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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: New York Giants

Senior Fantasy Writer
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There are plenty of times in life when change can be good, if not great. A new job or a new home can change your world. A new restaurant can make you happy. Maybe even a different way to work, which can save you a few minutes.

For NFL players, changing the voice in your ear can change your career. And that's what we're hoping for with the Giants this season.

Kevin Gilbride is gone as the offensive coordinator after a seven-year run. It was a successful stretch from 2007-13, which produced two Super Bowls, but the past two seasons have been stale. Sure, injuries played a prominent role with the Giants falling apart offensively, but they needed a new direction on offense.

Enter Ben McAdoo as the new coordinator. He spent the past eight seasons as an offensive assistant with the Packers. There's no guarantee McAdoo will dramatically improve the Giants offense, but a change was definitely needed.

We hope McAdoo can help Eli Manning the same way Marc Trestman helped Jay Cutler in Chicago and Ken Whisenhunt helped Philip Rivers in San Diego last year. Like Manning, those two quarterbacks were struggling under previous offensive coordinators, and the change in 2013 produced rebound campaigns.

If Manning plays better then that should help the entire offense, and the Giants will look different this season with free agent Rashad Jennings and rookies in Odell Beckham and Andre Williams playing prominent roles. Hakeem Nicks is gone, but the Giants won't miss the version they've had of him the past two seasons.

The best change for the Giants, at least in terms of personnel, could be along the offensive line. They added Geoff Schwartz to play left guard, and J.D. Walton should play center if he beats out rookie Weston Richburg. Chris Snee is back at right guard, and if Will Beatty can rebound at left tackle this should be a solid unit.

If the line is healthy and Manning can adjust to McAdoo's system right away, this could be a bounce-back year for the Giants in 2014.

Poised to rebound ... Eli Manning

Let's face it, Manning can't be much worse than he was in 2013. He passed for 3,818 yards, 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions on 58 percent completions, and he had just one game with more than 20 Fantasy points, which was Week 1.

He is expected to be fine coming off ankle surgery in April, and that's something to monitor. And the Giants have to hope the combination of Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle can replace Nicks, and Manning also is without tight end Brandon Myers.

But Manning still has plenty of potential, and he was a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback from 2008-11. He could easily get back to that level if he plays well in the new offense, and Beckham and Randle help him make plays.

Victor Cruz remains a standout Fantasy option and one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. And the Giants should be better as a whole on offense with an upgraded offensive line and an improved running game. Not only did they add Jennings and Williams, but David Wilson (neck) could make a full recovery.

We don't suggest drafting Manning as anything more than a low-end No. 2 Fantasy quarterback. But don't be surprised if he has a Rivers-like year as a veteran being castoff by Fantasy owners, who can easily rebound in a new system if things go his way. Someone in your league might be starting Manning frequently this year, even though no one will be expecting that on Draft Day.

Rookie to target ... Andre Williams

I'm a believer in Wilson if he's healthy, and I'm skeptical of Jennings, who is 29 and has never been a featured back for a full year. Williams is the wild card, but he has plenty of upside.

He might remind you a little of Brandon Jacobs because of his size at 6-foot, 227 pounds, and he ran well at Boston College. Last year, Williams had 355 carries for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns, so he will help the Giants if they want to be physical running the ball.

I don't consider Williams the best rookie running back -- that should be Tennessee's Bishop Sankey -- but you can argue he's No. 2 ahead of Devonta Freeman, Terrance West, Jeremy Hill, Tre Mason or Carlos Hyde. He has the opportunity to play right away, and the Giants could lean on him if Jennings fails or Wilson is out.

Your plan should be to target Williams with a late-round pick in re-draft leagues, and stash him as your No. 4 running back in standard formats. He'll probably struggle in PPR leagues, but he could easily lead the Giants in rushing touchdowns this season and maybe in Fantasy points at his position, depending on what happens with Wilson and Jennings.

Keep the faith ... Rueben Randle

2013 Touches Leaders
706 total touches
Andre Brown 159 (139 car., 20 rec.) 22.5%
Peyton Hillis 86 (73 car., 13 rec.) 12.2%
Victor Cruz 73 rec. 10.3%
Brandon Jacobs 60 (58 car., 2 rec.) 8.5%
Hakeem Nicks 56 rec. 7.9%
All Others 272 38.5%

Randle has had a roller coaster offseason so far. He looked great when Nicks left for the Colts, but then the Giants seemed down on Randle heading into the draft. It led to Beckham being drafted in the first round, which appeared to squash any sleeper appeal Randle might have.

But Randle still projects as a starter for the Giants, and he will definitely get plenty of playing time. The Giants want Cruz to stay in the slot, meaning Beckham and Randle will play outside.

And while he struggled at times in 2013, Randle is entering his third season in the NFL, which could lead to a breakout campaign. He finished last year with 41 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns, including a five-game stretch when he had at least eight Fantasy points in the middle of the season.

We hope that player shows up each week, but the addition of Beckham will be challenging. Still, with a mid- to late-round pick, Randle could provide quality rewards.

Schedule analysis

Manning's only 20-point Fantasy performance last season was Week 1 at Dallas, and he could open this season with a 20-point outing against the Lions, who are challenged in the secondary and will likely force the Giants to throw if they are chasing points. The Giants face the NFC West this season with a trip to the Seahawks in Week 10, but they also benefit with some weak opponents in their own division. Dallas should be terrible against the run with Sean Lee (ACL) out, and the Redskins joined the Cowboys in the bottom three of Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. The Eagles also allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing receivers, so the Giants could have a nice bounce-back season on offense this year.

Training camp battles

Who's the No. 2 receiver? Beckham and Randle will compete for the starting spot, but the starter is irrelevant since the Giants will use plenty of three-receiver sets. Adrien Robinson is the starter at tight end, but the Giants will rely on Cruz, Beckham and Randle to handle most of the receiving duties this year. For Fantasy owners, you should rank the receivers as Cruz, Randle and Beckham.

What's the pecking order at running back? The Giants will likely go into training camp with the depth chart as Jennings, Williams and Wilson, since Wilson still needs clearance for contact. Jennings is definitely going to start barring injury, but he could easily be replaced if he struggles. Williams could work at the goal line, and Wilson is the change-of-pace rusher. Fantasy owners should rank the running backs as Jennings, Wilson and Williams heading into training camp, and I would wait on Williams or Wilson and pass on Jennings, who will likely command a mid-round pick.

Bold prediction

The Giants are viewing Wilson as anything he can provide this year will be a bonus. And a lot has to happen for him to succeed this year. Jennings has to struggle or get hurt. Williams has to prove he's not ready for NFL carries in his rookie year or suffer the same fate as Jennings. And, most importantly, Wilson has to prove his neck is 100 percent.

We won't know Wilson's status until the start of training camp, but if he's ready to go, he has the most upside of this backfield. His speed and playmaking ability set him apart, and he would become my favorite Giants running back this season. The best part about him will be his value. Jennings will be drafted as early as Round 6, and Fantasy owners will take Williams first based on his college career. But Wilson, with a late-round flier, will be the best of the bunch if healthy.

Now that the Giants have improved their offensive line, Wilson can live up to his last year's breakout campaign, which was cut short in Week 5 when he hurt his neck. He just has to get healthy and stay on the field.

Injury report

Eli Manning (ankle), probable for start of training camp. ... David Wilson (neck), questionable for start of training camp. ... Mario Manningham (knee), questionable for start of training camp. ... Jon Beason (foot), questionable for start of season

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Player News
Andre Williams could surprise again
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/30/2014) Though I don't know that he's ready for a platoon role, believing his strong showing Week 4 at Washington happened mainly because the Giants saw fit to rest their starting running back in a blowout, rookie Andre Williams has the perfect matchup to make the most of whatever opportunities he gets Week 5 against Atlanta. The Falcons rank 28th against the run, allowing 153.5 yards per game, and have given up nine touchdowns on the ground, four more than any other team.

Even better, they've been sort of the magic elixir for running back tandems this season. Not only did the Vikings' Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon both have big games against them last week, the former rushing for 78 yards and three touchdowns and the latter rushing for 135 yards, but the Bengals' Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill both had big games against them in Week 2, the former rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown and the latter rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Of the two lead CBSSports.com Fantasy Football analysts, Jamey Eisenberg ranks Williams the highest for this week, placing him 28th among running backs, so we're talking little more than an emergency flex option in standard 12-team leagues. Still, you wouldn't be completely out of your mind to play him coming off last week's performance.


Rashad Jennings should come roaring back
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9/30/2014) After being limited to just three touches in the second half of a blowout victory Week 4 at Washington, Giants running back Rashad Jennings has a chance to get back in his Fantasy owners' good graces in Week 5. He'll be facing a Falcons defense that just gave up 241 rushing yards to the Vikings, making them 28th against the run. They've also allowed nine touchdowns on the ground, four more than any other team.

Because rookie Andre Williams performed so well in relief of Jennings last week, rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, you may be worried the two will split carries in some form or fashion going forward. While I don't think that's much of a concern -- Williams was already getting 5-10 carries a game and not doing much with them -- I'm not sure it really matters with this matchup. The Falcons have been the magic elixir for running back tandems this season. Not only did the Vikings' Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon both have big games against them last week, the former rushing for 78 yards and three touchdowns and the latter rushing for 135 yards, but the Bengals' Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill both had big games against them in Week 2, the former rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown and the latter rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank Jennings among their top six running backs for Week 5, and I agree wholeheartedly. He remains a must-start despite the disappointment of last week.


Alfred Morris running into tough matchup
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) For as good as Alfred Morris is, owning him in Fantasy can leave you disappointed at times, given the Redskins' sometimes-inconsistent usage of him. You might want to skip the headache in Week 5, with the Seahawks on the way Monday night.

Morris has been productive in each game so far, and currently ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yardage through four games. Unfortunately, he faces one of the toughest tests in the league this week. The Seahawks have yet to allow an opposing running back to score even six points this season, and their lone touchdown allowed came from little-used Packers fullback John Kuhn in Week 1. Morris has yet to face Seattle in his career, and they are unlikely to give him a very warm welcome.

Morris is nearly a must-start Fantasy option on a weekly basis, but this is one time you might want to avoid relying on him. The workload should be there, but Morris ranks outside of the top-30 for running backs in both Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard's Week 5 rankings.   


Jets add LeQuan Lewis, subtract Brandon Smith
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The Jets signed cornerback LeQuan Lewis to their practice squad and released corner Brandon Smith from the squad, reports the New York Daily News.

Panthers add Tauren Poole, Horace Miller to practice squad
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The Panthers signed running back Tauren Poole and linebacker Horace Miller to their practice squad.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins an interesting long-term prospect
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins returned from a foot injury and immediately served as a key part of the offense in Week 4. Does the rookie second-rounder have sleeper Fantasy potential moving forward?

Seferian-Jenkins was targeted on seven of quarterback Mike Glennon's 42 throws in Sunday's game, a number that left him third on the team. He brought in three of those passes, a decent number considering Glennon struggled with his accuracy all game. The fact that Glennon looked his way so often might be a good sign, since it was the pair's first game together.

After a collegiate career that saw him total 1,840 yards in three seasons, Seferian-Jenkins has a chance to become a big part of this Tampa Bay offense. However, he obviously has a lot to prove before you want to rely on him. Keep an eye on Seferian-Jenkins' play in Week 5 against the Saints, and consider adding him if he and Glennon show a good rapport. 


Lions put Montell Owens on IR
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The Lions put running back Montell Owens on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, ending his season.

LaMichael James signs with Dolphins
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Former 49ers running back LaMichael James signed with the Dolphins, reports Fox Sports. San Francisco released the oft-injured back following the season opener.

Luke Willson has a lot to prove with increased role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) The Seahawks will turn to Luke Willson to start at tight end in the coming weeks, with Zach Miller sidelined by ankle surgery. Should Fantasy owners take notice?

Miller had logged 83.5 percent of the team's snaps through three games, so Willson should be in line for a much larger role as the starter. Of course, Miller was nearly a nonfactor in the passing game so far, having been targeted just seven times. Between he and Willson, quarterback Russell Wilson has targeted tight ends just eight times on 87 attempts, after 20.6 percent of his passes went their way a year ago.

Willson might be the better pass catcher of the Seahawks tight end tandem, but we don't have much to go on here. There are better tight end options worth targeting on waivers, at least until Willson proves himself. 


Christian Ponder preparing to start
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/30/2014) Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder took the first-team reps Monday and Tuesday while rookie Teddy Bridgewater watched with an ankle injury. "I'm preparing to play, but we're hoping the best for Teddy," Ponder told reporters.

"I've talked to Teddy. He's doing everything he can to prepare and be ready to play."

Ponder has started 35 games, but none with Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. He could be under center Thursday in Green Bay. "It's a very different style of offense than what we've ran the previous three years," Ponder said. "Without Adrian [Peterson], it's different. Defenses play us differently without Adrian. I'm comfortable and fit well in it."


 
 
 
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