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2016 Team Report: New York Giants

Quarterbacks

Starter: Eli Manning
Backup(s): Ryan Nassib

Starting QB: Ben McAdoo elevated the Giants offense and in the process became Tom Coughlin's successor. With McAdoo now at the helm of the entire team, expect a total commitment to the wide open, aggressive passing attack that led to Eli Manning' monstrous 2015 season. Manning set career marks for completions (387), attempts (618), yards (4,436), touchdowns (35), TD rate (5.7%), passer rating (93.6) and TD/INT differential (+21). With most of his supporting cast back, and an improved offensive line, it's reasonable to expect another top level campaign. Manning's ability to improve this late in his career is a testament to his work ethic and desire to win. Add to that the fact he's never missed a game in 11 seasons, and it's hard not to like Manning on draft day.

Backup QB: Ryan Nassib happens to play behind an iron man, so it stands to reason he's not going to get many opportunities to show off his considerable skill set. In two seasons Nassib has completed nine of ten passes for 128 yards and a touchdown -- hardly a lengthy resume. Yet, the Giants are comfortable with Nassib as the backup based on what they've seen in the preseason and throughout the season in practice. Nassib is a mobile, strong armed passer well suited to the downfield requirements of Ben McAdoo's system.

Running Backs

Starter: Rashad Jennings
Backup(s): Shane Vereen, Paul Perkins [R], Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: Rashad Jennings stayed healthy in 2016 for the first time in his career, and garnered a career-best 195 carries for 863 yards. At 31 years old, Jennings' days as a starter may be numbered, but his performance last year earns him the first shot at the lead role entering this season. The question is how large is the 'lead role' in New York? Jennings got 49% of the carries last year -- 16th among qualified runners. RB Coach Craig Johnson has expressed a desire to tighten the committee and have one lead back -- if that pans out, Jennings is an undervalued asset.

Backup RBs: Shane Vereen stepped into the Giants lineup and delivered a season reminiscent of what we saw in four years with New England. He's going to be counted on for the occasional series as a runner, but he earns his keep as a receiver out of the backfield. Vereen is also a capable blocker, which ensures he'll remain an important part of the game plan even if rookie Paul Perkins impresses. Perkins jumps to the NFL from UCLA, and is a well rounded back that is good at most things, but not great at any. Orleans Darkwa is the real surprise of the preseason, he outplayed everyone other than Jennings and enters the season as the team's #2.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard [R]
Backups: Victor Cruz, Dwayne Harris, Roger Lewis, Tavarres King

Starting WRs: Odell Beckham followed up his historic rookie season with an even better second year. He's unquestionably one of the best receivers in the NFL, and will remain the focal point of Ben McAdoo's passing offense. Beckham has no discernible hole in his game, and showed last year that he can routinely beat double teams and shifts. Sterling Shepard wasn't drafted as Victor Cruz insurance, he was drafted to contribute immediately with or without Cruz in the lineup. Ben McAdoo understands that his team's best chance of success is to give Eli Manning a treasure trove of offensive targets. Early camp practices point to the former Oklahoma Sooner as the starter opposite Beckham regardless of Cruz' health.

Backup WRs: Victor Cruz has missed 26 games in the last two seasons, is back practicing with the team and showing no ill effects from his torn patellar tendon. He would give the Giants one of the best slot receivers in the league. Dwayne Harris is a competent slot receiver that can help move the chains. The real story is Tavarres King -- who made the roster with an impressive preseason after bouncing around the league for years.

Tight Ends

Starters: Larry Donnell, Will Tye
Backups: Jerell Adams [R]

Larry Donnell was outplayed by Will Tye last year, but he's returned from injury to look solid in the preseason. He enters the year with the staritng job. That said, Tye is the better athlete and has higher upside. The Giants added explosive athlete Jerell Adams in the 6th round of the draft. Adams is raw as a route runner and blocker, so expect his role to be limited for a season or two.

Place Kicker

Josh Brown, Tom Obarski: The Giants were happy enough with Josh Brown's performance to sign him to a two-year contract this offseason. He will remain the starter, coming off of his second 90+% accuracy performance on field goals. Brown was fifth in the league in scoring and has earned a draftable grade in fantasy drafts, but you shouldn't take him unless you're in the last round of your draft. Tom Obarski was brought in as a second leg, but Brown is the clear starter unless he has a ton of camp/preseason lapses like he did in one October game last year. Brown had a kickoff go out of bounds and missed an extra point, prompting the Giants to try out kickers, but nothing came of it. Obarski had a strong camp with the Bengals last year and could get a look from a team having kicker troubles if he has a good camp.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Dwayne Harris, Shane Vereen

The Giants are one of the teams that likes to use a return specialist, and that return specialist is Dwayne Harris. Shane Vereen usually lines up deep with him on kickoffs and will likely field a smaller share of New York's opportunities, as well.

Punt Returners: Dwayne Harris, Bobby Rainey

A return specialist and part-time receiver, Dwayne Harris handles the bulk of New York's punt returns. If Harris needs a breather, Bobby Rainey is listed second on the depth chart.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, RT Marshall Newhouse
Key Backups: Bobby Hart, Byron Stingily, Adam Gettis

The Giants' offensive line is strong along the left side, where Ereck Flowers enters his second year at left tackle. Flowers had his ups and downs but is at least a decent starter at the key position, with upside to improve over time. Left guard Justin Pugh was often forced into tackle duty due to injuries at other spots, but the team believes he can be an elite player at guard. Center Weston Richburg is quietly one of the better pivot men in the league and even made second team All-Pro according to one media source. The problems are on the right side, where right guard John Jerry and right tackle Marshall Newhouse have starter ability but play like backups. The team could have another option in Bobby Hart, who filled in capably at right tackle for several games last season. Adam Gettis could compete with Jerry. But overall this line is mediocre to bad, primarily because of the weakness on their right side. Tier Ranking: Low Tier.

Team Defense

The Giants did not have an extraordinary number of interceptions or fumble recoveries, and they were third from the bottom of the league in sacks after Jason Pierre-Paul's fireworks incident delayed the start of his season and limited his use of one of his hands. They were still a top 10 D/ST because of four defensive scores and two return scores by Dwayne Harris. Pierre-Paul is back and should be better this season, and he'll be joined by free agent pickup Olivier Vernon on the other side. Damon Harrison will help stiffen a soft bottom 10 run defense, and Janoris Jenkins was also added in a free agency spending spree that had a clear emphasis on defense. The defense still has huge holes at linebacker and safety, so there will be ups and downs, but a possible regression in defensive/special teams scores could be mitigated by an overall improvement on defense.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Olivier Vernon, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Damon Harrison, DT Johnathan Hankins
Backups: DE Kerry Wynn, DE Owa Odighizuwa, DE Stansly Maponga, DE Mike Rose [R], DT Jay Bromley, DT Montori Hughes, DT Louis Nix

Starting DL: The Olivier Vernon signing should help improve a pass rush that was 3rd to last in the league in sacks with just 23. He was Pro Football Focus' number one overall 4-3 end last season, recording 81 combined sacks, hits, and hurries and also was top notch in run defense. Having a healthier Jason Pierre-Paul returning should bolster the defensive line play as well. He may never return to the elite numbers he once generated, but he still possesses above average quickness and closing speed and is an asset in run defense. The signing of Vernon garnered a majority of the media attention this off-season, but the Giants also brought in former Jet Damon Harrison to help solidify the interior of the line. Harrison isn't a household name but has posted ~60 total tackles in each of his three seasons in the league and will be a significant upgrade at the position for New York. Jonathan Hankins fills out the starting defensive front and will look to rebound after a poor 2015 season in which his numbers were significantly down year over year. Reports are that he is fully recovered from a torn pectoral muscle suffered midway through last season. The general improvement across the defensive front should help improve his 2016 numbers.

Backup DL: The injury to Jason Pierre-Paul allowed second year player Kerry Wynn to receive ample playing time during the first half of the season. His play was particularly strong against the run early on, but he failed to contribute much in pass rush as witnessed by his zero sacks during the year. He will slide into an early down rotational role at left defensive end. Owa Odighizuwa had a lot of pass rushing upside coming out of the 2015 draft. Due to his injury history, he was viewed as a risky selection. Unfortunately, injuries continued to plague him in his rookie season where he only managed to play 126 snaps over four games. He was already raw coming out of college and due to the missed playing time last year, Odighizuwa will likely need another year of development before making any type of serious impact on the field. Outside of Kerry Wynn, Jay Bromley is the Giants most experienced backup on the line and will serve as rotational depth along the interior. The rest of the lineman are mainly undrafted free agents or players who were claimed off practice squads/waivers from other teams. They will serve as deep reserve depth and none of them are likely to factor into many games come in 2016.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Jasper Brinkley, SLB Devon Kennard, WLB Jonathan Casillas
Backups: MLB Keenan Robinson, MLB Kelvin Sheppard, MLB James Morris, SLB Mark Herzlich, LB B.J. Goodson [R], WLB J.T. Thomas, LB Nico Johnson

Starting LBs: The Giants have fielded one of the weakest linebacking cores over the last several seasons. They once again failed to address this deficiency during the off-season, instead focusing on improving other areas of the defense. The team brought in division rival Keenan Robinson to help man the middle of the defense. He was an early favorite to start at MLB given his $2.6 million contract but Jasper Brinkley ran as the first string linebacker middle linebacker during the Spring and current projects as the starter over Robinson. Devon Kennard has flashed play-making ability when on the field, but injury issues and inconsistency at the other linebacker positions have mitigated his growth. He's reportedly changed up his off-season training routine in an effort to avoid some of the injury issues that plagued him in 2015. He will look to take another step forward heading into his third season. Jonathan Casillas nearly tripled his historical average tackle totals last year and led all Giants' linebackers in snaps played but has been a meddling, journeyman-type player throughout his career. His experience with the scheme may gives him a leg up over Kelvin Sheppard for the starting weak side linebacker role, however. Last year the defense was in the bottom quarter of the league in rushing yards and touchdowns allowed. With minimal improvement (if any) within this unit, it's not looking like the team will improve drastically in that regard heading into 2016. And seeing as none of the linebackers mentioned are locks to play every down, there may not be much fantasy value from this group this year either.

Backup LBs: The general lack of elite talent within Giants' linebacking unit leaves the door open for a few of the reserves to vie for a starting position. J.T. Thomas missed a few games due to injury but was not overly exciting when on the field - he registered no turnovers and never eclipsed four solo tackles in a game. Kelvin Sheppard was a productive player in the box scores a year ago, but graded out negatively against both the run and the pass. The G Men took Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson in the fourth round. As a one year collegiate starter, he will need some development and refinement time. But the Giants don't have a ton of athleticism at the core of their defense, so he could see playing time sooner rather than later. He was known as a downhill punisher in the ACC but has the body frame to be an asset in pass coverage as well.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Janoris Jenkins, SS Landon Collins, FS Darian Thompson [R]
Backups: CB Eli Apple [R], CB Trevin Wade, CB Tramain Jacobs, CB Leon McFadden, S Bennett Jackson, FS Cooper Taylor, SS Nat Berhe, FS Mykkele Thompson, SS Justin Currie

Starting DBs: For a team that was dead last in passing yardage allowed last year, upgrading the secondary was a top priority. Thus why the Giants went out and signed the #1 available free agent corner in Janoris Jenkins. The five-year deal is for $62.5 million with $29 million fully guaranteed. Although he's coming off a great season, Jenkins had struggled with giving up plays in past years. His performance will be a big determinant on whether or not the Giants defense sees marked improvement this year. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the defense's biggest playmaker last year, notching 2 defensive touchdowns. He will start opposite Jenkins and give the Giants a potentially formidable outside cornerback duo. Landon Collins struggled to adjust to the increased speed and complexity of NFL offenses early in the season, but he made gradual improvements with each subsequent game. He still profiles as more of an in-the-box safety and there were some rumors of a move to linebacker. However, the coaching staff has stated he will remain at strong safety. Given the weakness of the linebackers, it's quite likely Collins will see an ample amount of snaps close to the line of scrimmage. He's the top candidate to lead the team in tackles in 2016. The free safety position in New York is by far their weakest position in terms of talent. There is an open competition between Cooper Taylor, Bennett Jackson, Nat Berhe, rookie Darian Thompson at the position. Taylor was taking the first team snaps with the team during the spring; however, he will be sidelined until training camp after undergoing sports hernia surgery. This has opened up the door for Thompson to get starter snaps during training camp and is consequently the odds-on favorite to win the position battle. Regardless of who that player is they aren't likely to make a significant impact this year.

Backup DBs: With all the money the Giants have wrapped up in their current starting cornerbacks, it was a bit of a surprise to many when they used the 10th overall pick on cornerback Eli Apple. He has good speed and projects as a press-man corner. Although he was one of the younger players drafted, his technical skills are polished enough to contribute fairly quickly. He will likely serve as a third/nickel corner for the G-Men in 2016. Out of all the reserves on the roster, rookie Darian Thompson has the most upside and is a legitimate candidate to start at free safety. He set the Boise State school record for interceptions with 19 but also got burned for 10 touchdowns in his final three seasons. His play in training camp will heavily factor into his early season role. With Prince Amukamara struggling through injury the majority of last season, Trevin Wade was forced to play over 500 snaps. This was likely more than the team expected or desired. With the drafting of Eli Apple, Wade will fall into the fourth corner role and only see above average playing time if someone gets injured. Mykkele Thompson missed all of last year with an ACL injury, but has been a "full-go" for OTAs. He will compete with the other safeties on the roster for the open safety spot next to Landon Collins.

Last modified: 2016-09-04 23:17:05