Not every waiver wire target needs to be a potential league winner. There is value in a reliable player that can produce when needed. And when it comes to Sterling Shepard, it’s safe to say that through two weeks, he looks like his pre-injury self.
Sterling Shepard belongs on far fewer waiver wires
The best use of your FAAB or waiver wire priority this week is to spend it on New York Jets WR Garrett Wilson. Unfortunately, most of you reading this are not going to get Wilson. Only one person in your league can get him.
If you miss out on Wilson, Shepard is a solid, if unspectacular consolation price. Still available in nearly 90% of Yahoo leagues, Shepard looks like he can be a weekly contributor in fantasy leagues.
Once it became clear Shepard was going to be ready to go in Week 1, it was only a matter of time before he popped up on the fantasy radar. Shepard has averaged double-digit PPR fantasy points per game every year of his career.
While the 14 PPG guy from 2019 is never coming back, an 11-12 PPG season would warrant him being on the majority of fantasy rosters.
In Week 1, Shepard played 72% of the snaps. Those are not true starter numbers, but it was his first game back from a midseason Achilles tear. We figured by the middle of October, Shepard would regain his starting role on the Giants. Instead, it took Shepard all of two weeks.
Shepard played 88% of the offensive snaps in Week 2. He and 2019 UDFA David Sills were the clear top two receivers on the team. Sills ran just one more route than Shepard (40-39), but Shepard severely out-targeted him 10-4. Richie James saw six targets. No other player on the Giants saw more than four.
Although Shepard only managed 34 yards on six receptions, the message is clear: Shepard is back.
It is also important to note that Kadarius Toney remains in the doghouse (he played just 40% of the snaps), and Wan’Dale Robinson is still out with a knee injury. Both of these players have far more upside than Shepard, but they’re far less reliable.
Even if both manage to ascend the depth chart, it’s likely it would come at Sills’ expense and not Shepard’s. I expect Shepard to remain a starter regardless.
The Giants remain a weak passing offense
Shepard definitely needs to be on fantasy rosters, but don’t go overboard trying to get him. The Giants may be 2-0, but this is still a team quarterbacked by Daniel Jones. All pass-catchers have their ceilings capped due to Jones.
Through two games, Jones is averaging just 27.5 pass attempts per game and has yet to throw for 200 yards. In fact, 17.8% of Jones’ season yardage total came on his 65-yard touchdown pass to Shepard in Week 1.
If not for that play, I’m not sure fantasy managers would be as interested in Shepard. I actually wish that play never happened because Shepard would likely be flying even further under the radar.
Shepard’s lone splash play is not what intrigues me. I’m in on Shepard going forward because of the volume. At the same time, fantasy managers need to acknowledge that Brian Daboll is going to limit Jones and relegate him to a game manager role. There will be games where Shepard’s high target share will come from a relatively small target pie.
How aggressively should fantasy managers target Sterling Shepard on the Week 3 waiver wire?
Shepard is certainly not the top priority on the Week 3 waiver wire. The aforementioned Wilson is the clear No. 1. I also would target higher upside players like Jahan Dotson and Raheem Mostert instead.
With that said, there is value in Shepard. Most fantasy rosters have a player or two on the back-end of the bench that is expendable. Shepard is likely better than him and well worth a spot on your roster.
Do not spend so much FAAB/waiver priority on Shepard as to hinder your ability to acquire potential league-winners in the future. Shepard is not going to win you your league. However, Shepard is going to be a very viable weekly Flex option and a solid fill-in during bye weeks and for injuries.
I would recommend a 10-15% FAAB bid or a mid-level waiver priority on Shepard. Fantasy managers in need of a wide receiver can consider bumping that up a bit to ensure they get someone, especially if you miss out on Wilson or Dotson.