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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).

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Player News
Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


Texans DT Brandon Ivory arrested on burglary charge
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama and charged with first-degree burglary, according to a Tuscaloosa Police Department report obtained by SportingNews.com.

Ivory and another man were allegedly involved in a home burglary when the two entered the residence by kicking open the back door and then demanding money from the residents. The two stole money and two Ipads from the residence. Ivory and the other suspect were arrested at their apartment shortly after the incident with the stolen money and property.


 
 
 
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