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ESPN Names This New York Giants Player as Biggest X-factor in 2022

ESPN's choice for the Giants' X-factor makes sense if this player can stay on the field more than he did in 2021.

The New York Giants are planning a more explosive offense that’s predicated on getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers and letting them do their thing.

But for that to happen, the Giants will need far better production from their receiving corps than the 1,646 receiving yards (on 138 receptions) and three touchdowns that Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, and Darius Slayton produced last season.

A big key to that group seeing increased production, according to ESPN, could be Toney, the second-year player who was named by Ben Linsey as the Giants’ biggest X-factor ahead of 2022:

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney has had an eventful first year-plus in the NFL, including being at the center of trade rumors earlier this offseason that have since died down. When he was on the field as a rookie last season, Toney looked like the dynamic playmaker the Giants drafted him in the first round to be. He was one of just 15 wide receivers in the league to average over two receiving yards per route run on at least 100 routes. The issue seems to be him staying on the field. Toney sat out OTAs following a minor arthroscopic surgery that he had on a knee this offseason.

Toney, chosen by the Giants in the first round with the 20th overall pick in the draft following their trade-down with the Bears, had an uneventful rookie campaign, logging 420 yards and zero touchdowns. Of his receiving yards, 189 came in a single game against the Cowboys in Week 5.

Otherwise, Toney, who dealt with injuries and COVID-19 as a rookie, hardly looked like the dynamic playmaker his skill set suggested the 2020 First-Team All-SEC and AP Second-Team All-American he could be.

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There were questions about his deployment in the offense—he caught four of five passes for 14 yards in his first three NFL games, one of which (Week 2) saw him not receive any targets.

That led to the caching staff trying to defend the decision to limit his reps by claiming that Toney was still in catch-up mode after having missed most of training camp due to COVID and an injury.

That “defense” by the coaching staff proved to be bogus, as the more Toney was targeted, the better he performed. Except for Week 15 against the Eagles, when he caught four of nine pass targets, Toney caught 55 percent or better of his targets.

This included the aforementioned 189-yard game against the Cowboys in which he hauled in 10 of 13 passes (76.9 percent); a 78-yard showing against the Saints in which he caught six of nine pass targets; and a 40-yard performance against the Bucs in which he caught seven of 12 passes (58.3 percent).

This production makes it easy to see why Toney is a natural choice to be the Giants’ X-factor this season. He is simply dynamic with the ball in his hands, and his versatility opens up several different options for offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and head coach Brian Daboll to deploy.

The second-year player must find a way to stay on the field, a challenge last year. The new offense figures to play to the strengths of Toney and the rest of the skill position makers with some designs to get guys open and into space where they can use their athleticism and burst to win their one-on-one matchups.

But it all means nothing if Toney can’t stay on the field.

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