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2017 Team Report: New York Giants

Offensive Philosophy

When Ben McAdoo arrived in New York in 2014, he worked hard to turn Eli Manning from an instinctive gunslinger into more of a high-percentage passer willing to play within the system. The result was an uptick in completion percentage and a decline in yards per completion. It was also a large increase in pass attempts and corresponding decrease in rush attempts as the team replaced runs with high-percentage passes. With no bellcow back and Manning nearing the end of the line, expect the Giants offense to continue trending even further in these directions in 2017.


Starter: Eli Manning
Backup(s): Geno Smith, Davis Webb [R]

Starting QB: Eli Manning enters his 15th season with a chip on his shoulder after regressing a bit in 2016 and inviting public criticism from his head coach. Ben McAdoo's wide open offense led Manning to a career year in 2015, but the offense wasn't as sharp or precise in 2016 due to a combination of offensive line woes and McAdoo's ascension to head coach. Coaches believe the maturation of young tackles Erick Flowers and Bobby Hart combined with the addition of veteran receiver Brandon Marshall will be enough to get Manning back to his 2015 form. Manning has never had the uncanny accuracy of his fellow Super Bowl winning quarterbacks but he does have an excellent 4.7% career touchdown rate and has improved his decision making under McAdoo. After leading the league with 27 interceptions in 2013, Manning has thrown 91 touchdowns versus 44 interceptions in the last three seasons. One of the league's true iron men, Manning should keep the Giants in contention this year assuming the offensive line takes a modest step forward.

Backup QB: If Eli Manning gets hurt this year, Geno Smith will probably start in his place. Smith, formerly of the Jets, stayed in Gotham as Manning's new backup. His starting experience is a plus but Smith has a lot to prove in his new locker room after throwing 28 touchdown versus 36 interceptions in 30 career starts. Longer term, Manning's successor is more likely rookie Davis Webb. Webb is a raw but athletic passer from Cal, and should benefit from playing behind Manning (a consummate pro) while being coached up by McAdoo (a quarterback whisperer).

Running Backs

Starter: Paul Perkins
Backup(s): Shane Vereen, Wayne Gallman [R], Orleans Darkwa
Fullback(s): Rhett Ellison

Starting RB: To say the Giants have struggled running the ball in recent years would be an understatement. New York ranks 29th in yards (4,628 yards), 30th in yards per rush (3.72) and 30th in rushing touchdowns (24) in Ben McAdoo's three seasons calling the offense. Much of the blame lies with the 'offensive' line, but the revolving door of runners has compounded the issue. Second year pro Paul Perkins will be given the opportunity to right the ship. Perkins has the requisite skills to stay on the field for all downs and distances; a strong preseason will vault him into workhorse contention.

Backup RBs: Rookie Wayne Gallman (6'0", 215 lbs.) could eventually spell Perkins and provide a short-yardage boost, but like most rookie running backs he'll need to improve his pass blocking before seeing the field. Gallman was productive in Clemson's offense (3,416 yards and 34 touchdowns) but scouts doubted his vision and ability to make defenders miss at the NFL level. Veteran Shane Vereen isn't a between-the-tackles workhorse, but the veteran is valuable on obvious passing downs as a threat out of the backfield. Journeyman Shaun Draughn joins his 7th team and provides a "break glass in case of emergency" option. Orleans Darkwa - considered a roster long shot entering camp -- has been the most impressive backup in the preseason and may open the season as the #2.


Wide Receivers

Starters: Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall
Backups: Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris, Roger Lewis

Starting WRs: Odell Beckham had his 'worst' season in 2016, which speaks volumes about the elite level he's attained. Beckham set 'career lows' with 13.5 yards per catch, 10 touchdowns and a 59.8% catch rate. He also caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards on route to his third consecutive All Pro nod. Through his first three seasons, Beckham ranks 2nd all-time for yards (4,122), 1st in receptions (288) and fourth in touchdowns (35). If there's a blemish on his otherworldly abilities, it's a tendency to show his frustration openly. Sterling Shepard didn't have a rookie season evocative of Beckham's, but it was impressive nonetheless. The former Oklahoma Sooner caught 65 passes for 683 yards (10.5 per catch) and 8 touchdowns, settling into an ideal complementary role. Shepard may move into a slot receiving role this year with the addition of Brandon Marshall. The 12-year veteran signed with New York because he wants to compete for a championship, and the hope is last year's debacle was more about the Jets awful quarterbacking than a sign of Marshall's decline. Marshall has six 100+ reception seasons for three different teams, and should pair well with Beckham on the opposite side of the field. Marshall is physical and aggressive, and will win the jump ball situations Eli Manning puts him in.

Backup WRs: With a trio of 'starters' like Beckham, Shepard and Marshall, the Giants front office can be forgiven for the lackluster back end of the receiving corps. King, Harris and Lewis combined for 11 receptions and two touchdowns last season, and are ill suited to heavier workloads.

Tight Ends

Starters: Evan Engram [R]
Backups: Jerrell Adams, Matt LaCosse

New York drafted Evan Engram in the 1st round of the draft and hopes it's solve the long-standing vortex of ineptitude at the tight end position. Engram is an oversized receiver and won't help improve the running game much, nor will he keep Eli Manning from getting sacked. He will, however, give Manning another mismatch to exploit as Engram (6'3", 234 lbs.) is a fluid route runner and has a wide catch radius. Engram has been compared to Jordan Reed by scouts, hinting at his long-term upside. Jerrell Adams outdueled a handful of veterans for the backup job.

Place Kicker

Aldrick Rosas: Josh Brown began 2016 as the Giants kicker, but he didn't finish the season as their kicker. He was released after domestic abuse accusations against him became public. Robbie Gould took over, but the team did not bring him back in free agency. In January, they signed Aldrick Rosas to a futures/reserve contract, although the team has said that they plan on bringing in a veteran kicker before the open of training camp. Rosas should be considered the favorite to open the season as the kicker. He has a power leg and was a standout at Southern Oregon. The Giants haven't eclipsed 32 field goal attempts in the last four seasons and only had 22 last year, so don't bet on this as fertile soil for fantasy kicker fortunes.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Dwayne Harris

Dwayne Harris is a two-way return specialist who returns to likely handle duties in 2017. Last year's backup, Bobby Rainey, is currently a free agent, and it's unclear who, (if anyone), will spell Harris in 2017.

Punt Returners: Dwayne Harris, Odell Beckham Jr.

While Harris is beyond question the lead returner, the Giants like using their superstar receiver on punt returns more often than you might think; he had 10 attempts last year and 33 for his career, so don't be surprised if he gets another 6-8 in 2017.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, RT Bobby Hart
Key Backups: D.J. Fluker, Brett Jones, Chad Wheeler

Despite widespread opinion to the contrary, the Giants' offensive line has actually been sneakily improving in recent years. They return all five starters from the end of last season, which is great for cohesion. Left guard Justin Pugh is the glue guy of the line, and the lineup really suffers when he is hurt. Right guard John Jerry took a huge step forward last season and has become a competent starter. Center Weston Richburg has been a professional since his draft. Left tackle Ereck Flowers had a down season last year but he is only 23 and still developing on schedule. Right tackle Bobby Hart is only 22 but he is an exciting young starter and both tackles have untapped potential. Fans have harshly judged these tackles (especially Flowers) but both are young and have the talent to get better. The team signed D.J. Fluker to be the swing tackle but he could project better as a guard (pushing Pugh out to tackle if needed). Overall this line is shaping up to the one of the better in the league, but their reputation might lead one to believe otherwise.

Team Defense

The Giants threw a ton of money at their defense by adding Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins in free agency in 2016, and the results showed. They were the #1 D/ST from Week 7 on, and should be considered a premium D/ST for 2017 with only Jonathan Hankins gone from the 2016 core. The linebackers are still a weak spot, but the team added Dalvin Tomlinson, the best nose tackle in the draft. Fantasy drafters appear to be a bit slow to catch up to the evolution of the Giants defense, as they are going in the second half of the top ten, but based on the trend over the course of 2016, they are worth a top five pick this year.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Olivier Vernon, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NT Damon Harrison, DT Dalvin Tomlinson [R]
Backups: DT Jay Bromley, DE Romeo Okwara, DE Kerry Wynn, DE Avery Moss [R], DT Robert Thomas

Starting DL: The Giants have one of the most formidable pass-rushing bookends in Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul. The two combined for 15 sacks last year despite JPP missing four games and are a big reason why the Giants' defense is considered one of the best in the NFL. Damon "Snacks" Harrison was brought in from the Jets last year to serve as a dominant run-stopping presence in the middle of the defense, and run stop he did - leading all defensive linemen with a tackle on 12.9% of his snaps. The G-men drafted Dalvin Tomlinson in the second round of this year's draft to replace Johnathan Hankins who was lured away by the Colts in free agency. Tomlinson has a good chance at starting Week 1 next to Damon Harrison, but projects as a two-down run-stuffer. The combination of these two big men in the middle should keep New York's run-of-the-mill linebackers well protected and ultimately help the Giants to be one of the stingier run defenses in the league once again.

Backup DL: The Giants don't rotate much up front, so their reserve defensive linemen typically don't make much of a box score impact. Romeo Okwara was signed last year as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame. He was forced into a larger role after Jason Pierre-Paul went down with a season-ending injury in Week 13 and he flashed some upside in a Week 14 primetime game against the Cowboys. Jay Bromley is the Giants most experienced backup on the line and will serve as rotational depth along the interior. Owa Odighizuwa had a lot of pass rushing upside coming out of the 2015 draft but, due to his injury history, he was seen 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 and he made virtually no impact last year in the 169 snaps he played. The Giants used their 167th pick to select defensive end Avery Moss. Moss was kicked out of Nebraska for exposing himself to a fellow student and eventually landed at Youngstown State playing opposite three time, first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference defensive end Derek Rivers. He enters the NFL with some obvious character concerns, but New York liked his long reach and ability to play at multiple positions along the defensive front. He will fight for rotational snaps in his first year and could eventually develop into a serviceable starter in the NFL.


Starters: MLB B.J. Goodson, SLB Devon Kennard, WLB Jonathan Casillas
Backups: MLB Keenan Robinson, SLB J.T. Thomas, LB Calvin Munson

Starting LBs: The Giants have fielded one of the weakest linebacking crews in the league over the last several seasons, so it was surprising that they again failed to address the position via free agency and/or the draft. They will instead rely on their stout front four to keep their middling linebackers well protected. Veteran Keenan Robinson was brought in last year from the Redskins and saw the second most playing time at linebacker behind Jonathan Casillas. He didn't grade out particularly well against the run or pass however and will face stiff competition from second year player B.J. Goodson for the starting MLB role. Although Goodson has only played 13 defensive snaps at the NFL level, he seems to have the edge on the first-team duties and a solid chance of being a three-down player. He's someone to keep an eye on in shallow IDP leagues as an end of the draft value pick. Jonathan Casillas will maintain his starting, two-down role on the weak side but doesn't offer much in terms of tackle production. Devon Kennard had flashed play-making ability when on the field in the past, but injury issues have mitigated his growth. This said the Giants put a cap on his snaps last year to keep him healthy. This seemed to work as Kennard played all 16 games for the first time in his career. The Giants like his pass-rushing ability and occasionally move him down on the line in a three-point stance.

Backup LBs: The loser of the middle linebacker competition will likely be the first linebacker off the bench for the Giants and could even see some first-team nickel snaps now that Kelvin Sheppard is no longer with the team. J.T.Thomas missed all of last season with a knee injury and is shaping up to be a candidate for release prior to the start of the regular season. Mark Herzlich has been with the team for six seasons and knows the scheme well, but he played quite minimally last year seeing just 14 snaps in 14 games. The rest of the linebackers 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 this year.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Eli Apple, SCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, SS Landon Collins, FS Darian Thompson
Backups: S Andrew Adams, SS Nat Berhe, CB Michael Hunter, CB Ross Cockrell

Starting DBs: Barring injury, the Giants cornerback configuration should be very similar to year ago with Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple manning the outside and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie playing in the slot. In his first year in a Giants uniform, Jenkins allowed a career-low 50% completion percentage and just three touchdowns. DRC had another great season for the Giants as quarterbacks had a mere 56.6 QB rating when throwing at him (a career best). Apple, a 2016 first round selection, had an up and down rookie season but the Giants seem comfortable that he will take a big step forward in 2017. Speaking of a big step forward, Landon Collins emerged as one of the league's top safeties in just his second season registering 125 total tackles, 4 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 9 tackles for loss. He should continue to deliver top-notch production for the Giants, as there remains a serious lack of competition for tackles in the back seven. Darian Thompson began the season as the starter at free safety last year but suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss the team's remaining 14 games. Although Andrew Adams played well as his replacement, Thompson figures to be the starter again in Week 1 as long as he proves to be healthy.

Backup DBs: The Giants signed Antwon Blake this off-season to serve as their fourth cornerback. The team is likely hoping that they don't have to put Blake on the field much as he's consistently been one of the league's most burnt corners over the last couple seasons. Andrew Adams filled in well at safety for the Giants last year after Darian Thompson went down in Week 2 with a season-ending Lisfranc injury. He played nearly 750 snaps last year and will likely be the first safety off the bench for New York. Mykelle Thompson has missed 31 of the Giants 32 games over his first two seasons in the league and will enter into this year fighting for a roster spot. Rahim Moore is a former second round pick who spent the majority of his career with the Broncos before moving over to the Texans in 2015 where he had a disastrous season that ultimately ended up with him being cut. He spent 2016 out of football and remains a long shot to make the 53-man roster this season.

Last modified: 2017-09-05 15:46:48