Hakeem Nicks: Giants and Fantasy Owners Must Bench Star WR vs. 49ers

Brandon Galvin@bgny3Featured ColumnistOctober 11, 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

New York Giants and fantasy players must bench superstar wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and enter Week 6 with their backs against the wall and a sense of urgency.

Nicks (knee) did not practice on Wednesday, according to Newark Star-Ledger's Jenny Vrentas, but New York Daily NewsRalph Vacchiano reports that Nicks was seen doing some light work and was moving well.

Hakeem Nicks, by the way, appeared to be moving very well as he ran outside. He was making cuts, backpedaling too. #NYG

— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) October 10, 2012

When healthy, very few receivers in the game are as talented as Nicks. His combination of size, speed and strength is among the best in the game. He has the rare knack for making an uncanny play at any time in a game, in large part to his fantastic body control, soft hands, eye coordination and underrated footwork.

Perhaps as important as anything else, Nicks has big-game experience and is unfazed in clutch situations, which is why Eli Manning looks his way early and often with games on the line.

Still, the Giants are flying cross-country to battle a San Francisco 49ers team that is looking for blood and is ready to pounce on a wounded Giants squad.

New York is riddled with injuries in the secondary, Andre Brown suffered a concussion in Week 5 and of course, the Giants escaped San Fran last year with the NFC Championship en route to another Super Bowl. This 49ers team will be looking to hit the snot out of the Giants, and Nicks will have a massive target on his back.

It is a great sign for Nicks and the Giants that he was seen making cuts and moving well, but it is merely a step in the right direction. Even if Nicks resumes practicing this week, the Giants need to focus on the ultimate goal of the season—winning a Super Bowl.

This matchup in San Francisco not only means far more to the 49ers looking to avenge last season's loss, but it is a mere stopgap battle in the grand war. As the saying goes, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Nicks is far too important to the overall goal than to risk playing him when he isn't 100 percent.

Nicks is the type of player that will gut out a performance by any means necessary, as evident by his outstanding and heroic outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oddly enough, the Giants have a history of winning big games without Nicks on the field. Not only do they have a winning record in games he doesn't play in since they drafted him, but just last year they went into Foxboro and handled the Patriots

New York simply performs better when there is a glaring sense of urgency.

For fantasy owners wondering if they should start one of their top selections should he decide to suit up, the answer is simply no, unless they don't have any other option. Flying cross-country, there's no telling if Nicks' knee will swell or flare up on the flight or in pre-game warmups.

The last thing a fantasy owner wants to see is the dreaded questionable mark for a late-afternoon game and then see their player on the sidelines to start the game and be left high and dry. Perhaps just as bad is waiting for your star receiver return to action, only to find them sitting on the sidelines because their injury affected them during the game and forced them back to the bench.

There is simply too much working against Nicks for Week 6, and he would be better suited returning to action healthy in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins at home.

The Giants and fantasy owners must swallow their pride and bench Nicks against the 49ers.