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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
Two key Cowboys back in action Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Both quarterback Tony Romo was back in pads and linebacker Rolando McClain returned to Cowboys practice Thursday after missing the Wednesday session. Romo is set to play Saturday against Miami in the third exhibition game. McClain had been dealing with muscle cramps.

"He has some things that have sidetracked him here for a day or two," Jason Garrett told the Dallas News about McClain. "But obviously, being out at practice playing play after play, day after day matters."


Sammy Watkins inching forward in return from rib ailment
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:05 am ET) Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins has made progress in his recovery from a minor rib injury. He participated in route-running at Thursday practicing for the first time in three days, per WGR.

Pierre Thomas bracing for, but not accepting, decreased role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) Pierre Thomas was already among the most productive pass-catchers out of the backfield in the NFL heading into this season. But the veteran Saints back sees that role increasing.

Thomas also anticipates being used more as a blocker with Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson expected to have their playing time increased. But Thomas is also not ready to give up too many reps as a runner. He rushed for 549 yards on 147 yards a year ago in a career-high nine starts while snagging 77 passes for 513 yards.

"I know my role is going to change a whole lot this year," he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I'm going to do more pass protection and route running. I'm improving my route running game. I'm stll going to be running the ball too. I've got a few changes here and there.

"...The coaches are not just going to put me down and sit me down on the side. Like I said, these guys are my friends and my teammates but they're going to have to outwork me. They're going to have to put me on the bench and that's going to be hard to do."


Da'Quan Bowers warned by coach about his absence
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:44 am ET) Buccaneers defensive tackle Da'Quan Bowers is not just nursing a groin strain, but now he must think about the warning of Lovie Smith that threatens his starting job.

"I think every day you don't practice, you're hurting your chances," Smith told the Tampa Tribune. "And we've seen enough to like Da'Quan a lot. But all the reps that he's not getting, someone else is getting them.

"The best way to beat your competition sometimes is just to stay on the field. You can't get Wally Pipp'd. Da'Quan is trying to get back, and again I think he has a future in the league, whether it be as a defensive end or a third-down rush-guy inside."

Bowers lost playing time and production in each of the last two years.


Walt Aikens out indefinitely with hand injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Dolphins rookie safety Walt Aikens is out indefinitely with a hand injury, the Miami Herald reports. He suffered the injury in practice this week and may not be ready for the start of the regular season.

Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount charged with possession
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were charged with marijuana possession Wednesday, with Bell also being charged with DUI, 93.7 The Fan reports.

Bell and Blount reportedly had 20 grams of marijuana in the car at the time of the stop, and an unidentified female with the two was also charged. All three were said to be "cooperative" with the police.


Jordan Palmer to be No. 2 quarterback Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Bears quarterback Jordan Palmer will be the first signal caller off the bench to relieve starter Jay Cutler in Friday's preseason game against the Seahawks, ESPNChicago.com reports. Jimmy Clausen served as the No. 2 QB in the last preseason game.

"Jay will work certainly into the second quarter and we'll make a decision during the second quarter what we're going to do with him," Trestman said. "That will be dependent on a number of different things. And then after that we'll have Jordan, so expect Jordan to play the third quarter and Jimmy to play the fourth. We'll continue to rotate these guys around. We've got another week after this one and that's the way we'll operate this week."

Palmer and Claussen are batting to win the primary backup spot behind Cutler.


Geno Atkins might play Sunday, good to go for season opener
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who's coming back from a torn ACL, participated in team drills Wednesday and convinced defensive coordinator Paul Guenther he's ready to play a couple series Sunday at Arizona, reports the team's website. Whether or not Atkins plays Sunday, coach Marvin Lewis said the two-time Pro Bowler "is a go" for the regular-season opener in Baltimore.

Tyrann Mathieu practices for first time since injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, who tore two knee ligaments last Dec. 8, practiced Wednesday for the first time since the injury, reports the Arizona Republic. He was limited to individual drills, but coach Bruce Arians said he's "amazed" Mathieu has come back so quickly.

Mathieu hopes to graduate to team drills in the next couple days. "There are going to be days where I get sore," Mathieu said. "I'm sure in the middle of a game, I'll get sore, I'll get tight, but I have to push through it. I think it's all about what I tell myself. I try to keep positive thoughts in my mind."


Bengals give Vontaze Burfict contract extension
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8/20/2014) The Bengals signed linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a multi-year contract extension, reports ESPN's Adam Caplan. Burfict led the NFL with 171 tackles last year.

 
 
 
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