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Fact or Fiction: Fun with numbers & stats predictions

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The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

Leonard Williams will have more sacks than Kenny Golladay has touchdown catches.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Leonard Williams had 11.5 sacks last season, but it is extremely difficult to repeat double-digit sack numbers for a defensive tackle in the NFL. In recent history, only Aaron Donald has been able to accomplish the feat. It is more likely Williams lands closer to his previous highs in sack numbers of 2016 (seven) and 2018 (five).

Is it more likely Golladay is able to approach 10 receiving touchdowns. He had 11 touchdowns in 2019 after scoring five in 2018. His size gives him the ability to not only score in the red zone, but also on big plays down the field. He is the master of the contested catch, which will give him more opportunities in the short areas of the field near the end zone.

Eight receivers managed double-digit touchdowns last year, while just three defensive tackles managed more than 10 sacks. It is simply easier for a receiver to reach those numbers than defensive tackles in the modern NFL.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Last season, Leonard Williams posted 11.5 career sacks in his first full season with the Giants – it was the first time in his career he reached double-digits in sacks. Prior to that, his career-high was seven with the 2016 Jets. Williams is capable of duplicating his 2020 success, but he doesn't have an established track record and the team lost free agents Dalvin Tomlinson (who helped create opportunities for Williams) and Kyler Fackrell (tied for second on the team in sacks). There are some questions as to whether a consistent second pass rusher will emerge from players returning from injury (Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines) and additions (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Azeez Ojulari) and whether the defensive front will spread the wealth a bit more. Although Kenny Golladay has only posted double-digit touchdowns once in his career, his targets won't fluctuate that much and he has a great track record of making contested catches (regardless of who is throwing him the ball).

Matt Citak: Fiction – Williams is coming off a stellar year, picking up a career-high 11.5 sacks in his first full season with the Giants. More importantly, he had a career-best 62 combined sacks, hits and hurries, seven more than his previous best. The additions of Azeez Ojulari, Elerson Smith and Ifeadi Odenigbo, along with the returns of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, on the edge should help take some of the attention from opposing offensive lines off of Williams, and another dominant season is certainly within reach for the 27-year-old defensive lineman.

However, based on the strengths of both Kenny Golladay and Daniel Jones, you can expect big things out of the duo this season. The 6-foot-4 receiver thrives on the deep ball, racking up the fourth-most deep receiving yards among all wide receivers over the last three seasons, despite missing 11 games in 2020. Since 2018, Golladay also has the second-highest contested catch rate (63 percent) of any WR in the league with at least 50 targets, trailing only New Orleans WR Michael Thomas (64 percent). As we have seen over the last two seasons, Jones is not only not afraid to throw the deep ball, but he has also found a lot of success when throwing the ball down field. Golladay led the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns in 2019, and it would not surprise if he finished close to that number again this season.

Daniel Jones will have more rushing touchdowns than Dexter Lawrence has sacks.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Between quarterback sneaks, read-option plays and quarterback scrambles, Jones should manage as many as five rushing touchdowns. In each of Dak Prescott's first three years playing for Jason Garrett, he had six rushing touchdowns. Dexter Lawrence managed four sacks after only 2.5 as a rookie. He should take a bounce to five or maybe six, which makes this a very difficult question. The answer might very well depend on which player plays more games. Let's go with Daniel Jones, who should once again be a big part of the running game this season. Lawrence has yet to prove he is an elite pass rusher.

Lance Medow: Fiction - In 2020, Daniel Jones had one rushing touchdown and Dexter Lawrence finished tied for second on the team with four sacks. In comparison, Jones had two in 2019 and Lawrence notched 2.5, respectively. Keep in mind, Jones' lone rushing touchdown came as a result of a 34-yard run. That's not to say it can't happen again. But given his injury history and the return of Saquon Barkley, Jones likely won't have as many opportunities for rushing scores and the Giants won't want to expose him to additional hits (he's missed at least two games due to injury in each of his first two seasons). Lawrence's sack total could be impacted by the addition of several players up front; but even if it that stat dips slightly, he'll finish with more sacks than Jones' rushing touchdowns.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Jones' rushing ability added a new element to the Giants' offense in 2020. In the first 11 games of the season before he suffered an ankle injury, the young QB rushed for 384 yards on just 49 rush attempts, good for an average of 7.8 yards per carry. However, he only found the end zone once, and this was with Saquon Barkley missing almost the entire season. With Barkley set to return and Devontae Booker now in the fold, the two running backs should account for most of the team's rushing scores this season.

As for Lawrence, the young defensive tackle saw his sack numbers jump from 2.5 as a rookie to 4.0 last season. His success went beyond those numbers though. According to PFF, Lawrence's pass rushing grade went from 64.5 as a rookie to 73.2 last season, while his overall defensive grade increased by 3.5 points as well. The 23-year-old put up better numbers last year in just about every category compared to his rookie season, and with all of the updated pieces in the defense at Patrick Graham's disposal, Lawrence's sack numbers will increase again in Year 3.

View photos of the Giants' roster as it currently stands.

Giants tight ends will have more catches than Blake Martinez has total tackles.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - You can write Martinez down for at least 140 tackles every season. Even if Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph overperform expectations and combine for 120 catches, the Giants would need at least another 20 combined from their other tight ends to top Martinez – this is very implausible. With so many weapons on offense, the tight ends will not receive so many targets. Martinez is the easy choice here.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Last season, Blake Martinez collected a team-high 151 tackles, the fourth straight year he's piled up at least 144. Martinez has been extremely consistent over the course of his career, so it's a safe bet to figure he'll be within that range once again in 2021. The tight end group (Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo) accounted for 86 catches in 2020 and the Giants have added Kyle Rudolph in free agency. Although Rudolph will serve as an additional offensive threat, he's also going to take away targets and production from Smith and Toilolo, assuming four tight ends make the roster. While Engram can rack up about 65 receptions and don't be surprised if Rudolph gets about 45, that still leaves the tight ends nearly 40 catches shy of Martinez's total tackles and one or two other tight ends won't make up the difference.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The Giants' tight ends should put up solid numbers this season. Evan Engram is coming off a 63-reception campaign, one shy of his career-high set in 2017. He also played in all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. In addition, Kyle Rudolph should help boost the TE room, as the 10-year veteran has recorded 453 receptions over his career. But the offense now has a lot of mouths to feed between Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, and the tight ends, not to mention Barkley's return.

Over the last four seasons, Martinez has been one of the most consistent players in the entire NFL. He has started every single game since 2017 and has registered more tackles than any other player over that stretch while averaging 148.5 tackles a season. Assuming Martinez is able to stay healthy, it would take career-years from Engram, Rudolph, and the rest of the tight end room to top the linebacker's likely tackle production.

The Giants will have more interceptions than rushing touchdowns.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - The Giants managed 11 interceptions last season but had 13 rushing touchdowns. With the return of Saquon Barkley and the continued rushing production of Daniel Jones, expect that number to exceed 15. The defense won't manage that many interceptions, especially if they choose to play more man-to-man.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Last season, the Giants finished with 13 rushing touchdowns and 11 interceptions and you could see a very similar result this year. Saquon Barkley's return is a promising boost to the run game and a threat for double-digit touchdowns, so it's not a stretch to say he alone can match the 10 touchdowns four running backs (Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, Devonta Freeman, Dion Lewis) accounted for in 2020. On top of that, you figure Daniel Jones and the receivers and tight ends will score on the ground a few times. The Giants are returning players, who recorded ten of their 11 interceptions last season plus they've added Adoree' Jackson in free agency. However, Jackson only has two career interceptions and hasn't had any in each of the last three seasons.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The Giants secondary is pretty stacked heading into training camp. James Bradberry was one of the top shutdown corners last year, while the additions of Adoree' Jackson and Aaron Robinson could give the Giants one of the top CB groups in the NFL. Add in Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and Xavier McKinney at safety and it is no wonder PFF recently named Big Blue’s secondary as one of the top units in the league. However, interceptions are not necessarily the group's strong suit, as their 11 picks last season ranked 18th. Even if that number were to increase by a few, it will fall just short of the rushing touchdowns.

As touched on above, Saquon Barkley's return to the field could be the most significant addition to the Giants' offense this season compared to 2020. We all remember just how special his rookie season was when he played all 16 games and tallied just over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Even after missing three games in 2019, Barkley still finished with six rushing touchdowns. Add in a few scores from Devontae Booker and Daniel Jones, not to mention Kadarius Toney's rushing ability (161 yards and a touchdown on just 19 carries for Florida last season) and the offense could be special in 2021, which makes it tough to see the number of interceptions the defense records topping the number of rushing touchdowns.

With training camp here, view photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.

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