2014 Team Outlook: New York Giants
QB Eli Manning, NYG - Quality Backup
Peyton's little brother posted the worst season of his 10-year career in 2013, as he finished with 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Eli completed 58-percent of passes for 3,818 yards (238 YPG) and only topped 20 fantasy points in one game (Week 1). He hasn't missed a game over the past nine seasons, but turned 33 in January and is coming off ankle surgery in April (recovery bears watching in training camp). The Giants' passing game has a new offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo (Packers' QB coach the past two seasons) who is apparently installing a quick-hitting passing game that could bode well for Manning, considering his lack of mobility behind one of the weaker offensive lines in the NFL (ranked 28th overall by Pro Football Focus and 31st in pass-blocking). Veteran WR Hakeem Nicks (now in Indy) will be replaced by rookie Odell Beckham Jr. (first-round pick from LSU) and the the G-Men's tight end situation is a major question mark with Adrien Robinson (no catches over his first two seasons) currently sitting atop the depth chart. Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan return and the free agent acquisition of RB Rashad Jennings (36 receptions in 2013) could also assist the younger Manning's return to fantasy relevance. The aging signal-caller is best drafted as a backup since he's likely to rebound with a solid group of receiving options at his disposal.
Editor's note: At his best, Manning can be a capable fantasy backup on your roster or even sneak into the starting lineup when the matchup is in his favor. Turnovers remain a primary concern.
UPDATE: The Giants offensive line has struggled this preseason and Eli has picked up where he left off last year which is not a good thing for his fantasy value. He has completed just 7-of-16 passes for 49 yards (3.1 YPA) and has been sacked three times. Playing in the NFC East should result in many shootouts but until Eli shows that he has acclimated to the newly implemented West Coast offense his fantasy value remains in limbo.
QB Ryan Nassib, JAX - Dynasty Only
The fourth-round pick in 2013 from the University of Syracuse will compete with Curtis Painter for the backup job. He struggled in three preseason games, completing just 37-percent of his passes (7-of-19). Nassib was the Giants' No. 3 quarterback during his rookie season and was inactive for all 16 regular-season games. Manning's contract runs out after the 2015 season, so Nassib is worth considering in very deep dynasty leagues if he shows improvement during his second NFL season.
RB Peyton Hillis, --- - Low Potential
Hillis averaged just 3.4 YPC last season on 73 carries and could be on the roster bubble. The 28-year-old is the RB4 on the Giants' depth chart. Hillis is a solid blocker with above-average receiving ability, but his lack of big-play potential limits his fantasy scoring and potential. He parlayed a monster 2010 season with Cleveland (270 carries for 1,177 yards, 61 catches for 477 yards and 13 total touchdowns) into a Madden cover, but has been largely invisible for the past three seasons (CLE, KC, NYG). Hillis' fantasy relevance as a handcuff is tied to David Wilson's recovery from neck surgery.
UPDATE: Hillis is battling an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for the first two preseason games. His roster spot could be in jeopardy.
RB Rashad Jennings, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
After three seasons in Jacksonville as MJD's handcuff, Jennings signed with the Raiders and posted career highs with 733 rushing yards (4.5 YPC) and six TDs on the ground. He also added 36 receptions for 292 yards. The 29-year-old signed a four-year, $10 million contract and is expected to the be the workhorse runner for the Giants. He's solid in pass-protection and has demonstrated reliable ball security during his four-year career, which should keep him in the starting role. Head coach Tom Coughlin has expressed faith in using Jennings on third downs, which should translate into RB2 numbers for fantasy owners. He is averaging a respectable 4.3 yards per carry for his career (387 carries) and is hearing his name called in Round 7 with an 80.65 ADP.
Editor's note: Jennings has never been the featured back and this is his big opportunity. The Giants are not likely to lean on him too hard and keep Andre Williams and David Wilson in the mix since Jennings has had his own injury issues in the past.
UPDATE: The threat of losing goal line touches to rookie Andre Williams is concerning as is running behind a struggling offensive line. Jennings flashed his breakaway speed on a 73 yard touchdown romp during the second preseason game but outside of that he just 52 rushing yards on 18 carries (2.9 YPC).
RB Andre Williams, --- - Deep-league Only
The Giants used a fourth-round pick to select the 2013 Doak Walker Award winner (best college running back) from Boston College. The Heisman finalist has good size (5-foot-11, 230 pounds), but minimal receiving ability (just 10 catches during his 44 college games). He set school records in carries (355) and rushing yards (2,177), while averaging 5.31 YPC and scoring 28 touchdowns during his collegiate career. Williams ran a serviceable 4.56-forty at the combine and will contribute mostly as a downhill runner with limited game-breaking ability. He could emerge as a goal-line back and is worth owning in dynasty leagues.
UPDATE: Williams has 102 yards on 22 carries (4.6 YPC) through three preseason games and is worth a late round flier based on reports that he should see a fair amount of goal line carries (possible Brandon Jacobs role).
RB David Wilson, --- - Not Draft Worthy
Neck surgery limited the 2012 first round pick from Virginia Tech to just five games last season. Though, Wilson showed flashes in his rookie season, finishing with 71 carries for 358 yards (impressive 5.0 yards per carry). The injury concerns, ball security issues and a crowded backfield all keep Wilson as nothing more than a late-round flier with a lot to prove. He is expected to play a change-of-pace role (behind Rashad Jennings) provided he gets medical clearance. He is being drafted in Round 14 of 12-team league drafts (157.25 ADP).
Editor's note: FFToolbox thought 2013 was going to be a breakout season for Wilson. it never came to pass. If the stars align with his health and workload, Wilson can be a productive backup behind Jennings.
UPDATE: A neck injury has forced his retirement. He can now be seen as an analyst on Pro Football Talk.