Fantasy Football 32: New York Giants
You can open your eyes now. It’s over.
The New York Giants haven’t looked like that Super Bowl team for a while now, and 2013 was no exception. They turned the ball over at an alarming rate, en route to a 7-9 finish. There were so many Eli faces, Coughlin faces (especially the bright red ones) and sad faces from Giants fans everywhere last season, but it’s hard to believe that things can get any worse next season.
That’s right. Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions last season, the most in football. It was obviously a rough season for the two-time Super Bowl champion, who wasn’t even a top-20 fantasy quarterback. The 18 touchdown passes were the lowest since his rookie year, and the 27 picks were concerning as well, but according to ESPN, the BDR metric states that only three of those turnovers were due to a bad decision from Manning himself. So, with how bad he was, Manning did get a bit unlucky with wideouts running wrong routes and tipped passes.
But, of course, we care about the numbers, and with Manning, they are very, very ugly.
You obviously aren’t drafting Manning as anything more than a QB2, given how deep the position is, but the guy has made every single start since taking over for the Giants back in 2005. And while he may not be a top-five fantasy passer, Manning does have the pedigree of an elite fantasy option at times, and a change in offensive scheme can only help. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is very familiar with quarterbacks, serving as a coach for the Packers the last two seasons. The new West Coast style of offense should make it easier for Manning, but he’ll still take some shots down the field, and the Giants still have some playmakers. Last year, Manning attempted 197 vertical passes, the fourth-most in the NFL.
There is definitely some value to be had in the Giants backfield.
It consists of three characters– the relatively proven veteran, the high-upside young gun and the unproven rookie. I’d expect the Giants to give Rashad Jennings the first crack at the starting job. He has the most experience, while David Wilson has ball security issues, as well as neck security issues. Meanwhile, Andre Williams is a raw, less-than-dynamic back with limited upside. Jennings is the type of back that Tom Coughlin likes. He doesn’t fumble (just four in career) and is a very good pass-blocker (PFF ranked him inside top-12). He’s also the best goal line back, which is where his value could really soar.
According to Matthew Berry, Giants running backs have scored the second-most rushing touchdowns (74) and the 11th-most rushing yards (8,337). During that same span, New York has carried the ball on 55 percent of their carries from inside the 10-yard line, the seventh-highest rate in football.
Rushing TD Per Game
Jennings is a good short-yardage back, who made the most of his opportunities last year in Oakland. He averaged 4.6 yards per clip, rushed for 733 yards and six touchdowns, all while only seeing about 56 percent of the team’s snaps. Those numbers were good enough for him to finish as fantasy’s number 22 running back, making him an RB2, despite only starting seven games. He’s the guy to target in this backfield, and while Wilson is definitely worth a late-round flier, he needs to work his way back into the hearts of Coughlin, as well as fantasy owners.
You heard it here first, Victor Cruz is going to be gangbusters in 2014.
He started off in such fashion last season, hauling in five balls for 118 yards and three touchdowns on opening night against the Cowboys. However, he only caught one more touchdown the rest of the season, and only went over 100 yards three more times. Using the RotoViz Game Splits app, I examined how bad Cruz was after the first few weeks of the season.
He wasn’t very bad between Weeks 5-17, but consider that is floor is actually still quite high. Despite falling off, Cruz still finished among the top-25 wideouts in receiving yards (998), targets (121) and receptions (73). Meanwhile, McAdoo’s new offense will pay dividends for Cruz, who prefers and excels out of the slot, and the Giants will run plenty of three-wide receiver sets this year.
A top-10 finish is not out of the question.
And then there’s Rueben Randle, who should also mix well with this West Coast scheme. He’ll likely serve as the “X” receiver in this offense, and good news is that he’s been improving his route-running, which is great because he may be the worst in football in that regard. During a six-game stretch in the middle of the year, Randle was very good, posting almost 300 yards and six touchdowns. Finally, I’m not a huge fan of rookie Odell Beckham Jr. this year. Rookie receivers rarely ever pan out, he’s the number three option on the team, though he will be on the field quite a bit.
Because the Giants tight end position has been a revolving door for years, a new year, a new tight end. This time, it’s young Adrien Robinson who figures to get the first crack, and he does offer some sleeper appeal. A 6’4″, 270-pound tight end with 4.51 speed is very, very intriguing in my book, but we just don’t know how he’ll be utilized in this offense yet.