It seems like ages ago when the Giants won 11 consecutive road games en route to their improbable 17-14 Super Bowl XLII win over the Patriots. Believe it or not, that was only two years ago. Since then, the Giants have dealt with unrealized expectations, major injuries, and even an incident involving a firearm in sweatpants.
Ironically, the biggest question mark on the Giants team last year was their receiving corps. This year, it’s one of their biggest strengths. The G-Men have many players poised to prove they have some long-term value in dynasty leagues and some others who have seen better days. Let’s look closer at the big players from the Big Apple.
Players in their Prime
QB Eli Manning
He may be the most underrated fantasy quarterback in dynasty leagues around the country. Manning is finding himself being drafted outside the top ten quarterbacks in most start up dynasty drafts, despite coming off a season with 4,021 passing yards and 27 touchdowns.
Manning isn’t the most athletic player and he can drive fans crazy with his demeanor on the field, but he’s about as safe a quarterback as one can find in fantasy football. Manning is a low-end No. 1 signal caller in dynasty leagues with the potential to crack the top six every year.
TE Kevin Boss
His 42 receptions, 567 yards, and five touchdowns don’t knock your socks off, but Boss is solid. He’s not a No. 1 tight end option, but he’s a very good No. 2 with the opportunity to be among the top 15 in scoring each year.
WR Steve Smith
Yeah, that’s the USC player we all thought would be a star, right? Well, he’s arrived as a great option in fantasy leagues, especially those that award points for receptions. Smith led the Giants with 107 catches, 1,220 yards, and seven touchdowns last season.
In comparison to other players from last season, he had more receptions than Andre Johnson, more yards than Larry Fitzgerald, and just two fewer touchdowns than Vincent Jackson. I’d take Smith in a heartbeat in dynasty leagues. He’s another player being undervalued, regardless of the emergence of teammate Hakeem Nicks.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Bradshaw seems to tease us each year with his incredible athleticism and natural running ability, but tends to find himself on the shelf with injuries much too often. This upcoming season will likely be his best chance to shine, though. Brandon Jacobs is wearing down and the Giants did nothing in the draft to add competition to the tandem of Bradshaw and Jacobs. There’s a lot of risk here, but he could be a great player to target this offseason. Let’s just hope he gets healthy and stays that way this time.
WR Hakeem Nicks
His rookie season was, well, entertaining. It seemed that every time he took a step forward, he’d take a step back. This was best illustrated in a Sunday night game against the Eagles where he dropped a sure touchdown pass, only to catch the next one for a 68-yard score. He ended the year with 47 catches for 790 yards and six touchdowns. There’s really no doubting his ability. If he can shore up his route running and consistency, he can be a future No. 1 WR.
WR Mario Manningham
I loved Manningham when he came out of Michigan a few years back. He finally came into his own last year with 57 catches, 822 yards, and five touchdowns. Smith and Nicks will be the main weapons for Manning, but Manningham should prove to have value in fantasy as a No. 3 WR with upside for years to come.
Players with Falling Values
RB Brandon Jacobs
For a guy who so many fantasy owners were counting on to be a workhorse, 835 yards and five touchdowns on 3.7 yards per carry just didn’t get it done last year. Jacobs is simply freakishly built for a running back at 6’4” and 264 pounds. His bone bruising running style has been entertaining to watch, but it’s left him worn down. He was obviously not the same player last season, regardless of the knee injury. Remember, when running backs tend to decline, they go very, very quickly.
WR Dominik Hixon
His recent torn ACL is a serious blow to his career. He excelled in punt returns last year, but was also making strides to be a more complete player. This injury is a big blow to his future worth and development.
WR Sinorice Moss
He’s likely the biggest beneficiary of the Hixon injury, as he’ll probably take over the special teams duties left open. However, he’s shown very little in his four-year career to believe he’ll be any type of weapon in the receiving game.
RB Gartrell Johnson
A powerful runner from Colorado State, Johnson was gobbled up by the Giants after being released from the Chargers. He’s shown an ability to be a good receiver out of the backfield and has the ability to break tackles. With Jacobs struggling and Bradshaw’s injury history, Johnson is a guy to keep your eye on.
RB Andre Brown
At this point, I prefer Brown to Danny Ware, but either of them could fit in this category. If Brown is healthy, he has a lot of natural ability.
WR Ramses Barden
He was about as raw as raw could be coming out of Cal Poly last year. He’s a monster target at 6’6” and 227 pounds, though. Can he be developed enough to make an impact as early as this season?
The Giants have some very intriguing players from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Their situation is truly a study on how fast things can change in the NFL. Last year, this team seemingly had the best RB corps in the league and a group of WRs who were a mess. This year, the tables have completely turned and the question marks lay squarely in the backfield. The preseason games for the Giants could go a long way in helping us all figure out exactly which skill players have the most sleeper value.