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Offseason Primers: New York Giants

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Giants might have had a Super Bowl hangover in 2012. At least that's an excuse they can use for a down season.

After winning Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots to end the 2011 season, the Giants fell apart. They finished 9-7 but failed to make the playoffs, and their key players really struggled.

Eli Manning was miserable for most of the season. Ahmad Bradshaw was inconsistent and lost a ton of Fantasy production to Andre Brown. Hakeem Nicks was hurt again. And rookie phenom David Wilson failed to get on the field early in the season.

2012 Touches Leaders
732 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Ahmad Bradshaw 244 (221 car., 23 rec.) 33.3%
Victor Cruz 86 rec. 11.7%
Andre Brown 85 (73 car., 12 rec.) 11.6%
David Wilson 75 (71 car., 4 rec.) 10.2%
Martellus Bennett 55 rec. 7.5%
All Others 187 25.5%

Only Victor Cruz and Martellus Bennett played well, and now Bennett is gone as a free agent to Chicago. He is being replaced by Brandon Myers, and the Giants should have a different look this season.

Manning is poised for a rebound year, especially if Nicks returns at 100 percent. And the Giants will replace Bradshaw, who was released, with a combination of Wilson and Brown. Cruz is back to lead the receiving corps, and we hope Myers can replicate his performance with the Raiders last season in New York.

We expect the Giants to play better in 2013 than they did last year because they're too talented to struggle again. And if that happens as expected then you can count on the Giants' offense to help Fantasy owners just as they have in the past.

Eli Manning -- Bounce-back candidate

2012 Target Leaders
539 pass attempts
Victor Cruz 143 26.5%
Hakeem Nicks 100 18.5%
Martellus Bennett 90 16.7%
Domenik Hixon 59 10.9%
Rueben Randle 32 5.9%
All Others 115 21.3%

Manning's final stats in 2012 were respectable but misleading. He finished the year with 3,948 yards, 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, which gave him 276 Fantasy points in a standard league. But Manning needed 208 passing yards and five touchdowns -- 38 Fantasy points -- in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Eagles to save his production. Without that game, Manning would have been the No. 22 Fantasy quarterback compared to where he actually finished at No. 14. He was brutal for most of the season (he had four games with five Fantasy points or less), and we hope a rebound year is in order. Getting Nicks back at 100 percent will help, and the Giants need to hope Rueben Randle can become a viable third receiver all season and that Myers can continue to play at a high level. Prior to last year, Manning had consecutive seasons of at least 4,000 passing yards and 30 total touchdowns. It won't take him much to get back to that level, and he actually presents great value since he'll fall to a mid- to late-round pick in most leagues. We love getting Manning as a low-end starter or high-end backup, and he should bounce back in 2013.

David Wilson -- Breakout

The Giants showed how much they are committed to Wilson this offseason when they cut Bradshaw. That left the running back position to Wilson and Brown splitting carries, with Wilson the expected starter. He was drafted in the first round last year out of Virginia Tech but struggled to get on the field at running back for most of the season, mostly because of his lack of pass blocking. But he displayed his talents as the year went on, including a big game in Week 14 against New Orleans when he had 13 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He closed the season with 49 Fantasy points in his final four games, and he should have the chance for a big season. Brown will take on the short-yardage work, limiting Wilson's touchdowns, but he has 1,500 total-yard potential, and we love his upside with Bradshaw gone. He's worth drafting as early as Round 4 in the majority of leagues. As for Brown, he could reach double digits in touchdowns, and he's a nice sleeper with a mid-round pick.

Hakeem Nicks -- Injury-risk sleeper

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Eli Manning 94-100 overall
David Wilson 34-42 overall
Andre Brown 55-62 overall
Victor Cruz 35-43 overall
Hakeem Nicks 65-72 overall
Brandon Myers Undrafted

Nicks is out to prove that he's still among the best receivers in the NFL after an injury-plagued year in 2012. Nicks appeared in 13 games last season, but his leg injuries were problematic. He was limited to 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns, with his yards and touchdowns new career lows. If Nicks is able to take part in training camp without any problems then he could easily return as a Top 20 Fantasy receiver. Keep in mind prior to last year he had consecutive seasons of at least 76 catches, 1,050 yards and seven touchdowns with 18 total touchdowns over that span. But if he continues to be limited by knee and foot problems then his value will continue to drop. We'd still take a chance on Nicks with a mid-round pick, and hopefully he can rebound to play like an elite Fantasy receiver once again.

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

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Player News
QB struggles begin to impact Cardinals DST
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:13 am ET) The Cardinals DST scored just one Fantasy point in standard CBSSports.com leagues Week 16 against Seattle, interrupting a stretch of 10 games in which it averaged 15.1, and the Cardinals' offensive woes may have had something to do with it.

Specifically, they've been unable to find a decent quarterback since losing Carson Palmer to injury in Week 10. Backup Drew Stanton at least mounted some kind of threat, but with him sidelined by a sprained knee in Week 16, the Cardinals had to turn to third-stringer Ryan Lindley. He turned the ball over twice without once leading his team into the end zone, completing less than half of his passes in the process.

The quick trips back to the sideline gave the Seahawks more chances to pile up points and yards, and they did, finishing with 35 and 596. Only one other time have the Cardinals allowed more than 30 points in a game, and the 596 yards were a season high. Worse yet, they were lacking in big plays, recording one sack with no takeaways.

Fortunately, the Cardinals will take on a struggling 49ers offense in Week 17, so even if Lindley is back under center, the DST at least has a chance of a respectable performance. Still, if you've been relying on it all season, you might want to make sure there isn't an appealing matchups play on the waiver wire.


Seahawks DST can't be stopped
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:04 am ET) The Seahawks DST had another dominant performance Week 16 at Arizona, continuing a nine-week run that has made it once again arguably the top unit in Fantasy. During that stretch, it has averaged 16.2 Fantasy points, allowing 11.9 points on 231.3 yards.

It allowed only six points on 216 yards in Week 16, recording four sacks and one interception. Of the Seahawks' 33 sacks this season, 20 have come in their last five games.

Clearly, they had a favorable matchup in this one, but they also shut down the Eagles in Week 14. You don't have any reason to shy away from the Seahawks DST against St. Louis in Week 17.


Kenbrell Thompkins comes out of nowhere
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:58 am ET) After making only modest contributions since coming over from the Patriots in Week 6, Raiders wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins suddenly emerged as quarterback Derek Carr's favorite target Week 16 against Buffalo, catching five passes for 90 yards. He hadn't caught even one pass since Week 13, and his previous high in yardage was 47.

Of course, you should know how this goes by now. Fellow wide receivers James Jones and Andre Holmes have both had their stretches of Fantasy relevance this season, as has tight end Mychal Rivera. The Raiders have a multitude of viable receiving targets, but their roles aren't so clear, which makes the task of picking the most impactful from week to week next to impossible.

In other words, you'd need to play in an especially deep league to take a flier on Thompkins for the season's final week.


Latavius Murray trustworthy up to a point
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:51 am ET) If his 23 carries Week 14 against San Francisco didn't convince you, Latavius Murray's 23 carries Week 16 against Buffalo should make the message loud and clear: He is the Raiders' top running back, and they're putting more faith in him than they ever did Darren McFadden.

Granted, it hasn't translated to much production yet, but the 49ers and Bills are two of the toughest defenses against the run. Unfortunately, Denver, the Raiders' Week 17 opponent, is ranked even higher at both.

Can you trust Murray to get his carries? He's gotten them two of the last three weeks, so most likely, yes. And with 20-plus chances, there's always the chance he breaks a long one. But the matchup will make it difficult.

You'd like to start him given his ever-increasing role, but you shouldn't force him into your lineup if you have two (or maybe three) respectable running backs already.


One way or another, Fred Jackson gets his
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:44 am ET) Trailing early Week 16 at Oakland with their playoff hopes on the line, the Bills didn't stick with the running game for long, attempting only three runs in the second half. But in a way, that worked to running back Fred Jackson's advantage. He's such a good pass-catcher out of the backfield that he still topped 100 total yards, doing so for the first time since returning from a groin injury in Week 12.

Even with the return of C.J. Spiller from a long-term shoulder injury, Jackson still led the Bills in carries, but with only six for 10 yards. He also led the team in catches with nine for 93 yards. He had 10 catches just two weeks ago, so clearly, he's a PPR stud.

Is he worth starting in standard leagues as well? Well, he's also gotten 20 carries twice in five games since returning. He hasn't been as effective on the ground as through the air, but yards are yards, however he gets them.

Their matchup Week 17 at New England will probably force the Bills to go pass-heavy again, so unless you're stacked at running back, you can find a spot for Jackson in your lineup.


Desperation fuels Kyle Orton's performance
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:35 am ET) Bills quarterback Kyle Orton didn't have the most efficient day throwing the ball Week 16 at Oakland, but from a Fantasy perspective, it was a productive one. He threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns but also had two interceptions.

What's crazy, though, is that 196 of those yards came in the second half. The Bills were trailing a winnable game with their playoff hopes on the line, and their desperation showed. Unfortunately, that desperation also contributed to the second of Orton's interceptions.

The Bills have been eliminated, so no matter how much they're trailing Week 17 at New England, they probably won't be quite as desperate. You can expect more typical numbers from Orton -- maybe about 250 yards with one or two scores -- even if the matchup appears to be a favorable one, making him a player better left for two-quarterback leagues.


Kenny Britt clearly better with Shaun Hill
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:27 am ET) Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt caught a season-high nine passes on a season-high 11 targets Week 16 against the Giants, but his 103 receiving yards actually weren't a season high.

That's because he had 128, along with a touchdown, Week 11 against the Broncos.

That was Shaun Hill's first game back under center. Week 16, obviously, was his latest one. In the six games since Hill reclaimed the role, Britt has averaged 3.8 catches for 66.3 yards. In the nine games before then, he averaged 2.3 catches for 34.7 yards.

Britt has been especially good lately, averaging 73.3 yards in his last three games. Hill has also been fond of Stedman Bailey, but he doesn't seem to have a clear preference for one or the other.

Of course, the Rams passing attack isn't prolific enough to sustain both, so if you're going to target Britt or Bailey off the waiver wire, make sure it's in a deeper league. You wouldn't want to roll the dice on either in the season's final week if you can help it.


Andre Williams showing more ability
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:19 am ET) Carrying the load for the third straight game with Rashad Jennings sidelined by an ankle injury Week 16 at St. Louis, Giants rookie running back Andre Williams delivered his second 100-yard effort during that stretch, picking up 110 yards on 26 carries. Of course, just like in Week 14, it wasn't the steadiest performance. He had a 50-yard run in that one en route to a career-best 131 yards. He had a 45-yard run en route to his 110 yards in this one.

But that's true for most 100-yard rushing performances. The best backs break long runs occasionally, which makes up for all the 2- and 3-yard gains in between. It's easy to discount Williams' performance because of a long run here or a long run there because he's been so bad on a per-carry basis this season (take that 45-yard run away, and he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry -- oh noes!), but the fact is those long runs count, too. And he barreled over a couple of tacklers to complete it, which was nice to see.

Because Williams is short on receiving ability, his numbers don't look so great when he doesn't break a long run, but with all the carries he's getting now, his chances are better than not of breaking one. He's worth starting in standard leagues Week 17 against Philadelphia.


Rueben Randle not overshadowed for once
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:08 am ET) Since the emergence of rookie Odell Beckham in Week 9, and especially since his even bigger emergence in Week 12, wide receiver Rueben Randle has been an afterthought in the Giants passing game, averaging 2.3 catches for 31.8 yards in the four games leading up to Week 16 at St. Louis. But quarterback Eli Manning finally had enough yards to go around in that one, delivering Beckham his usual eight grabs for 148 yards and still finding Randle on six passes for 132 yards.

Randle even caught a touchdown pass, his first since Week 5. Of course, Beckham caught two and is now up to eight in his last five games, averaging 9.6 catches for 131.4 yards during that stretch.

You see the problem here, don't you? Manning was able to sustain both Beckham and Randle in this one, but that's only because he threw for a season-high 391 yards. If he regresses to a more modest total Week 17 against Philadelphia, we all know Randle is the one taking a back seat. Beckham has other-worldly talent, and Manning is smart enough to deliver him the ball as often as possible.

Of course, the Giants will probably have to throw a lot to keep pace with the Eagles, which bodes well for Randle, but you should still treat him as no more than a No. 3 wide receiver in Fantasy.


Odell Beckham making Eli Manning a stud
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:58 am ET) Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham had another eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns Week 16 at St. Louis, which has become par for the course for him. It was his second straight game and third game in five with more than 140 receiving yards and multiple scores.

What you may not have noticed, though, is that quarterback Eli Manning has taken off during that same stretch. He had a season-high 391 yards and three touchdowns in Week 16, completing 25 of 32 passes. Over his last five games, he has averaged 297.2 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

It stands to reason, of course. Beckham couldn't be putting up all those numbers without someone throwing him the ball. This may be one of those rare cases of the wide receiver making the quarterback as opposed to the other way around. Beckham is clearly a special talent, and Manning has made a point to deliver him the ball as often as possible.

It's reason enough to give Manning another chance Week 17 against Philadelphia if you've been suffering with Matthew Stafford or Colin Kaepernick and are somehow still alive in spite of it.


 
 
 
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