2012 Team Outlook: New York Giants
WR Victor Cruz, CHI - Stud (low risk)
The biggest fantasy surprise of 2011 was Victor Cruz (feel free to nod). An undrafted free agent, Cruz came out of nowhere to finish third in the NFL in receiving yards(1,536), while ranking among the top 10 in receptions (82) and TD receptions (9). The noted salsa dancer proved to have all the skills needed to make big plays, racking up five scores of at least 68 yards, and he became one of Eli Manning's most trusted weapons. While he won't be taking teams by surprise this year - you can expect a slight dip in his production - Cruz can still be considered a top fantasy wide out as long as Eli is passing him the ball. Hakeem Nicks remains the top play in New York, but only just ahead of Cruz, who should be among the first dozen pass catchers picked.
WR Rueben Randle, CHI - Bye Week Fill-in
The Giants had a first round grade on Randle in the 2012 draft, so the fact that they were able to draft him with the last pick of the 2nd round was a huge bonus for them. When Nicks went down, it gave the Giants more time to see what they have in the LSU burner during practice and Randle didn't fail to impress. With the departure of Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham via free agency plus the Nicks injury, Randle likely battles Dominik Hixon and Jerrel Jernigan throughout training camp for the third receiver job - or for the starting spot if Nicks doesn't make it back in time to start the season. Dynasty owners should take notice, though it could take multiple seasons before he cracks the starting lineup.
UPDATE (8-11): One preseason game, one touchdown catch for Randle, a five-yard grab. He has looked good in training camp and in the first pre-season game, but like most rookies inconsistency in all aspects remains. Randle has big upside, but 2012 might be a little early to see all of his potential. Unless there are long-term injuries ahead of him, he is better suited for dynasty leagues.
WR Domenik Hixon, --- - Low Potential
Hixon has played in only two games over the past two season due to multiple ACL tears - and yet the gutsy pass catcher remains in the mix for the vacated WR3 spot. With Hakeem Nicks injured, Hixon or rookie Rueben Randle could find themselves in the starting lineup for the opener. Regardless, Hixon's value is minimal even if he wins the third receiver job. Eventually, Randle will (or should) pass him.
WR Jerrel Jernigan, --- - Low Potential
Jernigan will compete for the kick and punt as well as the third receiver spot. With Nicks expected to miss most (if not all) of training camp, look for Jernigan to get a longer look. He is in a similar boat as Rueben Randle and Domenik Hixon; follow his progress this summer and see. At this point he's not worth drafting
UPDATE (8-11): Despite showing some flashes so far in camp, still no indication as to the breadth of Jernigan's role. Realistically he's behind the starters and Randle, hence why the low potential label remains.
WR Hakeem Nicks, --- - Stud (low risk)
Nicks is a stud receiver and would have gone into the season as a top-5 option if not a for a broken foot suffered during OTAs. He has vowed to be ready for the start of the season, but that remains to be seen. Good news is he's already walking on his own and without a limp. Considering he has a history of healing fast, there is reason for optimism. Some fantasy owners may run to draft Victor Cruz instead, but unless Nicks suffers a setback, he remains the Giants receiver to own (though both rank high). Tracking his rehab is a must for interested owners, as is Nicks' ADP. Should it steadily fall leading up to drafts, get ready to bounce assuming he suffers no setbacks.
Update (8-11) Nicks is on target to be ready for opening day after breaking his foot in OTAs, according to the New York Daily News. Keep following his rehab, but if he is ready for opening night, Nicks should be drafted as a top 10 wide receiver.
TE Martellus Bennett, GB - Bye Week Fill-in
One of the 'big' Giants off season moves was to bring in Martellus Bennett, the underachieving former 2nd round pick of the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants are hoping that the main reason for Bennett underachieving was due to the fact that he played behind Jason Witten. With New York's primary 2011 options out with injury or elsewhere, Bennett will get every chance to be the starter. Regardless, his fantasy status is that of a backup or bye week fill in.
UPDATE (8-11): Despite a reported a slow start to camp, Bennett looked good in the Giants first pre-season game. That's a nice trend After seeing what Manning was able to do with Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard, don't be surprised if Bennett becomes a relevant TE as well. He has more talent than the last two guys, so there is definitely some upside there.