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2012 Fantasy outlooks: New York Giants

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For a team coming off of an improbable Super Bowl run, the Giants sure are loaded with volatility on offense. Even with steady Eli Manning and his ever-improving production, there are a lot of question marks around Big Blue headed into 2012.

The run game got younger and faster after the team let go of running back Brandon Jacobs and drafted David Wilson out of Virginia Tech. But without the big-bodied Jacobs to pick up the tough inside yardage, can the Giants continue to succeed in short yardage and goal line situations? And with Ahmad Bradshaw effective but injury prone, can the Giants count on Wilson to do well if he's forced to take on a large workload? Or, will the Giants use more than Bradshaw and Wilson, utilizing bench players like D.J. Ware and Da'Rel Scott?

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It doesn't get easier at wide receiver, where Hakeem Nicks suffered a fractured foot running a route during an offseason drill, costing him offseason practice time and potentially part of his training camp and preseason. Not only must Fantasy owners worry about what kind of shape he'll be in for the start of the season, but the injury is a stark reminder of his history of getting hurt. Whether Nicks is ready or not, there's a big spotlight on Victor Cruz and whether or not he can be a strong contributor again. Adding to the mayhem at receiver is the addition or Rueben Randle, the team's second-round pick. At first it was believed he'd fill in for the departed Mario Manningham, who like Jacobs left for greener pastures in San Francisco. But Randle might have to step up if Nicks is unavailable or if Cruz is double-covered play after play.

The tight end crop is an even bigger blur: The only healthy returning option left after last season is Bear Pascoe; the Giants added Martellus Bennett via free agency and Adrien Robinson via the draft but the unit as a whole is unproven. Jake Ballard, who tore his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI, was placed on waivers and claimed by the Patriots.

At least the Giants have Manning, who has not only been stable for the Giants offense but also a guy whose numbers have improved year after year. Manning posted career-highs in pass completions, passing yards, yards per attempt and completions of 20- and 40-plus yards last season, falling just shy of 5,000 yards. He also toned down his turnovers from a year earlier and won that second Super Bowl ring. So while there's tumult across the board for the Giants' other skill-position players, at least they can count on Manning to stand tall.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Eli Manning 4
Running Backs
Ahmad Bradshaw 2
David Wilson 11
Wide Receivers
Hakeem Nicks 3
Victor Cruz 3
Rueben Randle 13
Tight Ends
Martellus Bennett ND
Kickers/Defense
Lawrence Tynes 14
Giants DST 13
ND - not expected to get drafted

Impact rookie ... Rueben Randle, wide receiver
Opportunity should knock for Randle early on in training camp. With Nicks banged up and fellow backup Giants receivers like Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon unable to make a dent when given a chance previously, the big rookie out of Louisiana State should find a way to contribute right away. Randle has good size (6-foot-3 and 210 pounds) and a solid track record coming out of school that lacked a capable passer (53 catches this past season for 917 yards and eight touchdowns). Manning and the Giants have always been at their best when they have a dangerous three-receiver set. When Nicks heals, Randle should be that third man to drive defenses crazy. And even if Nicks isn't healed, Randle could be in line to replace him and put up decent totals in his place.

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Keeper-league target ... David Wilson, running back
Wilson could get fast-tracked to the field like Randle, but his impact might not be as huge. For starters, he's clearly the backup to Bradshaw, who will enter camp as healthy as he's been in years thanks to some clean-up work on his foot this offseason. And even when Bradshaw's been hurt, he's never missed more than four games. Bradshaw will make way for Wilson from time to time, but other backs like Ware and Scott will also vie for some snaps throughout the season. Moreover, Wilson won't replace Jacobs in the least; Wilson is more of a speedy outside runner. So the goal-line reps that might have gone to Jacobs in the past will probably head toward Bradshaw. Look for Wilson's impact in the future, not in 2012.

Don't reach ... Victor Cruz, wide receiver
Perhaps the most "fun" part of watching Cruz last season was his knack for making big plays and beating defenses deep. But as the Giants went into the postseason, Cruz's production diminished. After totaling 82 catches for 1,536 yards (18.7 avg.) and nine touchdowns over 15 games (that's slightly over 100 yards per game on average), Cruz cooled as postseason opponents did more to take him out of being a gamebreaker. He had 21 catches for 269 yards (12.8 avg.) and one touchdown through four games (less than 70 yards per game). Most people believe Cruz will take a step back in receptions and receiving yards this season but not completely fall off the map, especially in a contract year. When you consider drafting him, make sure you're not leaving a reliable receiver on the board.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
DAL TB @CAR @PHI CLE @SF WAS @DAL PIT @CIN bye GB @WAS NO @ATL @BAL PHI

New York should get off to a very good start and potentially be 4-1 before a rematch at San Francisco. They also should be involved in a lot of high scoring games down the stretch. Playing at Baltimore in Week 16 is gross but a Week 11 bye week helps. It's not an easy schedule, but rematches with three non-division opponents from last season help.

Training camp topics

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Ahmad Bradshaw 234 carries, 50 catches
Brandon Jacobs 189 carries, 19 catches
Victor Cruz 103 catches, 1 carry
Hakeem Nicks 104 catches
D.J. Ware 50 carries, 29 catches

Obviously the health of Nicks will be at the forefront of all things at Giants camp. The sooner he can get back on the field and renew his rhythm with Manning, the better. Nicks should be on pace to be ready for the start of the season but it's always better if a player spends time ramping up for the season by practicing in camp and playing in the preseason. We'd like to see him back on the field by Friday, August 17, a week before the team's third preseason game and just over two weeks before their season opener against the Cowboys. That should give him enough time to get into game shape.

In the meantime, expect the Giants to spend a chunk of camp working on finding ways to get Cruz open without Nicks taking some coverage away. Bunch formations and putting Cruz in motion before the snap could be in our future. The Giants will also experiment with Randle, Barden and Hixon, seeing just how much they can take on with Nicks out. Randle has the most potential of the three and it isn't even close.

The Giants also have an interesting situation at tight end. Bennett was an early offseason sleeper until it was disclosed that he weighed in at 291 pounds (good weight, but the kind of weight for a blocking tight end and not a receiving threat). Many will keep an eye on Adrien Robinson, the Giants' rookie tight end out of Cincinnati. The former hoopster has lots of potential but needs a great camp to make an impact this season. At 6-foot-5 and 267 pounds, many think he could develop into a poor man's Jimmy Graham someday.

There might be some questions about how the Giants' linebackers will shake out or whether or not Prince Amukamara will be able to handle the load at nickelback, but all of those issues aren't as serious because of the incredible depth along the Giants' defensive line. The unit -- led by pass rushers Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul -- is literally the straw that stirs the defensive drink in New York. Their work along with Jerrel Jernigan improving as a returner in his second season should make the Giants DST worth a pick in drafts.

Injury update

Hakeem Nicks (foot; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Ahmad Bradshaw (foot; probable for the start of training camp) ... Domenik Hixon (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Justin Tuck (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Terrell Thomas (knee; questionable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Chargers' McCoy: Philip Rivers had 'outstanding' practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Chargers coach Mike McCoy indicated that quarterback Philip Rivers (back, chest) "had an "oustanding day" in Thursday's practice, NFL.com reports.

"A ball did not hit the ground in all the throws he made today," McCoy added. "Philip was Philip, so he'll be ready to roll."

Rivers was a full participant in Thursday's practice after sitting out Tuesday and Wednesday. He should be ready to roll for Saturday's matchup with the 49ers.


Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald progresses to full practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was a full participant in Thursday's practice after being limited Wednesday, the team announced.

Fitzgerald has racked up 11 receptions in two games since his two-game absence but has managed just 64 yards and no touchdowns during that stretch. He's on track to resume his regular role in his team's Week 16 matchup with the Seahawks.


Cardinals' Kerwynn Williams limited Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams (knee) was limited in Thursday's practice, the team announced.

Williams has shared touches with Stepfan Taylor with Andre Ellington out for the season but has amassed 175 rushing yards on 34 carries over the last two weeks. If his knee issue keeps him out Sunday, Taylor and Marion Grice would likely handle most of the touches at the position.


Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) limited in practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, the team announced.

Stanton hurt the knee Sunday against the Rams and appeared destined to miss Week 16's matchup with the Seahawks, but coach Bruce Arians indicated Wednesday that Stanton could play this Sunday in a best-case scenario. Arians did say Wednesday that Ryan Lindley would start against the Seahawks, and he's still the favorite to line up under center, but Stanton's absence isn't a foregone conclusion at this point.


Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch doesn't practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (back) did not practice Thursday, the team announced.

Last week, Lynch was able to take part in practice in a limited fashion Thursday after taking his customary day off Wednesday. This week, he's looking at two DNPs heading into Friday. Lynch was listed as probable in Week 15 but could be facing a questionable tag (or worse) in Week 16. If Lynch isn't able to play Sunday, the Seahawks would likely expand the roles of Robert Turbin and Christine Michael.

Joining Lynch on the sidelines for Thursday's practice were tackle Russel Okung (chest), guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle), center Max Unger (knee/ankle), tight end Tony Moeaki (shoulder), wide receiver Paul Richardson (hamstring) and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle).


Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker good to go for Titans
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:11 pm ET) The Titans will have both Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker Week 16 against the Jaguars.

Both players came into the game listed as questionable. Wright is dealing with a hand injury. Walker has a knee issue. Both players will attempt to play through their injuries.

The team will also have Byron Stingily and Kamerion Wimbley. Both Stingily and Wimbley were listed as questionable. Daimion Stafford, who came into the contest listed as probable, will also be available. 


Titans list inactives for Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) The Titans have listed QB Zach Mettenberger, DB Jemea Thomas, LB Zaviar Gooden, LB Dontay Moch, OT Terren Jones, OT Taylor Lewan and DL Mike Martin as inactive Week 16 against the Jaguars.

Both Mettenberger and Lewan were listed as doubtful heading into the contest. Neither was expected to take the field. Gooden was listed as questionable due to a hamstring injury. The other four players listed are healthy scratches. 


Jaguars' Blake Bortles, Marqise Lee active vs. Titans Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (foot) and wide receiver Marqise Lee (elbow) are active for Thursday night's Week 16 matchup with the Titans.

Bortles was listed as questionable to play on the team's final injury report but was reported to be starting earlier Thursday. Lee was listed as probable to play after catching four of his 10 targets for 14 yards in Week 15.

Players who were on the team's final Week 16 injury report who are also active include defensive end Ryan Davis (hip) and safety Josh Evans (foot), both of whom were questionable to suit up Thursday.


Jaguars list Week 16 inactives vs. Titans
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) The Jaguars listed the following players as inactive for Thursday night's week 16 battle with the Titans: wide receiver Tommy Streeter (abdomen), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee), defensive end Andre Branch (groin), cornerbacks Teddy Williams and Jeremy Harris, safety Matt Daniels and guard Tyler Shatley.

Streeter and Miller were listed as questionable to play Thursday on the team's final injury report, while Branch was previously ruled out. The Jaguars have three quarterbacks active for the game, including first-stringer Blake Bortles (foot), who was listed as questionable to play.


You'll want to stick with Tre Mason
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:31 pm ET) In two games since blowing up for 164 total yards and three touchdowns, Rams running back Tre Mason has a total of 99 yards on 33 carries. Neither performance was good individually, and Week 15 against Arizona was especially bad. Subtract the fumble from his 33 yards, and he scored a grand total of one Fantasy point in standard CBSSports.com leagues.

So why would you consider using him in your championship game with the Rams hosting the Giants in Week 16? For one thing, the matchup is a night-and-day difference. You had to expect Mason to struggle against the Cardinals, who rank sixth against the run, allowing 90.4 yards per game, but would have guessed the Redskins, his Week 14 opponent, rank seventh? It's not a matter of teams choosing to beat them through the air either. They're one of 10 teams that have allowed less than 4 yards per carry.

The Giants, meanwhile, rank 30th against the run, allowing 135.1 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. It doesn't mean Mason is a lock for big numbers. The Redskins' Alfred Morris, who most would consider a superior running back, had just 49 yards on 14 carries against the Giants last week. But after splitting carries early on, Mason has become the clear workhorse of the Rams backfield. You don't sit a running back with that role when he has a favorable matchup, especially when he's performed as Mason has this season.

Jamey Eisenberg agrees, naming Mason the CBSSports.com Start of the Week for Week 16.


 
 
 
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