Coming off their second Super Bowl Championship in five seasons, the New York Giants will have a slightly different look during the NFL 2012 season. Anything but a fan of the G-Men (who have been my Super Bowl kryptonite recently), today I'll discuss whether the Giants can help Fantasy owners win their Draft Championship. Always loaded with decent "team" players, but rarely a ton of Fantasy studs, the New York football Giants appear to be on a similar path heading into the 2012 National Football League season.
New York Giants Quarterback Fantasy Options
Even though I find both of the Giants' recent Championship victories to be fraught with fraudulence (a topic for another date and time), I have to give QB Eli Manning his due. Although he fell 67 yards short of becoming the fourth QB with 5,000 passing yards during NFL 2011, "Little Brother" was his usual middle of the pack QB1 self last year. Manning made the top ten QB fantasy scoring list in most standard scoring leagues for a third straight season.
Eli rebounded from a career high 25 interceptions in 2010 (to go along with a career high 31 TD passes) to toss 29 TD and just 16 picks during the 2011 season. That said, Manning owners probably weren't very happy with his 1-4 TD to INT ratio, or his mediocre 482 passing yards during the two fantasy playoff weekends. Manning has seven consecutive seasons of 16 game starts, so wait until the final round if you want to draft NYG backup QB David Carr.
Giants QB Analysis: If you are of a similar mindset to yours truly, then Manning is a prime candidate to be your starting quarterback. I like to lock up my two starting running backs and wide receivers, along with my every game TE, over the first five rounds of the draft. Being as he's consistent and steady for the most part, if Manning lasts until the sixth round, he is a quality pick. Eli will be a top ten fantasy QB in 2012 and could produce better than his older brother.
New York Giants Running Back Fantasy Options
One area where the G-Men will be sporting a new look this season is in the backfield. The two-headed RBBC monster is no more in New York as RB Brandon Jacobs has moved on to San Francisco. Whether this is a good move by all parties concerned, remains to be seen as RB Ahmad Bradshaw has been hampered by injuries throughout his five-year career. Bradshaw played in just 12 games last season, as his right foot injury was a constant problem. The now "primary back" had bone marrow transplanted from his hip into his foot following SB XLVI.
To replace Jacobs, the G-Men selected RB David Wilson with the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. This former Virginia Tech Hokies standout is blessed with amazing speed and had the ability to make defenders miss at the college level. While he needs some polishing to be a hit on the big NFL stage in New York, having veterans like Manning and Bradshaw around should make the maturation process a quick one for Wilson with the well-coached Giants.
Giants RB Analysis: Personally, I won't be dabbing in the Giants backfield on draft day and neither should you. That said, if you do take a chance on Bradshaw, you had better get Wilson to back him up – sooner rather than later. In fact, Wilson could end up as the better of the two backs. It's tough to trust foot injuries, especially when it comes to running backs, and buying damaged goods is never a good idea. Do yourself a favor and move along now.
New York Giants Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
New York will also have a slightly new look to their WR crew in 2012. After making the biggest play of his NFL career with a spectacular catch late in Super Bowl XLVI, WR Mario Manningham has taken his mediocre numbers to San Francisco where he joins Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree. Breakout seasons by WR Victor Cruz (1,536 YD - 9 TD) and WR Hakeem Nicks (1,192 YD - 7 TD) made Manningham expendable in the Meadowlands.
Rather than waiting to make a magical "third year" wide receiver run, Cruz busted out with an amazing sophomore season in 2011. Not much more than an after-thought in most drafts, Cruz romped for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Of that total, 1,017 yards came over the course of seven games - including a 164 YD one TD effort in Week 16.
Hakeem Nicks fractured a bone in his right foot during non-contact workouts back on May 24, 2012. This is just another in a long string of injuries for Nicks who has dealt with hamstring, shoulder and knee issues throughout his first three NFL seasons. All indications are pointing towards Nicks being "fine" when the G-Men battle the Cowboys in Week One.
With Nicks sidelined, Domenik Hixon and rookie Rueben Randle will see plenty of snaps in training camp as they vie for the WR3 role in New York. Slowed by two ACL tears, Hixon has played in just two games over the past two seasons. Expect Randle, a former LSU Tiger standout - who weighs in at 6' 3" and 210 pounds, to come out on top in that battle.
Giants WR Analysis: With Manning expected to post another season of career passing numbers, Cruz is a candidate to catch close to 100 balls in 2012. He should be respected as a top ten wide receiver on draft day. That said, defensive coordinators have had a full off-season to study the former U-Mass Minuteman and he better be ready for a ton of double coverage. If healthy, I see Nicks as a serviceable lower end WR2 and will be watching Randle in camp.
New York Giants Tight End Fantasy Options
In an offense that doesn't always favor the TE position (unlike the Mark Bavaro or Jeremy Shockey days in the past), the Giants will also have a new look at the tight end position in 2012. Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckham combined to catch 55 passes for 833 yards and five touchdowns last season. Due to injuries, the G-Men were down to Pascoe as their lone tight end by the time the second half of Super Bowl XLVI rolled around.
Ballard, who was surprisingly snatched off the waiver wire by the Patriots, is expected to miss the entire 2012 season as he recovers from microfracture and ACL surgery. Beckum, who is rehabbing a torn right ACL, is in the final year of his rookie contract and will likely begin the season on the PUP list. With Pascoe being a much better blocker than a pass receiver, the G-Men dipped into the free agent pool and signed TE Martellus Bennett.
Giants TE Analysis: After spending four seasons as the backup to TE Jason Witten in Dallas, Bennett will finally get an opportunity to be a "go-to" tight end in New York. Although he's ballooned to close to 300 pounds, I like the sleeper value that may come with Bennett as his 144 yards, over 14 games last season, was nothing to write home about.
New York Giants Fantasy Bottom Line: We're always a little leery about going back to players that are coming off a Super Bowl Championship season (due to the wear and tear that comes from the long grind), that's even further magnified when the run was of the four game variety - as it was with G-Men last season. My best advice is to make value picks with Manning and Cruz, while keeping an eye on Bradshaw, Wilson, Nicks, Randle and Bennett.