Hakeem Nicks: Giants' Stud Receiver Is No Longer a Must-Fantasy Start

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 16:   Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants celebrates with  Ramses Barden #13 of the New York Giants against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at MetLife Stadium on September 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Fantasy owners who landed New York Giant Hakeem Nicks in drafts this season rightfully felt they had a receiver they could throw into the starting lineup and leave there as long as he was healthy.

It is time to rethink that policy.

This goes well beyond the injuries that forced him to miss the three games leading up the last week's Giants triumph over the 49ers. More on the reasoning in a moment, but let's get up to speed on Nicks' health. 

In an article by The Star-Ledger's Jenny Vrentas Nicks admits he "wasn't feeling great" as he turned in a three-catch, 44-yard performance. Nicks also added: 

I know it will get better as weeks go on. I expect to come to out here and be great, great my first game back, but I know it will get better next week and the week after that. It just takes time.

So for starters, we have Nicks still trying to get past the foot and knee injuries that forced him out of action. Until he proves he can attack the field pain free, his fantasy production is in jeopardy.

But here is where his fantasy value really takes a hit. 

What will permanently limit Nicks' production this season is the Giants' offense. It is not that they are struggling—they're clearly not—it is because the run game has turned into such a beast. 

Last week, the Giants' rush offense shredded the vaunted 49ers' rush defense to the tune of 149 yards and a touchdown—numbers that no one expected the 49ers to allow at any point this season. 

The Giants are ninth in rushing yards and sixth in yards per rush, and with a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw this rush offense is getting better—he has gone for a combined 316 yards in his last two games. 

As a result of this production, the passing game is understandably being given fewer chances to produce, which mean fewer targets for Nicks. 

Another factor here is that Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have shown great chemistry in the red zone. Cruz already has six TD grabs. Also, tight end Martellus Bennett and his three touchdowns will get plenty of red zone looks.

This leaves Nicks staring at the diminished targets created by the strong run game and being the third option in the red zone.

Nicks will undoubtedly go on to have some big games this year, but there will be plenty of contests where he just isn't a featured part of the game plan.