Spotlight - WR Amani Toomer, New York Giants
Posted 8/25 by Jason Wood and David Yudkin,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
This isn't the first time I've found myself being more optimistic than the consensus about Amani Toomer. Admittedly, this year my call is predicated less on what he did the previous year versus my interpretation about how his situation has CHANGED from a year ago.
For five straight seasons, Toomer was a consistently solid producer, if not overly impactful. From 1999-2003, Toomer had at least 1,000 yards receiving and finished among the top 17 at his position four of five seasons (he was 26th the other year).
But last year Toomer suffered from the "perfect storm" and his stats suffered. A torn hamstring robbed Toomer is his explosiveness and ability to make cuts. His route running was always a strength, and not being able to cut with precision really made him much easier to defend. On top of that, the Kurt Warner/Eli Manning experiment was an abject failure. The team threw for only 12 TDs as the offensive line couldn't keep the pressure off of the QBs nor could the receiving corps get open with regularity. Add to that a difficult schedule and Toomer ended up with a disappointing 51 receptions, 747 yards and zero (yes, ZERO) TDs.
So what's different this year?
1) Eli Manning was thrown to the wolves last season, but improved late in the year and did enough to suggest better days are ahead. He's too talented to think he won't make progress this year, particularly as he's been able to run with the first team offense all offseason (as opposed to sharing snaps with Warner). And don't forget that the Giants line looks much improved from a season ago.
2) Plaxico Burress will give Toomer a new lease on life. At 30 years old, coming off the season he did, I think having Burress aboard can only help Toomer. For his entire career, Toomer has been the lead WR and been the target of opposing teams' top corners. Now, Burress will fill that role, meaning Toomer will see CB2s and more single coverage.
3) Toomer is healthy. Toomer has been a picture of health all offseason, and while hamstring injuries can be recurrent, the fact he's practiced regularly with no restrictions gives me some comfort.
- When healthy, Toomer has consistently produce 1,000 yard and 65-75 receptions
- Eli Manning should benefit from a year of experience and a better line
- Plaxico Burress allows Toomer to play the WR2 role for the first time in his career, facing less defensive attention in the process
- Manning still has a LONG way to go and Toomer looks, at best to be the team's 4th target (Burress, Shockey, Barber)
- A torn hamstring can be re-injured rather easily, and at 30 years old, Toomer's recovery time may be extensive
Amani Toomer is a forgotten man this year, and that's your opportunity. Do I expect him to return to his 70 catch, 1100 yard form of his prime? Of course not. But he's also a better player than his stats showed last year. It's not like he hit the wall, he had a torn hamstring and dealt with the baptism by fire of Eli Manning playing as a rookie behind no offensive line. This year, Manning is more experienced, the line is better, and Burress helps defray defensive attention from Toomer. Considering Toomer is being drafted, on average, 54th among WRs (in the 13th round!), he's going to make his way on quite a few of my rosters. Last year he finished 53rd and that was without scoring a touchdown. He's been in the top 20 four of the last six seasons, and 26th another. This is a guy who could very easily fill in as a bye week starter for you, draft accordingly.
David Yudkin's Thoughts
Quick...name a 30-year-old WR that had 5 straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, ranked in the Top 30 in each of those seasons, and is currently not being drafted in the Top 50 WR. That, of course, is the current state of affairs for none other than New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer, once considered a sure thing for at least WR2 production and now banished to relative fantasy football obscurity.
Like all of the Giants receiving threats last year, Toomer’s numbers took a precipitous drop-off with the departure of Kerry Collins and the insertion of either Kurt Warner or much ballyhooed rookie Eli Manning at quarterback. Neither one could match the numbers that Kerry Collins had posted for several seasons, but to be fair the hiring of Tom Coughlin as head coach likely was as big a culprit to their limited success.
The drop-off in production for New York receivers was universal across the board, as collectively the WR production went from 172-2220-11 all the way down to 129-1670-2, a 40% decrease in terms of fantasy numbers. Tim Carter caught the first touchdown by a wide receiver in Week 2 and David Tyree caught the only other TD by a wide receiver in Week 17.
Toomer, 6’3”, 208 lbs., averaged only 3.5 fantasy points with Manning at the helm. He didn’t do much better with Warner, averaging 6.0 fantasy ppg. And he was shutout in the TD column with both QB, becoming just the 8th WR to catch 50 passes in a season without a TD. One thing is certain: Toomer will not catch fewer TD passes than he did last season.
Originally a 2nd round draft pick in 1996, Toomer has gone on to set team records in almost every major receiving category. From 1999-2003, he averaged 75 receptions, 1,146 receiving yards, and 6 TD per season before sliding to 51-747-0 last year. He also had his consecutive games played streak snapped at 127 games when he sat out the final game of the season.
Toomer had 19 games with 100+ yards receiving including a Herculean effort against Indianapolis in 2002 on fantasy Super Bowl week with 10 receptions, 203 receiving yards, and 3 TD. Last year, Toomer was hard-pressed to get that much yardage in any three games combined.
The Giants signed WR Plaxico Burress from Pittsburgh to be a big (in stature) target for Manning at 6’5”, 228 lbs. Burress has been getting a lot of publicity to unseat Toomer, but that seems a bit offbase if you look at the stats. In Burress’ two best years (2001-2002), he averaged 72 receptions, 1,166 receiving yards, and 6.5 TD, but Toomer actually outproduced Burress in both of those seasons. Yet Burress’ ADP is 20 spots better than Toomer’s (WR 32 vs. WR 52). Given that Toomer is the one sticking with the same team and Burress is the one having to learn a new system, that seems backwards.
- Already is a proven commodity and has a year in the Coughlin system.
- Holds most Giants team receiving records and until last year was considered a reliable fantasy option.
- Had a great 5-year run, ranking 15th, 13th, 26th, 6th, and 17th in that time.
- Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s coaching style has normally centered on defense and a solid ground attack with average passing numbers.
- Did next to nothing with Manning at quarterback, posting numbers comparable to the #73 WR (projected over a full season).
- His numbers could drop off even more should Plaxico Burress take over the role of the team’s #1 WR.
Toomer is an established, reliable receiver. If Manning can develop a rapport with him and get him the ball, his numbers should rise (although don’t expect another Top 5 season). I doubt at 30-years-old that Toomer is washed up. His numbers last year with Manning were unimpressive, but with another year together, he should do better than last year.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
Not much to see here. Giants will run it a lot this year, and Eli will look for Plax and Shockey before Toomer.
Amani Toomer should benefit some as Eli Manning matures. I think having Plaxico Burress on the other side may free him up a bit. I do not see a dramatic rise in TD output.
Comeback player of the year possibilities here. Give the guy a break, he played on one leg for most of the season, without a complimentary receiver. Last year was an aberration, not a trend. He now has a compliment on the other side of the ball, a healthy and more importantly focused Shockey, depth at RB, and an improving QB.
Amani Toomer Projections
|Message Board Consensus||0||0||64||921||4|