What Does Hakeem Nicks' Injury Mean for Giants, Fantasy Football Owners?

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent ISeptember 17, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 16:  Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants celebrates his first down in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 16, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Fear not, Hakeem Nicks is feeling optimistic about his foot.

According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:

Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said his surgically repaired right foot was feeling fine after the Giants win over Tampa Bay. 

"It's good," Nicks said. "It's pretty much what I expected after a long game, a big game like this."

So, New York Giants fans and those with Nicks on their fantasy football team can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. After all, Nicks was quite the contributor to Big Blue's offense and Eli Manning's production on Sunday.

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Nicks finished with 199 yards on 10 receptions which was an impressive turnaround compared to Week 1.

Still, Nicks' foot is a reasonable concern for Giants fans and fantasy owners. New York is on a short week as the confident Carolina Panthers play host Thursday night. With Nicks' performance against Tampa, the Cats will have to gear coverage toward him for any shot at winning.

To that end, let's break down what Nicks means (if he plays) for the Giants and fantasy football heading into Week 3.

Giants Offense

What Manning and the Giants face this week is a significantly improved defense from Carolina.

The Panthers first held Tampa Bay to only 16 points in Week 1 and despite allowing 27 to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, the Cats picked off Drew Brees twice. So, Carolina will attempt to be opportunistic against the Giants and won't allow much downfield.

Brees may have gone 31-of-49 for 325 yards, but 13 completions went to Darren Sproles and four more went to Pierre Thomas. That's 17 completions to running backs; therefore, anticipate Nicks drawing double coverage quite often which will force Manning to check down.

Plus, considering Manning's early decision-making miscues against the Bucs, the Panthers will be looking to cause havoc from the start. Press coverage will be needed on the outside to slow Nicks from getting off the ball, slowing the play's development.

In short, New York has to establish the ground game quickly and create man coverage situations to take a few shots downfield. It's not so much about attacking the Panthers' weakness as it is remaining balanced to explode later on.

What happened against the Buccaneers was no fluke, but for the Giants to control the game throughout, they can't get out of rhythm in the first half.

Fantasy Football

If he ends up playing despite the shortened week, Nicks is certainly worthy of a start and the Panthers are a favorable matchup.

However, keep in mind that another rough start is possible. The Panthers need to isolate him in coverage and force the Giants to run the ball early. Manning will also have to mainly target Victor Cruz, but that's an edge for Carolina in knowing a quarterback's primary target.

So, Cruz will see tough man coverage with zone help underneath and Manning will have to look elsewhere. Fortunately for the Giants, Carolina is still a vulnerable run defense after giving up 163 rushing yards to the Saints and 130 to Tampa in Week 1.

Regardless of who carries the rock for Big Blue against the Panthers, success will come on the ground to set up the pass. This also keeps Cam Newton and Co. off the field and we all know how explosive the Cats offense can be.

As the game progresses, though, the Giants aerial assault can then pick up and get the fantasy numbers rolling. If anything right now regarding Nicks, it's simply being patient as Week 2 showed us that production will happen.

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