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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
Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:22 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:47 pm ET) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:30 pm ET) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:38 pm ET) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:41 pm ET) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:05 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


Raiders sign Horace Miller, Milton Williams
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) The Raiders have signed linebacker Horace Miller and wide receiver Milton Williams, the team announced on Wednesday.

Miller was waived by the Panthers earlier this offseason after spending one week on the active roster but seeing no playing time. Williams originally signed with the Raiders earlier this month before being waived a few days later.


Titans project DE DaQuan Jones as starter
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Titans defensive end DaQuan Jones started the final game of his rookie season against the Colts and is on track to open the 2015 season in the same role, The Tennessean reports.

"He's a starter at end, it's what we project," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "In the last game against Indianapolis, Jones played really well."

A fourth-round pick out of Penn State, Jones finished his rookie season with 13 tackles and one sack, with the sack and more than half of his tackles coming in his lone start at the end of the year.


Browns waive Nick McDonald
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:13 pm ET) The Browns waived offensive lineman Nick McDonald with an injury designation (knee), the team announced on Wednesday.

McDonald made seven starts at center last season after spending the first six weeks of the season on the reserve/non-football injury list with a wrist issue.


Titans DT Sammie Lee Hill diagnosed with knee sprain
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:08 pm ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill was diagnosed with a knee sprain, reports The Tennessean.

Hill the sustained the injury Tuesday, but he won't require surgery.


 
 
 
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