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2011 Fantasy outlooks: New York Giants

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Last year was an interesting season for Eli Manning. He finished as the No. 10 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues, but he still had somewhat of a disappointing year.

The positives for Manning were his second-consecutive year with 4,000-plus passing yards and a career-high 31 touchdowns. The negatives were a career-high 25 interceptions and five fumbles. He also missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Now it's time for Manning to build on the positives and have a complete season. His performance could be a difference-maker for Fantasy owners.

Manning falls in the category of quarterbacks that will come off the draft board after all the guaranteed starting options. I have him ranked No. 12, and if you are the last owner to draft a quarterback you have to decide between Manning, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford.

Manning is more consistent than Flacco and Cutler and safer than Stafford even if the Lions starter has more upside. Manning has the potential for another 4,000-plus yard season with his receiving corps of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and most likely Steve Smith, who is a free agent this offseason. He also has 58 touchdowns the past two years, so 30 touchdowns is a possibility.

If Manning can cut down on the turnovers then he could remain a Top 10 Fantasy option. And that would be great value for someone drafted in Round 7 or later.

Sleeper ... Mario Manningham, WR

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Eli Manning
Running Backs
Ahmad Bradshaw
Brandon Jacobs
Wide Receivers
Hakeem Nicks
Mario Manningham
Steve Smith
Tight Ends
Kevin Boss
Kicker/DST
Lawrence Tynes
Giants DST

Manningham had a career year in his third year in the NFL in 2010, and he's hoping to build off that performance this season in what should be a contract year. Manningham has the chance for a good season with Smith dealing with a knee injury and potentially not coming back to the team. Last season, Manningham had 60 catches for 944 yards and nine touchdowns, and he has 14 touchdowns in his past two years. He closed the season on a high note with 16 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns in his final three games, and he's capable of big stats as a go-to target for Manning. Manningham will likely open the season starting opposite Nicks, and with that being the case we consider him a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside to play like a No. 2 option. He's worth drafting with a mid-round pick in all leagues, and hopefully he can hold off Smith for targets if he returns.

Late-round flier ... Brandon Jacobs, RB

Ahmad Bradshaw is a free agent this offseason, but he's expected to return to the Giants and remain the starter. He should be drafted as early as Round 2. But Jacobs is expected to again share carries with Bradshaw, and coach Tom Coughlin has said he wants to get Jacobs more involved. Jacobs finished 2010 with quality stats of 147 carries for 823 yards (5.6 average) and nine touchdowns, and he had seven games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. Bradshaw clearly has more upside than Jacobs at this point in his career, but Jacobs is still a quality Fantasy reserve. He has the potential to duplicate his stats from 2010 this season, and with that being the case we recommend drafting him as a No. 3 running back with a mid-round pick even though has been going late on Draft Day. He's not expected to play like he did in 2008 when he had 1,089 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, but he should still produce enough to be considered a potential flex option or someone to use as a bye-week or injury replacement.

Injury-risk candidate … Steve Smith, WR

Smith has two things working against him this offseason: a knee injury and a lack of a contract. He's expected to return to the Giants this year, but when he will get back on the field is another story. Smith suffered torn cartilage in his knee in December and underwent microfracture surgery. He hopes to be ready by training camp, but that's overly optimistic. We expect to see Smith early in the year, barring a setback, and he will likely be the No. 3 receiver for the Giants behind Nicks and Manningham and work in the slot. He could eventually replace Manningham as a starter if he plays well, but Smith should only be drafted with a mid-round pick as a risk/reward receiver. He's someone to stash on your roster and wait for his return. When healthy, as we saw in 2009, Smith has 100-catch, 1,200-yard potential with a half-dozen touchdowns, and we hope he can get back to that level soon.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@WAS STL @PHI @ARI SEA BUF bye MIA @NE @SF PHI @NO GB @DAL WAS @NYJ DAL

The Giants benefit from nine home games this season with a Week 16 matchup "at" the Jets. That should be a fun contest for New Yorkers, but Fantasy owners won't love the lack of offense when those two defenses meet, especially in a potential Fantasy championship. The Giants, even with playing in the NFC East, have a relatively easy schedule with home games against St. Louis, Seattle and Buffalo. But they have a tough two-week stretch with a road game at New England in Week 9 followed by a cross-country trip to San Francisco in Week 10. Still, the overall schedule should favor Bradshaw, Jacobs and the passing game.

Training camp topics

2010 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Ahmad Bradshaw 323
Brandon Jacobs 154
Hakeem Nicks 79
Mario Manningham 61
Steve Smith 48

Smith's health will be a big topic to see if he can return on time. His presence on the field will impact two players for Fantasy owners when you factor in Manningham. We already have established Nicks as the best Fantasy receiver for the Giants, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 2 in all leagues.

Fantasy owners should also monitor if Coughlin will stick to his word about getting Jacobs more touches. If Jacobs can get into the 180-carry range and maintain his 5.6-yard average then he could be looking at 1,000-plus rushing yards and double digits in touchdowns. That's tremendous value with a late-round pick.

Of course, Jacobs' draft status will depend on Bradshaw, and we expect him to be in camp with the Giants. But two players who won't be in camp with the Giants are Tiki Barber and Plaxico Burress.

The Giants own the rights to Barber and Burress, but they are expected to join new teams once the lockout is over. Barber has minimal Fantasy value and should not be drafted in the majority of leagues, but Burress could be worth drafting with a late-round selection if he signs with the right team.

Injury update

Steve Smith (knee; questionable for the start of training camp) … Hakeem Nicks (toe; probable for the start of training camp) ... Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle; probable for the start of training camp) ... Kevin Boss (hip; probable for the start of training camp) ... Osi Umenyiora (hip; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(10:01 pm ET) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(8:28 pm ET) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(8:10 pm ET) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 


Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:42 pm ET) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 


WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told ESPN.com via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.


Report: Texans interested in DT Antonio Smith
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Texans are interested in signing defensive tackle Antonio Smith, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The team is in discussions about bringing back Smith.

Smith, who played for the Texans for five seasons, was released by the Raiders on Tuesday. The 33-year-old has started at least 15 games in each of the last six seasons. Over his 10-year career, he has racked up 302 total tackles, 44.5 sacks, eight passes defensed and 11 forced fumbles.


Report: Chargers sign G Michael Huey, waive Baca, Alecxih
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) The Chargers have signed guard Michael Huey of the Arena Football League, according to the UT San Diego. The team also waived offensive lineman Jeff Baca and defensive lineman Chas Alecxih.

Huey is a three-time All-AFL member, playing for the Arizona Rattlers. He spent three weeks with the Chargers during the 2011 preseason. The Rattlers won the league championship in each year that Huey was there.

Baca, 25, was brought in as insurance as an interior offensive lineman last season after the Chargers went through five starting centers.

Alecxih, twice a member of the team's practice squad, did not see any regular season action in 2014. 

 


 
 
 
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