Most No. 1 wide receivers are drafted in the first four rounds of the Underdog Draft, but New York Giants wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay — who are currently vying for the No. 1 wide receiver role — can be acquired much later. Toney is available in the late eighth round (81.6 overall, WR39), while Golladay can be taken in the early 11th.th round (123.3, WR56) The No. 1 role in new head coach Brian Daboll’s high-flying offense has helped Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs finish as the WR3 and WR7 the past two years. Smart drafters should take the opportunity to draft both players, given their friendly players, but one man stands out as a superstar in the making.
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Kadarius Toney (Underdog ADP: 81.6, WR39)
There are two reasons to give Toney the edge in the wide receiver battle in New York. The first is Toney’s otherworldly talent profile, and the second is his schematic fit in the Daboll offense.
Breaking down the data from SportsInfoSolutions (SiS) down to the per-route level, one can see how Toney stacks up to the rest of the field in both yards per route run and targets per route run. These two statistics have been shown to be highly predictive of future success and can help identify breakout players with a moderate sample size. Toney’s 2.2 yards per carry is tied for 11thth among wide receivers who saw at least 50 targets last year, while his 29% of targets per route run rate ranked fifth. There have only been four wide receivers who beat Toney in both categories: Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, AJ Brown and Antonio Brown. In his injury-delayed rookie season, Toney still managed to hang with the elite in both metrics.
When it comes to physical profiles, Toney is also remarkably similar to the aforementioned Diggs. Both men are six feet tall, two pounds apart in the mid-190s, and each posted nearly identical speed and agility numbers in college. Toney’s uniqueness shines through his explosive leaps and side burst. Nowhere were these traits more clearly displayed than after the catch. According to SiS, Toney registered broken and missed snaps at a reception rate of 46.2%, besting all NFL wide receivers (minimum 50 targets) by a margin of 14.5%. At all positions, Toney was second only to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris.
Before the catch, Toney also wins against defensive backs via Daboll’s preferred method, by picking himself apart. Back in Buffalo, and before that at the University of Alabama, Daboll worked with highly talented, mobile running backs and saw firsthand the positive impact that talented separators can have on passers who thrive while throwing on the run. In Buffalo, he had Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis creating space for Josh Allen. At Alabama, Calvin Ridley, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs opened the door for Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. In 2021, Toney paced the New York wide receiver room in average yards of separation at the point of catch, according to NextGenStats, with an average distance of 3.4 yards between him and the nearest defender. Toney is the epitome of a Daboll No. 1 wide receiver.
Kenny Golladay (Underdog ADP: 123.3 WR56)
Nicknamed “Babytron” after Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Golladay closed out the 2019 season looking like he would live up to the lofty moniker. The then-third-year receiver caught 65 of 116 targets for 1,190 receiving yards, sixth most in the NFL and a league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns, establishing himself as one of the NFL’s leading jump ball and end zone targets. Per PFF, Golladay’s contested catch rate of 63.4% ranked sixth in the NFL, accounting for a whopping 40% of his 65 catches. Golladay also managed to catch five of his third-ranked, 15 end zone targets.
Golladay hit a healthy four-game hitting streak in 2020 in which he was a WR20 in half the PPR, per game. It’s important to keep in mind that Golladay’s 2020 target total of 29 is a very small sample size, but even so, his yards per drive (2.6) and targets per drive (24%) are worth mentioning. Both rates are remarkable and point to an exceptional season that could have been.
New York quickly signed Golladay to a four-year, $72 million deal in the 2021 offseason, but the following year proved to be his most injury-plagued season yet, as the veteran wide receiver dealt with hamstring, knee, hip and chest injuries. He somehow managed to play in 14 games despite the injuries, but his 37.2 yards per game were easily the worst of his career, and his 1.7 average yards per catch was the lowest in the NextGenStats 2021 database. more worryingly, in his dominant 2019 season, Golladay’s average yards per carry reached 1.9. The way Golladay wins is different than what Daboll looks for in a receiver—especially with a scattershot passer at quarterback like Daniel Jones.
Which one should you draw?
Kadarius Toney is already shaping up to be an elite NFL wide receiver and his inherent ability to separate from defensive backs makes him a perfect fit for Brian Daboll’s legendary No. 1 wide receiver role. Kenny Golladay is a talented jump ball specialist in his own right, but his style of play doesn’t match what Daboll is looking for from his top target. Both have great value, given their current ADP, but Toney could be a mid-to-late round No. 1 draft must on Underdog Fantasy right now. Draw him aggressively at his current 81.6, WR39 ADP.
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