no. 2 in Power Success (78-percent). The front office has invested significant draft capital the last few seasons adding to the o-line. They drafted left tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. They then also drafted 6-8, 337-pound right tackle Evan Neal seventh overall in last year’s draft. Neal struggled in his rookie season, sustaining a knee injury which sidelined him for four games. The Giants selected center John Michael Schmitz from Minnesota in the 2023 draft, at no. 53 overall. Under Daboll’s watch, the young talent on the o-line will improve and become a solid unit in the upcoming season.

High-value Assets to Acquire

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones is being drafted as QB14 on Underdog – in the 10th round overall, after Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott. Jones outperformed both Cousins and Prescott in fantasy PPG last season, and tied Tagovailoa with 18.4 PPG. Tua, Kirk and Dak also offer little to no rushing production. Jones ran for over 700 yards last season – no. 5 in the league. He is guaranteed to improve as a passer with upgraded receiving talent, and will easily outperform all three of those QBs in fantasy.

Darren Waller

Waller is going as TE7 (round seven overall) in Underdog. He is the last in a tier of high-upside tight ends, and could easily finish in the top-5 at the position, if healthy. It will not be surprising if Waller is Jones’ top target, based solely on the investment the Giants made in him.

They signed Waller to a 3-year, $51 million contract in the offseason, making him the highest per-season earner of any tight end in the league – higher than both Travis Kelce and George Kittle.

Isaiah Hodgins

It sounds strange to say, but Hodgins, a sixth-round draft pick who played a total of 20 NFL snaps prior to week 10 of last season, is going to be a go-to wide receiver in this surging Giants’ offense. Parris Campbell and Wan’Dale Robinson are both slot receivers and Darius Slayton is the deep threat. Slayton had an ADOT of 12.5 yards in 2022. That is nearly four yards deeper than Hodgins’ ADOT (8.7 yards). Hodgins will be the closest thing Jones has to a possession receiver. He scored four touchdowns in eight games to close out last season and will look to improve on his 1.80 Yards Per Route Run. Hodgins can be drafted currently in the 15th round overall, as WR79.

Awakening the Sleeping Giants

The Giants improved in nearly every offensive metric last season, all without much skill position talent other than bell cow back Saquon Barkley. Help is on the way this season in the form of improved pass-catchers and a solidified offensive line. It is easy to doubt Daniel Jones based on his paltry touchdown production and past propensity to the turn the ball over, but he made vast improvements last season. The Giants will look to keep pace in a competitive NFC East which boasts at least two other top offenses: the Cowboys and the Eagles. This Giants’ offense will awaken and provide some formidable fantasy outcomes in 2023.