Fantasy Football: Hakeem Nicks' Injury and Its Effect on the Wide Receiver Class

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Fantasy Football: Hakeem Nicks' Injury and Its Effect on the Wide Receiver Class
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
In a typical, injury-free season, Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks could probably catch 70 balls and score eight TDs with his eyes closed.

If NFL training camps were opening in two or three weeks, perhaps I'd be more worried about the broken bone in Hakeem Nicks' foot.

But with preseason games three months away and the Giants' Week 1 clash against the Cowboys not until September, there are no major concerns with Nicks' current fantasy value.

Simply put, Nicks shall remain a top-10 asset...for now.

For my receiver rankings from April (standard-scoring leagues), Nicks stood at No. 4, behind Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson...and immediately ahead of Roddy White, Wes Welker and Mike Wallace.

Obviously, that number may dip further if Nicks is sidelined beyond the 12 weeks of recuperation time (initial prognosis); but right now, I don't foresee a plunge out of the top 10 and into the posh-but-not-elite neighborhood of Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones, Jeremy Maclin, Miles Austin and Brandon Marshall, among others.

Here's why: In four playoff games last year, Nicks tallied 28 catches, 43 targets, 444 yards and four TDs, with per-outing averages of 7 catches/111 yards/1 TD. When healthy, a crunch-time star like Nicks deserves to be among the elite receivers. His 11 touchdowns from 2010 confirm that, as well.

As for Nicks' partner-in-crime, receiver Victor Cruz (82 catches, 1,536 yards, nine TDs last year), he'll definitely get bumped up from his current slot (No. 9) in next week's revised Top 30 listing. The Giants, for all their passing prowess, warrant at least one wideout in the top seven.

Regarding Nicks' injury, it's amazing that a fifth-metatarsal break in a foot may require the same healing timetable of a torn ACL; or is Jerry Rice just the freak of all freaks, in terms of quickly recovering from a surefire season-ending injury (circa 1997)? Which begs another question: Will Nicks be able to run at full speed (or something close to that) at the end of his 12-week term?

The doctors performing his surgery on May 25 probably won't reveal anything more than the "operation was a success"...which is basically the standard line for any procedure that doesn't involve heart-transplant recipients.

Back in April, I had Nicks targeted for 85 catches, 1,241 yards and 10 touchdowns. But I'll hedge the figures down to 76 catches, 1,082 yards and seven scores—for reasons I cannot fully explain.

After all, if Nicks is healthy and in shape for the opener against Dallas...why couldn't he still enjoy a top-five season?

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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