OK, so it's early for fantasy projections, but owners are always looking for any tidbit of information and analysis to get the drop on their competitors.
That's why we're set to take a look at the statistical results of the Hall of Fame Game to see what can be taken away from the Sunday night clash between the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants.
The Giants won the game 17-13, but fantasy owners don't care about that. It's all about the stats. Here's a look at the notable performances and what to make of them—if anything—heading toward the regular season.
Eli Manning Was Sharp
A year after leading the NFL with 27 interceptions, all eyes will be focused on Eli Manning's ability to protect the football in the preseason.
In leagues where interceptions count against a player's point total, Manning was almost impossible to start last season. On Sunday night, he was sharp as a tack in his one quarter of work.
He completed six of seven passes for 43 yards. He did have one turnover via fumble, but overall, you couldn't have dreamed of a better performance in a meaningless game.
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com had this observation of Manning and the offense's performance:
It didn't take long to see what's going to be different about the New York Giants' offense this year. They played up-tempo. They went no-huddle. They shuffled tight ends in and out of the game at a dizzying pace. Their first two possessions were disappointing from a results standpoint. (The second ended with a lost fumble on a sack.) But Eli Manning & Co. looked better on their third possession, when they leaned on the run game and went 80 yards on 12 plays for the preseason's first touchdown.
The up-tempo offense should keep Manning focused. The more reps the team gets together, the sharper it will be.
It's beginning to feel like a bounce-back year for Manning as a potential fantasy football stud.
EJ Manuel Was Not
While we shouldn't overreact to anything that happened in the first preseason game of the year, EJ Manuel didn't look like a player ready to take the next step in his development.
The second-year pro completed just two of seven passing attempts and failed to get the ball to prized rookie Sammy Watkins despite targeting him three times.
Manuel still has time to get himself together before the season begins, but based on this performance, it's hard to see how he will do much better than the 197.2 yards and 1.1 touchdown passes per game he averaged as a rookie.
That doesn't scream "draft me" to fantasy owners.
Robert Woods Looks Ready to Take Next Step
Despite Manuel's struggles, backup quarterback Jeff Tuel and second-year wide receiver Robert Woods were on the same page. Woods caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
He ran sharp routes, displayed good hands, solid body control and he looked confident. NFL.com's Elliot Harrison suggests that Woods could be in for a big year statistically:
Woods looks capable of producing the numbers Harrison mentioned, but the questions are: Will he get enough looks with Watkins on the field, and can Manuel play well enough to make either man a legitimate fantasy stud?
Time will tell.
Corey Washington Could Be a Sleeper
New York's 6'4", 215-pound rookie wide receiver from Newberry College has strict orders from his grandma to impress during the preseason, per Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger:
Corey Washington leaped high in the air to snare a Ryan Nassib pass in the fourth quarter on a 73-yard touchdown reception.
If Washington can continue to show that he has big-play ability, it'll be hard for the Giants not to keep him around and give him some playing time in the regular season.
With the departure of Hakeem Nicks, the team needs a big receiver capable of making tough catches while tightly covered.
If Washington continues to perform in the preseason, he could be a fantasy sleeper.
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