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2011 Team Report: New York Giants

Quarterbacks

Starter: Eli Manning
Backup(s): David Carr

Starting QB: It wasn't long ago that Eli Manning was considered a good NFL QB that had limited fantasy upside because of the conservative nature of the Giants offense. Even after his first 4,000-yard season in 2009, many fantasy owners avoided Manning thinking the Giants would go back to a more run heavy attack in 2010. So much for preseason proclamations, as Manning has another prolific season last year on his way to a 9th place fantasy finish. Optimists will point to Manning's career highs in completions (339), completion rate (62.9%), and TD passes (31). Pessimists will point to the league-leading 25 interceptions thrown. The truth lies somewhere in between. One thing is clear, Manning is a proven veteran and fully in command of an offense that will return largely intact. Back to back 4,000-yard seasons with 58 TDs passes makes him a highly coveted fantasy commodity, even if your league penalizes you for turnovers.

Backup QB: David Carr returns for his second stint as Eli Manning's backup. Sage Rosenfels was placed on injured reserve, which means Carr will definitely take over the huddle should the team's franchise player get hurt. Carr is well known for his struggles as a tackling dummy in Houston, but has shown a keen grasp of OC Kevin Gilbride's system and may be a suitable fill in for a few weeks if push comes to shove.

Running Backs

Starter: Ahmad Bradshaw
Backup(s): Brandon Jacobs, Danny Ware, Da'Rel Scott [R]
Fullback(s): Henry Hynoski

Starting RB: In spite of periods of inconsistency, at the end of the year the Giants running game went exactly as they hoped. The team ran for 2,200 yards (6th best), averaged 4.6 yards per rush (7th best) and scored 17 TDs (6th best). Leading the pack was Ahmad Bradshaw, who answered his critics and proved he was more than capable of being a lead back. Bradshaw ran for 1,235 yards on 276 carries and scored a career high 8 TDs. On top of that, he caught 47 receptions for 314 yards. Simply put, Bradshaw emerged as a versatile, all purpose offensive weapon. In spite of being granted free agency under the new CBA, Bradshaw ended up staying in New York with a new 4-year deal.

Backup RBs: Brandon Jacobs was on tenuous ground entering the 2010 campaign, openly questioning his role and future with the team as the Giants promised to elevate Ahmad Bradshaw to the primary role. In spite of those early questions, Jacobs settled into his complementary role and thrived. On the surface, one might look at his 823 yards rushing and think it was a repeat of his 2009 disappointment (835 yards), but a closer look tells a different story. Jacobs nearly doubled his TD output (from 5 to 9) and raised his per carry average substantially (from 3.7 to 5.6), and did it all with 80 fewer carries. 2011 sets up for a similar outcome, with Jacobs being the change of pace finisher who could easily step into a workhorse role if Bradshaw gets hurt. The 3rd RB slot is set to be a fierce competition between Danny Ware and rookie Da'Rel Scott all season long.

Fullback: The fullback position is in flux, as the Giants parted ways with Madison Hedgecock. Bear Pascoe, a converted tight end, played a lot in Hedgecock's stead last year but is now back to playing tight end after the loss of Kevin Boss in free agency. The leader in the clubhouse is Henry "Hynocerous" Hynoski -- a self-professed battering ram -- who signed as an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh. Hynoski is 260 pounds and a throwback to bygone days.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks
Backups: Victor Cruz, Jerrel Jernigan [R], Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Devin Thomas

Starting WRs: The Giants were beset by injuries last year, so much so that at one point the team had to start Derek Hagan and give reps to the likes of Duke Calhoun and Michael Clayton. This year, if things go according to plan, the Giants will have their two best receivers -- Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham at full strength. Hakeem Nicks emerged in his second year as an elite playmaker, and notched 79 catches for 1,052 yards with 11 touchdowns in 12 starts. Nicks is healthy and has been working out, so he should be in line to build off his breakout 2nd year. The sky is the limit for Nicks, who has no real flaws in his game. Mario Manningham was the only Giants WR to appear in all 16 games (starting 8) last year. He fell just shy of a 1,000 yards, but averaged an impressive 15.7 yards per catch and reeled in 9 touchdowns in spite of not being a full-time starter. With Steve Smith signing in Philadelphia, the sky is the limit for Manningham this year.

Backup WRs: The rest of the backups are shaking themselves out in training camp, but expect rookie 3rd rounder Jerrel Jernigan to secure one of the spots. Jernigan is a small school player with blazing straight line speed, but projects as a pure slot player in the NFL. Domenik Hixon -- by virtue of his experience -- has been running as the #3 for most of camp. His upside is limited, but Eli Manning and the coaches trust him in crunch time. The real dark horse is Victor Cruz. Cruz wowed in the preseason last year, but got hurt and was shelved for most of the season. He's once again off to a great start in camp, and could overtake Jernigan and Ramses Barden for the 4th spot if he can keep up his current pace.

Tight Ends

Starters: Travis Beckum
Backups: Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe

The Giants were thought to be set to re-sign Kevin Boss, their long-time starter. But Boss signed with Oakland leaving the team with Travis Beckum as the starter. Beckum hasn't delivered on the promise he showed at the University of Wisconson yet, but will get every opportunity this year. He was a poor blocker in limited reps last year, something he will have to improve as Boss was vital to the Giants running game.

Place Kicker

Lawrence Tynes : As a rookie, Matt Dodge had a tumultuous 2010, resulting in a fair amount of scrutiny from fans, the media, and his coach. This August he faces competition for his job from veteran Steve Weatherford, a free agent pickup from the Jets. The winner will serve as the holder between kicker Lawrence Tynes and long snapper Zac DeOssie. Tynes is coming off a year in which his numbers hovered around his career averages. The Giants numbers however dropped, as they ranked 24th in kicker scoring opportunities after having been in the top five the two previous years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan

Punt Returners: Jerrel Jernigan, Domenik Hixon

The Giants return game is once again a question mark. WR Domenik Hixon missed all last year due to ACL injury. Is he fully recovered and how willing are the Giants to now use him on returns? Rookie WR Jerrel Jernigan is probably the frontrunner for the job, however his return numbers in the preseason opener were mediocre at best... although observers suggest that he no chance due to poor blocking up front. Another rookie possibility is RB Da'Rel Scott. A handful of other players have return experience, including CB Aaron Ross, WR Mario Manningham, RB D.J. Ware, and WR Devin Thomas.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT William Beatty, LG David Diehl, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzie
Key Backups: OT James Brewer [R], G Kevin Boothe, G Mitch Petrus, Stacy Andrews

The Giants made major changes on an aging, but effective, offensive line. Partly driven by cap constraints, New York finds itself with new starters at three positions. Will Beatty is being handed the LT position while long-time tackle David Diehl is moving inside where his technique and toughness can still be an asset -- he no longer has the lateral quickness to be a plus tackle. The Giants signed David Baas away from the 49ers to man the center spot, an upgrade over Shaun O'Hara. The right side of Snee and McKenzie remains stable.

Team Defense

The strength of the Giants defense remains the defensive line, which boasts Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph and Chris Canty. Mathias Kiwanuka has been moved back to OLB -- which is a work in progress but has immensely high reward if he pans out. Michael Boley and Kenny Phillips appear ready to return to form after disappointing 2010 campaigns. The secondary remains a major question mark as rookie 1st rounder CB Prince Amukamara is injured, and starting CB Terrell Thomas is lost for the season. Aaron Ross and Corey Webster will need to be pillars on the island, although the Giants plan to use starting FS Antrel Rolle as the nickel back to help ameliorate the concerns at corner.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Justin Tuck, DE Osi Umenyiora, DT Chris Canty, NT Linval Joseph
Backups: DE/SLB Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Dave Tollefson, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Jimmy Kennedy

Starting DL: The Giants have more depth at the defensive end position than any other team in the NFL. Justin Tuck is arguably one of the top 5 pass-rushing defensive ends in the league and Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka are Pro Bowl-caliber players in their own right. Add in an explosive, young talent like Jason Pierre-Paul and you have a very formidable defensive line. The veteran Chris Canty and 2nd year talent Linval Joseph do a solid job of manning the inside thus freeing up the ends to do their damage on the quarterback. Umenyiora will likely be out the first couple games of the regular season as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. With this being said, it's likely to be Tuck receiving a majority of the snaps on the strong side with Jason Pierre-Paul on the weak side end position. It looks as though Kiwanuka is going to play SLB in base packages and slide down into an end role on 3rd down passing situations. Obviously, the player to own first on this line is Justin Tuck. Pierre-Paul could wind up being on of the top breakout players at his position, however.

Backup DL: It's important in this specific case to use to the term "backup" loosely as the Giants rotate their linemen quite often and backups can receive close to the same amount of playing time as starters. At this specific point in time, it's hard to tell who will do a majority of the rotating on the defensive line with the uncertainty of Osi Umenyiora's "holdout." Once we delve further into training camp and the pre-season, this situation should become more clear.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Jonathan Goff, WLB Michael Boley, SLB Mathias Kiwanuka
Backups: MLB Greg Jones [R], OLB Jacquian Williams [R], OLB Mark Herzlich, OLB Spencer Paysinger

Starting LBs: The "G-Men" haven't had a standout fantasy season from a linebacker since MLB Antonio Pierce put up 106 solo tackles way back in 2006. Even though most expected the Giants to take a linebacker with an early pick the last couple of years, Jerry Reese has instead decided to wait until later rounds to draft value picks such as MLB Greg Jones. Incumbent Jonathan Goff held onto the MLB position with a strong camp. None of the above mentioned players really holds much value in fantasy leagues and the MLB position in New York is likely to remain a fantasy wasteland for at least another season. Michael Boley was an every-down linebacker last season for the Giants and is shaping up to fill that role again this year. Boley has shown flashes of LB2 potential at times with the Giants. Much of Boley's value depends on how often the Giants deploy sub-packages such as "Big Base," "NASCAR," and Dime packages that often times leave Boley as the sole linebacker on the field. For draft purposes, Boley's production is too inconsistent from week to week to be a good selection in most leagues. Keep an eye on the waiver wire and be ready to pounce if he shows signs of his 2009 type of production. Mathias Kiwanuka will be the starting SLB in base packages with Sintim seeing some playing time in passing situations. Sintim is coming off ACL surgery and didn't put up anything significant in the box scores pre-injury. If Kiwanuka ends up receiving significant playing time in a hybrid SLB/DE role and stays classified as a DE in your league, he becomes a solid value pick in later rounds.

Backup LBs: Due to the general weak set of starting linebackers the Giants currently have rostered, there are a few linebackers on the bench who could eventually make the leap to at least a two-down role. Rookie Greg Jones has the best chance of usurping Jonathan Goff from his starting role. Jones is a player in particular for owners to watch on the waiver wire as he could have some value if the Giants give him a chance to start. South Florida product Jacquain Williams was one of the few reaches in this years draft for the Giants and isn't much more than depth at a shallow position for New York.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Corey Webster, CB Aaron Ross, FS Antrel Rolle, SS Kenny Phillips
Backups: CB Prince Amukamara [inj], S Tyler Sash [R], CB Michael Coe, CB Brian Witherspoon, S Deon Grant

Starting DBs: The signing of Antrel Rolle, the return of Kenny Phillips, and the outstanding play of Terrell Thomas helped the Giants secondary to a top 10 finish in yards allowed per game. Terrell Thomas was lost for the year after tearing an ACL in preseason. With Prince Amukumara also out with an injury, typical nickel cornerback Aaron Ross will have to jump into starting duties. Corey Webster is a decent talent opposite of Ross but doesn't put up the box score numbers to warrant draft consideration in fantasy leagues. Antrel Rolle proved to the Giants that he was worth the big off-season contract. He had an above average year from a tackle perspective and now with a healthy Kenny Phillips to come up and stop the run, Rolle will have more freedom to roam the secondary and do what he does best, make big plays. Phillips is perhaps the most talented player in the Giants secondary and according to Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell, he is going to have an expanded role in the defense this season as his arthritic knee seems to have healed well. Phillips could put up DB2-type numbers for owners that are willing to take a chance in him late in fantasy drafts.

Backup DBs: The Iowa native, Tyler Sash, doesn't fill an immediate need for the Giants but has the talent to eventually become a significant contributor in their secondary. He may be one to keep your eye on in those deepest of dynasty leagues.

Last modified: 2011-09-05 15:11:36

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