2008 Team Outlook: New York Giants
The New York Giants had a wild season last year ending with a victory in the Super Bowl over the 18-0 New England Patriots. Before the season started, no one would have predicted the Giants winning the Super Bowl; even as the playoffs were about to begin, no one was picking the wild card Giants for the Super Bowl, but they went into Tampa Bay, Dallas and freezing cold Green Bay and then finally ended a Cinderella season by upsetting the heavy favorite Patriots. The Giants play in what may be the toughest division in football, the NFC east, where last year 3 teams made it to the playoffs and the 4th (the Philadelphia Eagles) were 8-8 and just missed the playoffs. It will be very tough for the Giants to repeat their improbable run to the championship, but if they can continue to play well on the road (7-1 during the regular season and 3-0 during the playoffs) they will be right in the thick of things.
The New York Giants are definitely one of the NFL teams that will have many players worthy of being on anyone's fantasy team. The Giants' offense gained the 16th most yards per game last year (331.4) and scored the 14th most points per game last year (23.3), but where they really excelled was running the ball -- rushing for an average of 134 yards per game (4th in the league) and leading the NFL in sacks with 53 (an average of 3.3 per game). The Giants' running game is led by powerhouse Brandon Jacobs (1009 yards and 6 rushing and 2 receiving), who is backed up by the faster Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants' passing games has plenty of weapons for QB Eli Manning to throw to including Plaxico Burress (career high 12 TD) along with 2007 2nd round pick Steve Smith and 5th round pick Kevin Boss, who both came along strong in the Super Bowl run. All these players are guys you want to make an effort to get on your team. The Giants will be missing tight end Jeremy Shockey who was traded to the New Orleans Saints. New York was able to win the Super Bowl without him, so as long as they get help from some of the young players, they should have no problems without him.
QB Eli Manning, NYG - Solid/Safe Pick
Unfortunately for 2007 fantasy owners of Eli Manning, he waited till the playoffs to really show his best form. Over his last 3 seasons Eli Manning has put up basically the same numbers -- 3000+ passing yards, 23-24 TD passes -- while his interceptions have gone up each year to a career high of 20 last season. All that changed during the playoffs last year when he finished 854 yards passing, 6 TD passes against 1 interception over a 4 game span ending with the upset victory of the New England Patriots. If Eli Manning brings that confidence and that kind of play to the 2008 season, then he should be considered a top 15 QB. He is worthy of a look as a starting QB on your fantasy team.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND - Fantasy Handcuff
Bradshaw was a 7th round pick by the Giants in 2007 and he didn't come along till late in the season, when the Giants' running backs were decimated with injuries. He didn't get his first carry until week 12 and scored his only touchdown of the season in week 16 on an 88 yard run against the Buffalo Bills. In the playoffs they used him more often and he proved to be a very good change of pace to the pounding of Brandon Jacobs. With Jacobs suffering from a list of injuries last season, taking Bradshaw as his handcuff is a must.
Update August 1, 2008Bradshaw spent 30 days this summer in jail for a crime committed before joining the NFL and he won't be suspended. The Giants have started off training camp allowing Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward all to run with the first team, saying they will play whoever is the hottest runner. It's safe to assume Jacobs will be the primary runner, but Bradshaw has a great opportunity to be #2 and with Jacobs' history of being banged up, he could be a very good handcuff.
RB Brandon Jacobs, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
Jacobs' first season as a starter was a bit of a rollercoaster, having some very productive weeks only to be followed by sitting out for a few weeks with various injuries. When Jacobs was healthy he was highly productive, rushing for 1009 yards and 6 rushing (he also had 2 receiving TDs) touchdowns in only 11 games. The other issue Jacobs will deal with is the promising play of Ahmad Bradshaw at the end of last season and into the playoffs. If Bradshaw is able to keep that up, he will definitely cut into Jacobs' carries. Nonetheless, if Jacobs is healthy he will get a heavy dose of carries because he is a monster near the goal line. He will go anywhere from the 12th pick on.
Update August 1, 2008So far during the first week of training camp the Giants have given Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick a chance to run with the first team. Unless something drastic happens, expect Jacobs to get the job as primary runner in New York. He should be drafted somewhere in the mid-to-late 2nd round.
WR Plaxico Burress, --- - Stud (low risk)
Plax played the entire 2007 season with a combination of injuries (not being able to practice most weeks), yet he didn't miss a game and put up a career high in touchdowns with 12. He had 70 catches and 1025 yards to go along with his TDs. While he was able to make it through the entire season, he put up more then half his numbers in the first 6 weeks (30 catches for 507 yards and 8 touchdowns). The effects of his various injuries began to take a tole on him and he wasn't able to be as big a playmaker as he was at the start of the season. With a full off season to rest up and heal and Eli Manning passing the ball to him, Plax should have no problem being a top 12 wide receiver.
Update August 1, 2008After going through the entire 2007 season dealing with nagging injuries, Plax is dealing with them again. Luckily it has nothing to do with the injury from last season. He should be back to practice in the next few days, but make sure to pay attention to how he comes back from this injury. While he played well last season despite his nagging injuries, he slowed down at the end of the season. Pay attention to how is he dealing with injury, but if healthy he is a stud.
WR Steve Smith, --- - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The Giants were hoping that Steve Smith would be able to come in and be another weapon for Eli Manning last season, but he injured his shoulder in week 2 and didn't really play until week 15. A very good sign of possible things to come is that when the playoffs came around, Eli Manning showed great confidence in his rookie receiver and went to him during many key moments -- totaling 14 catches for 152 yards. Smith is not a speed burner who will make many big plays, but he has great hands and might be able to step into veteran Amani Toomer's shoes as Eli Manning's safety net. With all the weapons the Giants have, it will be hard for Smith to put up big numbers, but he might be worth a flyer in the late rounds.
Update August 1, 2008
Smith missed a few days of practice to due a slight groin injury. With Amani Toomer looking fine over the summer, look for Smith to be the #3 option in the passing game this season. He should also see a boost from the Jeremy Shockey deal, but not enough to be drafted before the late rounds (if at all).