With the start of the regular season nearly three weeks away, let’s take a look at the New York Giants players and how they could make an impact on your fantasy roster.
Eli Manning: Manning would be the clear number one Giant off of the draft board first. He had a breakout year on the field which left to a breakout fantasy year as well. Manning had been on average a number two fantasy quarterback. Someone you would use in case of injury or bye weeks. Last season he finished sixth in fantasy points among QB’s in 2011. Even though Manning amassed 273 points last year, he only scored 14 points or fewer in 6 out of the 16 games played. He shattered his career high for passing yards in a season and flirted with 5,000 yards. He did however have a stretch of seven games where he turned the ball over as many times as he threw for TDs. The Giants have gone from a ground and pound team and transformed themselves in a pass heavy, high risk offense. Manning threw more 20-plus yards attempts than anyone else in the league. Nine of those attempts went for scores. It seems that Manning is coming around and is in his prime. The Giants have a highly intelligent quarterback and have an outstanding receiving corp. Manning should be considered from here on out, as a fantasy starter.
Victor Cruz: Can he do it again? In 2011, Crux went from being just an undrafted receiver out of UMass to an elite Fantasy str. But that question looms over everyone’s head. Can he actually do this again? Cruz finished last year ranked number 4 out of all the wide receivers and amassed 198 fantasy points. The Giants felt safe letting Mario Manningham leave via free agency because of Cruz’s explosive season. Cruz caught only 16 passes in a two WR set. That number should go up but should also be a cause for concern. Cruz will have to step up and become the number two WR on this team, but last year he caught 80% of his passes from the slot receiver position. He was lined up across the nickel back defender which is usually played by the opposing defenses third corner or a safety. This season he will be under a watchful eye from all the head coaches around the league. It is safe to say that no, he will not put up the same numbers. However, if young receivers such as Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden or Jerrel Jernigan emerge as a threat, Cruz could move back to his natural slot receiver position and put up big numbers again. Cruz’s role seems destined to expand, and it is so tempting to jump on him and expect a repeat. Eli Manning loves to throw the deep ball and Cruz is the deep threat on the Giants.
Hakeem Nicks: It looks as if Hakeem Nicks will be ready for week one of the regular season. Nicks is not the fastest WR on the field, but he runs well for his 6-foot-1 size. He is one of the best WRs when it comes to open field catches and he is a load to bring down. Nicks has size 4XL gloves for his massive hands and has elite ball handling skills, which makes him a huge redzone target. While defenses paid more attention to Victor Crux during the playoffs, Nicks quietly had one of the better playoff runs and ended up with 28 catches for 444 yards and 4 TDs. With more attention being focused on Cruz in 2012, Nicks may see a rise in production. The only problem would be the injuries. Nicks is now one of those players we call injury prone. He broke a bone in his foot during minicamp simply running rout. He will be ready for week one, but move forward with caution if you draft him as a number one receiver.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Ahmad Bradshaw saw his production drop from 2010 to 2011, but made up with it by scoring 11 TDs from scrimmage. He went from totaling 1,549 total yards to just 926. Bradshaw only rushed for 659 yards all of last season. So what happened that caused this much of a drop in production? He has dealt with a continuous foot problem throughout his NFL career. He missed four games with a stress fracture. But Bradshaw’s problems may stem from somewhere else. The Giants offensive line struggled mightily last season as a unit. They went from being an average unit to dead last in the league in rushing yards and yards per carry. With Brandon Jacobs leaving town and the Giants looking for a viable number two option, Bradshaw will see some added production. David Wilson was drafted to someday take the reins from Bradshaw and only time will tell when that will happen. It looks as if Bradshaw has some time before that happens. The only things holding Bradshaw back from being an elite back in this league are his foot problems and his blocking ability.
Giants Defense/ Special Teams: It’s easy to overlook how shaky the Giants defense looked last season after their Super Bowl run. Jason Pierre-Paul was phenomenal in every aspect of the game and could have easily been the defensive player of the year. However, JPP was the only relevant everyday player on this Giants defensive unit. The Giants totaled 48 sacks last season, but the pass coverage was dreadful, allowing 255.1 yards per game. The loss of Terrell Thomas to an ACL injury last season hurt the team, but they still had former first round pick Aaron Ross to step into an everyday role. With Thomas sidelined with an aggravated injury in his leg and no Ross to step in, this pass defense just got a little more dreadful. Unless last year’s first round pick Prince Amukamara can step up big, look for opposing teams to drop back and pass often. The defensive line last season was inconsistent and often injured. The leader of this group Justin Tuck was not fully healthy until the playoff run. The Giants success formula is a healthy rotation of the front four. This group finished 22 when it came to fantasy points last season. It would be tough to envision them as a top ten group come this season.
Martellus Bennett: If Martellus Bennett can put it together he has star potential. He has been teasing the cowboys for the past four seasons. During his four years as a Cowboy, Bennett had too many mental mistakes and dropped many balls. He was brought in on running plays because of his massive size. He has sat behind Jason Witten, arguably a top five fantasy tight end, for his career and has learned a great deal from him. With that, keep in mind that Eli Manning loves his tight ends. The tight end is his security blanket and not one person predicted the type of season Jake Ballard was going to have. Bennett has better ball handling skills and has better speed than Ballard. With Travis Beckum nursing a torn ACL, Bennett will get all of the reps with the first team offense. Bennett is only 25, and as good speed for how big he is. Manning will give him a chance and hopefully he will pan out. If anything Manning takes him in and retools his thinking and turns him into a star. Manning has the ability to make everyone around him better, and with the potential Bennett has, it would be hard for Manning to fail him.
About the Author
Written by Matthew Stapleton
Ridgewood, New Jersey