In the NFL, great achievements can be fleeting.
With the mind-boggling number of variables that comprise an NFL season, it is difficult to say whether a player is the real deal or a one-hit wonder after a great campaign. Just ask Derek Anderson. A guy with top-10 breakout numbers one year could find himself on the bench halfway through the next.
Thankfully for Giants fans, Hakeem Nicks does not fall into this category. One of the NFL's fastest-rising stars, Nicks has legitimized himself as a possible top-10 wide receiver after just three full seasons (and a glorious postseason run).
Nicks has already "broken out," amassing 2,244 yards and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons, despite playing in only 28 of the past 32 regular season games. With obvious and steady improvement in each of his first three seasons, there is no reason to believe that the newly-ringed Nicks isn't heading for a career year.
Nicks is neither the tallest nor the fastest of wide receivers. However, he is deceptively strong, and able to beat press coverage with ease as with his superior weight and strength on defensive backs.
He can break tackles, and once he does his underrated speed allows him to get separation downfield quickly. His instincts are spot on, and he is able to track the ball to any location, even when he is not the target.
Nicks has enormous hands, each measuring an area of 10.5 inches according to his pre-draft scouting report on NFL.com.
To put that in perspective: Jason Smith and Andre Smith (both offensive linemen), have hands measuring 9.75 inches, despite them both being two-three inches taller than Nicks and outweighing him by 100-plus pounds. His hands are possibly his greatest strength, as he is able to catch the ball confidently away from his body, and he has only fumbled three times in 202 regular-season career touches.
Nicks is also coming off an incredible postseason run where he had perhaps the best four-game stretch of his career. En route to the Giants' title, Nicks amassed 444 yards receiving on 15.9 yards per catch, garnering four touchdowns along the way (including this ungodly hail-mary catch).
The momentum from the postseason coupled with the recent regular season performances of defending Super Bowl champions suggest a big year.
In case his physical tools and past production are not enough to indicate an upcoming career year, we're not done.
Nicks has a tremendous work ethic and has officially established himself as the veteran leader of the New York Giants' wide receivers. He is a low-key guy who doesn't whine to get the ball; he lets his play do the talking for him.
Nicks also has the advantage of catching passes from Eli Manning, who we all know now is an elite quarterback. With both players in their prime, continued production isn't something to speculate about, it's simply logical. Nicks will also benefit from the massive amount of attention that will likely be given to teammate Victor Cruz following his historical breakout year in 2011.
The apparent revival of the New York running game with the drafting of David Wilson is a further indicator that Nicks will enjoy his best season yet. If the backfield platoon gets rolling early in the year, it only means more fun for the Giants' best receiver.
Even with his fractured foot sidelining him until at least the start of training camp, Nicks has everything he needs to have his best year ever. With time to heal before the season, he might even play all 16 games.
In short? Draft Nicks early in Fantasy Football if you know what's good for you. Expect top-10 numbers at the very least.
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