Do the Giants have a dark horse 1,000-yard receiver in their lineup?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton (86) rushes in the first half against the Washington Football Team at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in East Rutherford. Nyg Vs Was

The New York Giants added a dynamic receiving weapon to their offense this offseason, acquiring TE Darren Waller via trade from the Las Vegas Raiders. Waller, a two-time 1,000-yard receiver, is looking to top the illustrious threshold once again in 2023. But aside from Waller, Big Blue may have another dark horse 1,000-yard receiver in their lineup.

WR Darius Slayton is entering his fifth season in the NFL with more confidence than ever before. After working diligently to improve his game this offseason, Slayton seems primed for a breakout campaign that could propel him to set a new career-high in receiving yards.

Could Slayton surpass 1,000 receiving yards?

Slayton finished the 2022 season as the Giants’ leading receiver with 724 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 46 receptions. After being buried on the depth chart at the beginning of the season, Slayton earned his way back into the starting lineup and ascended into the role of New York’s No. 1 receiver.

While he did not miss any games in 2022, Slayton was held back by nagging injuries. He was completely absent from the lineup for the first three weeks of the season as a backup on the depth chart, but eventually found his way back with the starters by Week 6.

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Removing those first three absent weeks from Slayton’s stat line, his yards per game increase from 45.3 y/g to 55.69 y/g. Spread across a full 17-game season, 55.69 y/g had Slayton on track for 946 receiving yards. If he stays healthy and maintains his role as Big Blue’s primary wide receiver in the lineup this season, Slayton could push upward toward that 1,000-receiving-yard benchmark.

A big flaw in Slayton’s game throughout his career has been his inconsistent hands. Slayton has been known to drop passes in crucial moments. In 2022, Slayton dropped seven passes, a 9.9% drop rate. After working hard to become a “ball-stopper” this offseason, Slayton’s hands are expected to be drastically improved.

Slayton’s impact on the Giants’ offense

With Waller now taking over as the primary receiving option in New York’s offense, Slayton will have more favorable matchups than ever before. He should still be able to maintain a healthy target share, however, as the Giants’ primary wide receiver on the depth chart.

Slayton will be the team’s secondary receiving option but primary wide receiver in 2023. If he can replicate his pace from last season, Slayton could be a dark horse candidate to reach the 1,000-yard threshold.