Darren Waller Fantasy Outlook: New York Giants TE Has Immense Talent and Many Red Flags

    When healthy, few tight ends are more talented than the New York Giants' Darren Waller. What is the aging TE's fantasy outlook in 2023?

    At PFN, we’ve researched more than 350 fantasy football players, trying to identify which ones are overrated, underrated, and priced right. With that in mind, here is New York Giants TE Darren Waller’s fantasy outlook for 2023.

    Behind in research? Get a trade offer in your dynasty or redraft league? Not sure who to start or sit this week? Leverage PFN’s FREE fantasy tools — our Fantasy Football Draft Kit, Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Calculator, and Start/Sit Optimizer! Put the finishing touch on your A+ draft with 1 of our 425+ fantasy football team names.

    Darren Waller’s 2023 Fantasy Outlook

    A lot’s changed for the Giants in the past year. Perhaps their biggest offensive moves consisted of trading former first-round pick Kadarius Toney for a 2023 third-round pick and then sending that selection to the Raiders this offseason for Waller. This double-swap might prove to be brilliant, short-sighted, or somewhere in between. Regardless, it matters.

    Because while Toney oozes potential, Waller is a win-now playmaker — one of the game’s most talented tight ends, who now joins an offense that might be one Waller-like producer away from a deep playoff run.

    While New York’s receiving corps is deep, it’s not long on alpha options. Yes, they might have the best No. 5. and No. 6 WRs in the league. But their No. 1 and No. 2 WRs aren’t much better, if at all.

    This is a mixed-bag group of often-injured veterans (Sterling Shepard and Parris Campbell), post-reclamation projects (Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins), and high-priced youngsters (Wan’Dale Robinson and Jalin Hyatt).

    Waller brings something unique to the table. He’s an immediate positional mismatch on a team that doesn’t (yet) present many mismatch opportunities. He might actually make his WR teammates better by drawing more defensive attention than 2022 rookie TE Daniel Bellinger ever could.

    So yes, there are promising signs for Waller, whose per-game positional production is almost peerless. In the last four years, he’s averaged 5.4 catches on 7.7 targets for 65 yards per contest while collecting 17 scores. Those are sizeable TE numbers that rank him among the near-elites.

    However, we have to dig into his yellow flags, some of which border on red. Some of these flags existed last summer; others are new.

    First, he’s now officially an “often-injured” TE. There’s no way around this. He missed six contests in 2021 and another eight last season.

    Despite nearly unrivaled per-game effectiveness, he hasn’t been able to remain on the field, resulting in much more muted fantasy production than he saw during his heyday in 2019 and 2020.

    Second, he’ll turn 31 in September, which is generally post-prime for tight ends and for skill players in general. While knee and hamstring injuries have dogged him these past two years, his advancing age doesn’t help.

    Third, as alluded to above, he’s no longer an automatic primary target. Back in 2020, he was No. 2 in the league (behind only future teammate Davante Adams) in red-zone targets. He remained highly active in scoring situations these past two seasons, thanks to the Raiders’ top-heavy offense.

    But in New York, all bets are off. Despite what the Giants paid for him, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be a consistently targeted receiver, including in the red zone.

    Again, the Giants are fairly loaded with pass catchers of various experience levels. Hodgins and Slayton will get their turns. So will Hyatt and Robinson. And we cannot ignore Campbell or Shepard.

    Fourth, Daniel Jones doesn’t throw like Derek Carr. The Giants attempted the eighth-fewest passes last year with a healthy Saquon Barkley and a highly mobile Jones, who combined for a whopping 415 carries. Jones averaged only 29.5 throws per game.

    That’s Giants football, at least in this era, where their rushing and defense can win games. For Waller, the days of playing in an offense that needs to throw early and often are long gone. Despite his talent, we should anticipate fewer looks and continued high injury risks. That combination should keep him out of near-elite TE conversations and might even push him outside the top 10 overall.

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles