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2010 Team Report: New York Giants

Quarterbacks

Starter: Eli Manning
Backup(s): Sage Rosenfels, Ryan Perrilloux

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: The Giants acquired Sage Rosenfels in early September from the Vikings and are no doubt happy to have upgraded their backup position. Rosenfels has starting experience and many scouts believe he would be capable of winnings games under center for the Giants in Manning's absence. The 33-year old is a career 63% passer, with some mobility. If there's a knock on him, it's his gunslinger mentality, exhibited by his career TD/INT ratio of 30 to 29. Ryan Perrilloux is technically the 3rd stringer for now, but the Giants are almost assuredly going to bring in another veteran or a rookie free agent to compete for the QB3 role once the lockout ends.

Running Backs

Starter: Brandon Jacobs
Backup(s): Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware, Martell Mallett, Da'Rel Scott [R]
Fullback(s): Madison Hedgecock, Bear Pascoe, Charles Scott

Starting RB: In spite of periods of inconsistency, at the end of the year the Giants running game went exactly as they hoped last year. 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. Depending on the new rules, there's a chance Bradshaw could be a free agent, but it's hard to imagine the Giants won't make re-signing him a priority. If he's back in the fold, he should once again serve as the main playmaker on a balanced offensive attack.

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 in the preseason (if there is a preseason) between Danny Ware, Martell Mallett and rookie Da'Rel Scott.

Fullback: The fullback position is in flux, as the Giants have to decide whether Madison Hedgecock is capable of producing like he did a few years ago before injuries impacted his power at the point of attack. Bear Pascoe, a converted tight end, played a lot in Hedgecock's stead but didn't really look the part. Charles Scott doesn't appear to be the answer either, if the Giants want a pure blocking back.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Steve Smith [FA], Hakeem Nicks
Backups: Mario Manningham, Derek Hagan, Jerrel Jernigan [R], Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Victor Cruz, Darius Reynaud

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 three best receivers -- Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham at full strength. Assuming Steve Smith (who could be a free agent depending on the rules of free agency under a new CBA) can come back from his microfracture surgery, he would reprise his role as a starter. When healthy, Smith has proven to be a sharp route runner who Eli Manning trusts in most situations. While not a game breaker, he provides a key short and intermediate target and works well in motion. Hakeem Nicks emerged in his second year as a true 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.

Backup WRs: Mario Manningham is almost a de facto starter in his own right, and was the only Giants WR to appear in all 16 games (starting 8) last year. Manningham 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. One would think the Giants are comfortable with Manningham as a starter should either Smith or Nicks get hurt again, but if not he'll still be one of the most targeted WR3s in the NFL. The rest of the backups are to be determined 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.

Tight Ends

Starters: Kevin Boss
Backups: Travis Beckum, Jake Ballard

Kevin Boss isn't going to be confused as an impact fantasy tight end anytime soon, but his overall game is strong enough to keep his starting spot in New York. Recovering from offseason hip surgery, the restricted free agent should be back in the fold and provides good, but not great blocking and situational pass catching, particularly in short area routes. Travis Beckum hasn't delivered on the promise he showed at the University of Wisconson, but appears safe considering the Giants didn't target the TE position in the April draft.

Place Kicker

Lawrence Tynes : During his first year with the Giants in 2007, Tynes struggled. Despite Tom Coughlin's history with kickers, he stuck with Tynes, who went on to kick the dramatic game winner in overtime of the NFC Championship. The Giants rewarded him with a new contract after the season, but Tynes then suffered a knee injury during the next preseason, and the Giants signed John Carney. Although Tynes eventually recovered, Carney was performing so well that the coaches opted to stick with the hot leg. In 2009, with Tynes under contract and Carney a free agent, Tynes was again the Giants kicker. After two decades with only one top ten finish in kicker scoring, the Giants ranked in the top five the past two years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Danny Ware, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, Sinorice Moss, Hakeem Nicks, Adam Jennings, Domenik Hixon

Towards the end of the 2007 regular season, WR Domenik Hixon took over the lead kickoff returner role (8 returns, 27.6 avg., 1 TD) and continued in that capacity through their Super Bowl run. In 2008 he had only three returns (albeit with a 60.0 yard average) due to his workload on offense and punt returns. He resumed the lead role last year (57 returns, 22.6 avg.), but is lost for 2010 after tearing his ACL in June. RB Danny Ware had three kickoff returns for 36 yards in college at Georgia. He had two for 37 yards for the Giants last year. RB Ahmad Bradshaw handled the majority of kickoffs for most of 2007 and 2008 (39 returns, 22.2 avg. in 2008), however he had none last year. RB Andre Brown averaged 20.1 yards on kickoff returns during his college career at N.C. State. The returner that the Giants thought might be lurking within WR Sinorice Moss still hasn't materialized (6 returns, 18.2 avg. last year); however he'll get another chance due to Hixon's injury. WR Hakeem Nicks averaged 19.1 yards on seven returns during his final year at North Carolina, and had one 16 yarder as a rookie last year. WR Adam Jennings served as a backup for the Falcons in 2006 and 2007.

Punt Returners: Aaron Ross, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, Ahmad Bradshaw, Antrel Rolle, Adam Jennings, Domenik Hixon, Chad Jones

Hixon's injury also creates a job opening on punt returns. CB Aaron Ross averaged 11.8 yards on punt returns during college at Texas and scored three times, and has been itching to return punts in the NFL. Sinorice Moss finally got some regular season returns with the Giants last year (11 returns, 6.7 avg.). WR Mario Manningham had only one punt return (17 yards) during his college career at Michigan, but practiced in that role last year. Ahmad Bradshaw also surfaced as a backup last year (6 returns, 9.2 avg.). Safety Antrel Rolle served as a backup for Arizona last year (6 returns, 9.2 avg.). During his rookie year with the Falcons, Adam Jennings watched Allen Rossum handle all the punt returns. In 2007 Jennings took over the lead punt returner role, but was eventually released part way through 2008 after very lackluster numbers. Domenik Hixon averaged 7.7 yards on punt returns during his senior year at Akron, and scored on a punt return during his junior year. Last year he averaged 15.1 yards on 17 returns and scored once. Third round draft pick safety Chad Jones would have competed for the job. He averaged 14.3 yards on nine punt returns for LSU last year and scored once. The Giants climbed to 12th in fantasy returns last year after having ranked 27th in 2008.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT David Diehl, LG Rich Seubert, C Shaun O'Hara, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzie
Key Backups: T/G Guy Whimper, G Kevin Boothe, T Adam Koets

The Giants have a terrific, veteran offensive line but didn't play their best last season. Kareem McKenzie was perhaps a top-10 tackle last year and did a great job. He did miss four games last year but only three in the previous seven seasons. David Diehl is a very good lineman but he did not play his best football last season and will be looking for redemption. He hasn't missed a game in the NFL. Chris Snee is one of the best guards in all of football and haven't missed a start since 2004. He is an incredible run blocker. Rich Seubert is a dependable guard who has missed just two starts over the last three years. At center, Shaun O'Hara is one of the best in the game today and he hasn't missed a start over the last five seasons. The Giants offensive line is experienced, talented and could be the best in the NFL in 2010.

Team Defense

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Justin Tuck, DT Barry Cofield, DT Chris Canty, DE Mathias Kiwanuka
Backups: DE Osi Umenyiora, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Dave Tollefson, DE Tommie Hill, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Jay Alford, DT Linval Joseph, DT Dwayne Hendricks

Starting DL: The defensive line play was a major disappointment in 2009. Mathias Kiwanuka admitted they didn't buy into Sheridan's defense and that there was a lot of "freelancing" going on. Injuries played a part as well. Justin Tuck played most of last season with one arm due to a partially torn labrum. Tuck still put up decent numbers (44-15-6), but not up to his previous standards. Kiwanuka replaced Umenyiora in early December; these two will battle it out in 2010 for the starting LDE spot. Kiwanuka finished with only three sacks, but his lack of sack production may have been due to his bouncing inside on some passing downs. Cofield a RFA (2nd RD tender) did not get an offer sheet from any teams, he is yet to sign his one year tender. Canty was injured coming into training camp in what turned out to be a torn hamstring. Between the hamstring and his transition from a 3-4 DE to 4-3 DT, 2009 did not go well. He contributed only 13 tackles and a half a sack. Canty needs to stay healthy to give the Giants a return on their six year, 42 million investment.

Backup DL: Umenyiora will be two years removed from his season-ending knee injury in 2008 and hopes to be fully recovered. Coughlin stated at the Scouting Combine, that he wouldn't guarantee a starting job to Umenyiora, which prompted Umenyiora to threaten retirement. The situation has since cooled and Coughlin's comment seems to have lit a fire under Umenyiora. Reports are he's been working hard in off-season programs eager to prove his worth. The Giants think rookie Jason Pierre-Paul has the biggest upside of any player in the draft. Rumors persist that the addition of Pierre-Paul will pave the way for the departure of Umenyiora, who stated this off-season he wants to be traded if he isn't returned to the starting lineup. The Giants insist they plan on using Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora as part of a four man rotation. Tollefson is a good motor and effort guy, but nothing more than depth. Tommie Hill was signed as an undrafted free agent last year. Jay Alford was poised to have a big 2009 season, but tore his ACL in the preseason and missed the entire year. Bernard was a total non-factor and a huge disappointment last season. There was talk he would be released, but he's still on the roster and will have to fight to win a job. Bernard stated in late May he played with a partially torn rotator cuff, Hendricks, a 2009 undrafted FA, is a developmental player who is athletic, has ability, and plays with a mean streak, but his motor is not consistent. Rookie Linval Joseph brings versatility with the ability to play all inside positions, whether that be nose tackle or 3-technique and he could push Cofield for playing time immediately. He'll be a nice tool when Giants show some multiple fronts.

Linebackers

Starters: OLB Michael Boley, MLB Jonathan Goff, OLB Clint Sintim
Backups: LB Chase Blackburn, LB Gerris Wilkinson, LB Bryan Kehl, LB Phillip Dillard, LB Zac DeOssie, LB Kenny Ingram, LB Adrian Tracy

Starting LBs: Who will replace Antonio Pierce? Entering the preseason, the Giants say it will be an open competition among incumbents Jonathan Goff, Chase Blackburn, Gerris Wilkinson and rookie Phillip Dillard. Goff is the likely front runner at this point. Wilkinson has durability issues and 2010 may be a make or break year for him. Blackburn and Dillard are long shots for now. Things didn't start off well for Boley, he was suspended for the 2009 opener as a result of violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy and injuries cost Boley all of training camp as well as four games in the regular season. The injury no doubt had a negative impact on his 2009 performance. Boley, who is the most athletic LB on the roster, could be in for a big year playing the coveted Tampa-2 WLB role if in fact Fewell moves the defense in that direction. Sintim is penciled in as the starter at SLB. He is yet another Giants' defender who was limited in 2009 by injuries, a set back in his development transitioning from college 3-4 rush backer to NFL 4-3 OLB.

Backup LBs: Some feel that Wilkinson may no longer be part of the MLB competition after the team grabbed Dillard in the draft. Wilkinson may have the best skill set to play MLB in new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's scheme, however, which will likely have a Tampa/cover-2 flavor. Dillard will be given an opportunity to compete with Goff and Wilkinson. He could be the future MLB, but the future may not be in 2010. Blackburn has value as depth for all three LB positions, but doesn't appear to be starting material long term. Kehl is similar to Sintim in the fact he's a 3-4 college LB trying to fit in a 4-3. Some feel the Giants should draft LBs who better fit the scheme. Kehl is nothing more than depth at this point. DeOssie is depth and also serves as the long snapper. Ingram, an undrafted free agent out of Florida State, played safety all but his senior year. He stands 6-5, 239 with the frame to get bigger. Ingram really packs a punch, supposed he could be a long shot at Sam if Sintim becomes too big of a liability in coverage. Sixth round pick 'tweener Adrian Tracy is a developmental player.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Corey Webster, S Kenny Phillips, S Antrel Rolle, CB Terrell Thomas
Backups: CB Aaron Ross, CB Bruce Johnson, CB D.J. Johnson, CB Vince Anderson, S Deon Grant, S Michael Johnson, S Chad Jones, S Sha'Reff Rashad

Starting DBs: Terrell Thomas enjoyed a breakout season after unseating the oft-injured Aaron Ross. He lead the team in tackles, interceptions and passes defensed. As stated earlier, Fewell has a zone Tampa/cover-2 background, Thomas has nice size and is a great fit in a Tampa-2 scheme, and he could put up some very nice numbers. Webster was not the same player he was in 2008, his numbers and play was down across the board, and outside of Thomas you could say that about the whole Giant defense. Webster, like Thomas, has good size and should fit in a zone scheme. Kenny Phillips had season-ending microfracture surgery to repair a kneecap problem (patellofemoral arthritis). Some fear this may be career threatening. The big concern remains that Phillips will never be the same player that he was before the injury. Phillips is running full speed, but not making any cuts. The Giants signed free agent safety Antrel Rolle to a very lucrative 5 year $37 million dollar contract, with $15 million guaranteed. Rolle, in his prime, should give a much needed boost to the backend. If Phillips can return to full health, he and Rolle will make a formidable pair of interchangeable safeties.

Backup DBs: Injuries at the safety position devastated the Giants last year. Deon Grant, a capable starter, is more than insurance for Phillips. Fewell likes to use three safeties simultaneously in his modified Tampa-2 system. Two to cover the deep middle and one playing a hybrid LB role. Rookie SS Chad Jones could be a perfect fit for the safety hybrid role. The Giants passed on MLB Phillip Dillard in the third round to select Jones, possibly another indication of their concern with Phillips. Jones faces career threatening injuries from an automoble accident on June 24th. He is surely lost for this year. Undrafted FA Vince Anderson was switched from corner to safety last year; Fewell could move him back to corner. The Giants like what they see in 2009 UFA Sha'reff Rashad he will provide depth at cover safety. Michael Johnson could be the odd man out after frequent coverage lapses in recent seasons.

Last modified: 2011-05-06 12:17:15