New York Giants: 2015 Outlook

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New York Giants

By Rob Warner, Friday, September 12, 2014

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.

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.

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).

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).

The Giants found their Hakeem Nicks replacement with the 12th overall pick of the 2014 draft. Beckham (5-foot-11 and 198 pounds) dominated at the combine, posting an unofficial forty time of 4.31 and a 10-yard split of 1.50 seconds. The receiver has strong hands and is explosive after the catch. His pro-ready route-running and separation skills should help him hit the ground running in his rookie season. The LSU alum hauled in 143 passes during his three collegiate seasons, gaining 2,340 yards (16.4 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. He also has special teams value as evidenced by his two punt return scores. His ADP has him selected around WR53 (126.54). Beckham has the most value in dynasty formats, but could potentially have an excellent rookie campaign if the Giants give him starter snaps.

UPDATE: A hamstring injury has kept him out of the first three preseason games. He's reportedly close to 100% and should debut for the 4th preseason game against the Jets.

Last season, the UMass alum (famous for his end zone tango) saw a dip in production as he only reached the end zone four times in 2013 after compiling 19 scores over the previous two seasons. The 27-year-old receiver is entering the second year of a $46 million contract that runs through 2018. Cruz missed two games last season with a knee injury, but has declared himself 100-percent for OTAs. He is expected to fill a similar role as Randall Cobb in Ben McAdoo's offense (formerly with Packers since 2006), which should make him an elite fantasy performer (especially in PPR leagues). Over the past three seasons, Cruz is averaging 80 catches for 1,208 yards (78 YPG) and 15 YPC. He sits on the fringe of WR1 status based on ADP data (WR14, 38.37). Cruz finished last season as the 29th-best fantasy WR (fourth in 2011 & 13th in 2012). Some improvements from his quarterback and the team's offensive line would give him more time to get downfield and make plays. He should have no problems meeting WR2 expectations.

Editor's note: Cruz hasn't been himself in a long time. His draft position is still very kind considering his poor stats, but that speaks to his immense talent and potential. He is a very risky WR2 with an offense that has done him no favors as of late.

The G-Men are showing an infatuation with LSU wideouts as they selected Odell Beckham this year after nabbing fellow LSU alum Reuben Randle in the second round of the 2012 draft. Randle's second season in New York was a bit of a roller coaster ride: he showed flashes of his upside by posting four games of double digit fantasy points, but was a non-factor late in the season (failed to reach the end zone after Week 11 and didn't crack 40 yards over the final five weeks of the season). He did nearly double his production from his rookie season (19 catches for 298 yards and three touchdowns) by hauling in 41 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. That improvement is promising, but this offense wasn't productive enough to make him a dependable fantasy option. This season is where he may get over the hump. Randle has ideal size (6-foot-2, 208 lbs.) with a skill set to approach double digit touchdowns in the near future (had all six of his TDs last season between Weeks 5 and 11). The addition of Beckham Jr. is concerning, but Randle enters his third season with breakout potential. His upside makes him a solid value based on his current ADP of 105.86 or WR43.

Josh Brown signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract to return after a solid first year with the Giants. In 2013, he converted 88-percent of his field goals (averaging just 18 PPG) and Brown's 26 attempts ranked 26th in the league. In 2012, the Giants scored the sixth-most points in the league (27 PPG). Provided Manning has a bounce-back season and rookie Beckham Jr. can take some pressure off of Victor Cruz , Brown should see a significant uptick in scoring chances. The 35-year-old kicker enters his 12th NFL season (previously kicked for Seattle, St Louis and Cincinnati) and is best drafted as a waiver waire addition during your regular kicker's bye.

The Giants' defense allowed 24 points per game last season.They were solid against the pass (10th in the NFL) and mediocre against the run (14th). This DST finished 16th in fantasy scoring with the unit posting 34 sacks, 17 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries and three touchdowns. Jason Pierre-Paul says he's back to 100-percent after a shoulder injury limited him to just two sacks over 11 games. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract and hopes to return to his 2011 form (16.5 sacks) after two mediocre seasons (just 8.5 sacks over the past two years). They are not expecting to have top LB Jon Beason back for Week 1 after he suffered a foot injury in June. The secondary receives a boost with the addition of former Broncos CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC will pair with Prince Amukamara to form a solid tandem. The G-Men have ranked among the bottom of the league in sacks over the past two seasons (averaging 33 sacks per season). Bringing their pass rush back to the upper echelon of the league (fourth in the league in 2011 with 48 sacks) will go a long way in making this defense relevant for fantasy purpose. The Giants are a backup DST with some potential to become a low DST1 if their pass rush gets back on track.