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Darren Waller retirement announcement expected soon

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Mon, 03 Jun 2024, 9:27 AM EDT
Darren Waller Headshot

ESPN's Jordan Ranaan reports that Giants TE Darren Waller is expected to announce next week whether he'll play this season -- and that "people in and around the team expect that he's going to retire." The team has a two-day mandatory minicamp starting on June 11. Waller's expected to deliver his decision ahead of that.

What They're Saying

Waller said Friday on Instagram that his decision would be coming soon. Ranaan had previously said that the team is "operating as if Darren Waller will retire."

2024 Fantasy Football Impact

Despite missing five games last season, Waller finished third on the team in targets and trailed WR Darius Slayton's (17-game) lead by just five. Waller ranked ninth among TEs in target share (adjusted for games missed).

Rookie WR Malik Nabers figures to take over the team target lead right away, but losing Waller would leave about 20% target share up for grabs.

Third-year TE Daniel Bellinger would be first up to replace Waller in the starting lineup, with fourth-round rookie Theo Johnson competing for time as well.

If you're drafting in best ball formats right now, we'd recommend keeping Waller out of your plans.

Dynasty Impact

Theo Johnson looks like the better long-term bet over Daniel Bellinger, with a high athletic ceiling. Johnson converted from WR at Penn State and delivered a 9.99 Relative Athletic Score (out of 10.00) in athletic testing at the Scouting Combine. His college production lagged, however. Johnson didn't exceed 20 catches until his senior season, when he posted career highs of 34 receptions, 341 yards and 7 TDs. He averaged 12.2 yards per catch for his college career.

Despite the disappointing production, Johnson's physical ability presents upside worth chasing -- at a reasonable price.

That said, Bellinger would almost certainly be cheaper to acquire. He has a decent 55 catches through two NFL seasons after also arriving in Round 4. Bellinger produced at a rate similar to Johnson over four years at San Diego State:

  • Bellinger career: 68 receptions, 771 yards, 11.3 yards per catch, 5 TDs
  • Johnson career: 77, 938, 12.2, 12

Other Winners & Losers

Waller's target share isn't likely to transfer in whole to the remaining TEs. That makes WR Wan'Dale Robinson a potential low-level winner. The slot leader looks like a top candidate for some middle-of-the-field work that would go to Waller.

We're not projecting any serious impact on other Giants, including QB Daniel Jones.

Rankings Movement

We've knocked Waller well down our 2024 tight end rankings on this report. (We'll remove him completely once the decision becomes official.) Bellinger sits ahead of Johnson as the better 2024 bet for targets. Neither looks exciting for fantasy.

Projected ADP Movement

Waller had already been going at the end of drafts in anticipation of his retirement. Of course, if he surprises everyone and announces that he's going to play on, then his ADP would shoot up.

If Waller does make his retirement official, then Johnson and Bellinger will climb. Johnson has thus far sat slightly ahead. We're guessing that would continue, at least until/unless Bellinger gets officially named the starter.

That scenario would make Bellinger a modest value.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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