The New York Giants had a rough go of it in 2013, as they opened the year in a daunting 0-6 hole. The team regrouped and did crawl out of that hole to get back to respectability, but they were still an overall mess, as they never established as consistent ground game and quarterback Eli Manning threw a league high 27 interceptions.
With talk of Manning’s play slipping and numerous issues on both sides of the ball, the Giants made major chantes in an effort to make a dramatic turn around for 2014. New York brought in help to patch up the secondary, let disgruntled wide receiver Hakeem Nicks go and tried to solidify the lethargic rushing attack by signing Rashad Jennings and drafting Andre Williams.
On paper, the Giants look like they’ll be better in 2014. But what about in the fantasy football realm? There’s a lot to be weary about in New York, but there’s also potentially a lot to like. Let’s break down the top fantasy weapons in New York to see if fantasy owners should be eyeing them in their August drafts:
Eli Manning (QB)
It’s entirely possible that Eli Manning isn’t good enough to be an effective NFL passer or fantasy factor anymore. At 33 years old, he surely could have hit a wall and is naturally regressing. Then again, with no help from his running game, offensive line, receivers or a predictable offense, it’s just as likely that his surroundings grew lethargic and simply took him down with them. Just about everything looks better around Manning this year, while his offense is expected to focus more on getting the ball out of his hand quicker. His accuracy should rise and his turnovers should drop, while a hopefully restored running game will also keep the balance the offense is desperate for.
Manning is at best a QB2 right now, and isn’t being drafted in most leagues thanks to his horrific 2013. He should be granted a clean slate thanks to being a solid fantasy quarterback before that, though. If you take him as your backup this year, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Rashad Jennings (RB)
Jennings is a mixed bag of fantasy goodness. On one hand, he seemed washed up and just about done with the Jaguars in 2012. On the other, he ripped off over 700 rushing yards and looked to have the skill-set of a feature back with the Raiders in 2013. The end result for 2014? Probably something in between. Jennings is 29 years old and has a history of injuries and inconsistency, but he also looked good a year ago. For the sake of New York’s sanity, hopefully he pans out. In all likelihood, he probably won’t. With that being said, Jennings is probably going to get 2014 going as New York’s top back, which gives him a ton of touches and possible production, potentially. If he can stay healthy, that has RB2 value written all over it. Considering you can get him in the fourth round, he’s probably worth the gamble.
Andre Williams (RB)
Williams can’t catch and is a shaky blocker, but he can move the pile and run straight ahead. That may give him a crack at goal-line work early on in his rookie season, which could both give him random weekly Flex value and also cut into Jennings’ upside. He stands to see a lot of work if Jennings ever goes down, but right now is nothing more than a handcuff or late-round flier.
David Wilson (RB)
Wilson hurt his neck again and some suggest his career could now be over. I’d wait on that if you’re thinking about dropping him, but obviously he can’t be drafted elsewhere until we know for sure if he’s okay. He’s going to be a risky stash no matter what, but if cleared he still has an insane skill-set that carries loads of potential. Stay tuned.
Peyton Hillis (RB)
Hillis is a plodding mass at this point in his career, but for all those people who think he’s a lock to get cut, remember this: he has good fundamentals. Hillis can still move a pile, score near the goal-line, block and catch the ball – all fairly effectively. He’s certainly nearing the end of his career, but if Wilson is done and Williams doesn’t wow the Giants, they may want that stability on the roster. With that being said, he has almost no fantasy value.
Michael Cox (RB)
Cox has some athleticism and technically carries some upside, but he’s not a big or strong back, which holds him back as a possibility on third downs. New York will probably hold onto him if they can help it, but he’s not in line for major touches in 2014. Keep him off the radar.
Victor Cruz (WR)
Cruz dealt with injuries and poor play from his supporting cast last year, taking a once top-10 fantasy talent and dropping him further down than his fantasy owners care to remember. Cruz is back and healthy this year, though, and still has that trademark speed and play-making ability to be a real difference. Still Manning’s top option, he stands a good chance to bounce back in a big way. He’s no immediate WR1, but he’s a very strong WR2 with WR1 potential.
Rueben Randle (WR)
Hakeem Nicks is gone, which has opened the door for a maturing Randle to step up as New York’s full-time #2 receiver. He has the size and ball skills to be a freak, but he’s been awfully inconsistent with his hands and routes. He’s a WR3 at best to start, but he has serious WR2 upside if all goes well.
Odell Beckham (WR)
Beckham is currently banged up and is more of a long-term option than an immediate fix, but he could also press for serious playing time if Randle falters. If healthy, he should operate as the team’s #3 wide receiver and he has the upside to do some damage as a rookie. For now, he’s barely worth a late-round flier, though.
Jerrell Jernigan (WR)
Jernigan went on a nice little tear to end last season, but doesn’t seem to be getting any guarantees for 2014 when it comes to a concrete role. He lacks size and strength, which could pigeon hole him into slot and special teams work. He still would have upside if thrust into action, but logic suggests he’s below Beckham.
Mario Manningham (WR)
Manningham is worth mentioning due to his chemistry with Manning and years spent in New York, but he’s a shell of his former self. He isn’t even a lock to make the team.
Adrian Robinson (TE)
Robinson doesn’t even necessarily head the many bodies at tight end in New York, but he’s the best talent they have. Veteran pass-catcher Daniel Fells could also factor into the mix, while the same can be said for Larry Donnell and Kellen Davis. Robinson is the only one who is physically exciting, though, although injuries and inconsistency have kept him off the radar to this point. How he fares in preseason play will go a long way in deciding whether or not he’ll bust out in 2014. It’s looking to be unlikely.
Josh Brown (K)
Brown went as the Giants went last year, but he actually was pretty solid, connecting on 23-of-26 field goals and banging in all 31 extra point attempts. He’s aging, but he’s still accurate and can hit the deep ball. Until we see the G-Men are indeed back, though, he’s probably a kicker to refrain from using.
New York Giants DEF/ST
New York has good coaching and some real talent from top to bottom, so they are always going to be in the mix for use in fantasy football. They completely rebuilt their secondary in free agency this year and still have a pretty deep pass rush rotation. They’re not going to be a top-five unit, but they have enough grease here to squeak into the top-10 when it’s all said and done. If you simply stream team defenses, they’re not a bad start.