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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
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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