When examining the New York Giants’ 2019 roster — or at least how it currently sits — there are any number of players who could be considered the team’s x-factor.

After a year in which they struggled generating pressure, edge rusher Markus Golden tends to stand out. However, following the departure of safety Landon Collins, Jabrill Peppers is also a name to watch.

Offensively, quite a bit of pressure falls on the shoulders of quarterback Eli Manning, but that’s no different than any other year. There’s also running back Saquon Barkley, entering his second season and taking over as the team’s primary focal point.

However, in the eyes of those at Pro Football Focus, it’s actually wide receiver Sterling Shepard who stands out above the rest of the biggest potential x-factor, and their reasoning is sound.

Sterling Shepard will demand more attention in the Giants’ offense in 2019 after the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. Shepard dominated the intermediate range of the field a season ago, hauling in 19 receptions on throws targeted 10-19 yards past the line of scrimmage. All 19 of those receptions achieved a first down, and 14 of them went for well more than 15 yards. On those receptions, his 19.5 yards per catch ranked fifth among all NFL receivers.

Many wonder how the Giants intend to use both Shepard and veteran Golden Tate, who share very similar play styles, but neither receiver appears concerned. Both maintain that they’re capable of playing at whichever position the team wants, which bodes well for their production this season.

All of that being said, there’s little doubt that Shepard becomes one of the Giants’ most important players in the aftermath of Odell Beckham Jr.’s trade.