5 New York Giants Ready To Break Out or Bounce Back in 2014 Fantasy Football Leagues
5 Great Value Giants
Cognitive development studies have shown that innovative brain activity peaks in the late 30s, and then slowly trails off. In the hyper-competitive NFL where innovation is at premium, you don't see many coordinators in their 60s.
Like we saw with the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers in 2013, when fresh offensive minds replace entrenched regimes, skill players often benefit from coaches with a new perspective. Younger coordinators can offer struggling players a new technique or mental approach that can help to turnaround their careers. These coordinators also craft personnel packages, configure formations and call plays to better leverage individual skill sets and matchup advantages that older coaches either do not perceive or appreciate.
In San Diego, the system of 41-year-old quarterback whisperer, Mike McCoy, replaced that of 61-year-old Norv Turner. Turner has built a reputation for offensive excellence over his 30-plus year career. However, that reputation was predominantly built while calling plays for Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Jay Novacekin in Dallas and Phillip Rivers, LaDanian Tomlinson Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates in San Diego. When coaching lesser talent in Oakland and Washington, DC, the offensive wizard had seemingly lost his wand.
Norv Turner's last year with the Chargers was a fantasy graveyard as each of the team's key offensive players disappointed his fantasy owners. Phillip Rivers finished 2012 as the 20th ranked fantasy quarterback. The uber-hyped Ryan Mathews was banged up all season and finished as the 30th ranked fantasy running back. Clearly missing Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd emerged as the Chargers' No. 1 receiving option, but barely cracked the top 40 fantasy wide receivers. Even NFL Hall of Famer Antonio Gates finished outside the top 12 fantasy tight ends.
When the 41-year-old Mike McCoy arrived in San Diego, everything changed. During his time with the Denver Broncos, he was regarding as an innovative offensive mind and quarterback whisperer. Under McCoy's guidance, Kyle Orton out-produced his talent level in 2009 and 2010, incredibly rising to fourth in the NFL in passing yards per game. In 2011, as Broncos' offensive coordinator, McCoy scrapped Denver's entire offense to accentuate Tim Tebow's strengths as a runner while concealing his flaws as a thrower. The Tebow experiment resulted in a Broncos playoff run and is regarded as the greatest in-season tactical adjustments by an offensive coordinator in recent memory.
As the Chargers head coach, Mike McCoy helped Phillip Rivers dramatically turn around his career. He implemented creative screen passes and short timing patterns, which are key features of the West Coast offense. These tactics proved to be a revelation for Rivers who finished 2013 as the 4th ranked fantasy quarterback. Taken in rounds 14-16 of most fantasy drafts, Rivers provided greater return on investment for his fantasy owners than any quarterback in the league. Ryan Mathews also significantly out-performed his average draft position (ADP). While Rivers and Mathews rejuvenated their careers under McCoy, wide receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Ladarius Green experienced breakout seasons and project to be top 10 fantasy players at their respective positions in the near future.
Though the New York Giants are still led by 67-year-old Tom Coughlin, they are conducting an offensive rebuild that actually parallels the San Diego Chargers of 2013. 36-year-old Ben McAdoo was recently hired away from the Green Bay Packers to replace 62-year-old Kevin Gilbride as offensive coordinator. He has promised to bring an up-tempo, attack-style scheme to a deliberate, ineffective Giants offense.
During his quick rise through the NFL coaching hierarchy, McAdoo was exposed to numerous offensive systems and philosophies. He is known for a diligent worth ethic, which was needed in 2013 as the Packers, as a team, posted 4,538 passing yards and a 91.7 quarterback rating despite starting four different quarterbacks during the season. McAdoo's resume may not be as impressive as McCoy's, but he is regarded as a forward-thinking offensive mind, and at 36 years old, his creativity is currently peaking.
Interestingly, the fantasy production from Giants players this past season was eerily similar to the 2012 San Diego Chargers. Quarterback Eli Manning bottomed out as the 20th ranked quarterback. Their running backs, when healthy, were only productive in spots. Even the steady Victor Cruz could not crack the top 25 wide receivers.
It's a given that it cannot get any worse, but how good could New York's offense be in 2014? The Giants have the required ability on the field, and the necessary creativity on the sideline, to exceed all expectations. Here are five New York Giants fantasy players that should out-produce their ADPs this coming season.
Andre Brown/Michael Cox - Running Back
David Wilson's career has been at a crossroads since he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and recently underwent neck surgery. With Wilson's future in doubt, Andre Brown projects to be the Giants' bell cow running back in 2014. Brown bounced back well from a preseason broken leg in 2013 displaying lateral quickness and soft hands while rarely going down on first contact. However, Brown is a pending free agent. He is reportedly likely to re-sign with the Giants, but if he signs with another team, second year running back Michael Cox has the size, speed and agility to become the team's primary back on both running and passing downs.
Victor Cruz - Wide Receiver
Victor Cruz is not as good as his epic 1,500+ yard second season, and he's not as bad as his sub-1,000 yard 2013 season. He is definitely one of the NFL's premiere possession receivers, and a valuable PPR-league asset. Look for him to bounce back in 2014 and secure 80+ catches while approaching double-digit touchdowns.
Adrien Robinson - Tight End
Before the Giants acquired Brandon Myers, the 6-foot 5, 265 pound Adrien Robinson reportedly had an outside shot at winning their starting tight end job.
Enter Ben McAdoo who was the Packers' tight ends coach from 2006-11 and helped Jermichael Finley become one of the league's premiere pass catching tight end. Robinson ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at his Pro Day before heading into the 2012 draft. Only a handful of NFL tight ends can match his speed, size and athleticism, and under McAdoo's tutelage, he is a legitimate 2014 breakout candidate.
Eli Manning - Quarterback
Eli Manning averaged over 4,500 passing yards and 30 touchdowns in 2010 and 2011. These numbers would make him a top eight fantasy quarterback in any season. As the Giants' offensive scheme and play calling have gone stale over the last two years, his fantasy production has suffered despite being injury-free.
One lingering concern is the potential departure of Hakeem Nicks. Per Rich Hribar, Manning produced .42 fantasy points per attempt when throwing to Rueben Randle and .39 when throwing to Victor Cruz, but scored a paltry .22 fantasy points per attempt when throwing to Hakeem Nicks in 2013. These numbers indicate that Manning's troubles were actually exacerbated by poor wide receiver play. With fantasy black hole Nicks likely out of the picture and playmaker Randle moved into the starting lineup next season, Manning will have enough firepower from his supporting cast to post a prolific fantasy season in 2014.
Rueben Randle - Wide Receiver
Rueben Randle was a popular sleeper heading into last season. He periodically teased fantasy owners by securing a handful of well-contested touchdown receptions that required uncommon strength and body control at the catch point. Though his measurables and playmaking ability are compared to Dez Bryant and Pierre Garçon, the Giants stubbornly started Nicks ahead of Randle throughout the 2013 season. His inconsistent playing time lead to inconsistent fantasy production.