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2013 Team Report: New York Giants

Quarterbacks

Starter: Eli Manning
Backup(s): Curtis Painter, Ryan Nassib [R]

Starting QB: It's fair to say Eli Manning regressed in 2012. He completed less than 60% of his passes for the first time since 2007. He failed to throw for 4,000 yards for the first time since 2008. And his streak of 27+ TD pass seasons ended at three. But underneath the box score stats, Manning essentially delivered another textbook season in what's turned into an exemplary career. His touchdown rate (4.9%), interception rate (2.8%) and yards per attempt (7.4) were all in-line with his career averages. Manning enters his 10th season armed with an elite cadre of receivers, consistency among his coaching staff and an offensive line that received an injection of talent in first round OT Justin Pugh. In an era of pass happy offenses, the Giants don't ask Manning to throw the ball 600 times. In fact, he's thrown the ball 540 or fewer times in all but two seasons.

Backup QB: Curtis Painter was thought to be battling rookie Ryan Nassib for the 3rd QB role but instead exits the preseason as the team's backup quarterback. Painter is a career 52% passer and would be a material step down from Eli Manning if called upon. Nassib was projected as a possible top 10 pick by many pundits but fell to the 4th round where GM Jerry Reese felt compelled to pounce on the strong armed pocket passer from Syracuse.

Running Backs

Starter: David Wilson
Backup(s): Andre Brown, Da'Rel Scott, Michael Cox [R]
Fullback(s): Henry Hynoski

Starting RB: New York cut ties with Ahmad Bradshaw, which can be seen as endorsements of second-year David Wilson and fifth-year Andre Brown. Both runners flashed moments of brilliance in 2012 but also displayed glaring weaknesses. In Brown's case, durability has always been the problem. Last year Brown racked up 33 carries for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns in two early season starts before a shoulder injury forced him into a backup, short yardage role. A broken fibula that required surgery ended his season in November. Brown's talents were enough to earn him a second round restricted tender though and he was in line for a meaningful role until another broken leg in the final preseason game set him back. Brown is hopeful of a 4-6 week return but that may prove optimistic. Either way, David Wilson is now the unquestioned workhorse. Wilson, a first rounder last year, has the ability and pedigree to be an NFL feature back. However, fumbling problems carried over from Virginia Tech to the NFL, and that landed him in the coaching dog house as a rookie. Injuries forced the team to give Wilson another shot, and in the final month Wilson looked every bit like an explosive NFL starter (43 carries for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns). Wilson had a strong preseason and was in line to be the team's feature back, and that's before Andre Brown broke his leg. Now Wilson has a clear path to a major workload in all downs and distances.

Backup RBs: If Andre Brown can't return from a broken leg quickly, the Giants will have question marks at the backup RB positions. The other backs on the roster aren't in the same tier, with Da'Rel Scott (11 carries in two seasons) and rookie 7th rounder Michael Cox rounding out the RB stable. Cox had an impressive training camp but has more value in the return game than as a ball carrier.

Fullback: Henry Hynoski is a human battering ram, and thrives on sacrificing his body to open holes for his backfield mates; but he's not much of an offensive threat in his own right. He graded out as one of the best lead blockers a season ago and should reprise his role with aplomb.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz
Backups: Rueben Randle [R], Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan

Starting WRs: What a difference a season makes. Entering 2012, the questions surrounded Victor Cruz and whether his breakout 2011 season was an anomaly. Few doubted Hakeem Nicks position as one of the league's best all-around receivers. Now the tables have turned as Nicks dealt with an injury plagued season (13 games, 53 receptions for 692 yards and 3 touchdowns) while Cruz made his first Pro Bowl (86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns). Cruz benefitted in 2011 from single coverage as defenses keyed on Hakeem Nicks, but last year Nicks couldn't flourish in the reverse situation. In recognition of his value, the Giants signed Cruz to a long-term extension in July; he's clearly the team's top receiver now and with good reason. He's not only able to beat defenders deep, but has become a potent target in traffic. Nicks' foot and knee injuries early in 2012 were blamed for his sub par season, but he's still not 100% months after a minor cleanup procedure on his knee. The onus is on Nicks to have a productive preseason before anyone can view him as the ascendant star we perceived two years ago. Nicks is entering a contract year, and will have every incentive to re-establish himself as a top flight starter. When healthy, Nicks has few if any flaws. He's a precise route runner, drops very few passes, and is strong at the point of attack.

Backup WRs: The backup receivers are inexperienced, to say the least. Rueben Randle leads all returning backups with 19 receptions, but certainly has the talent and opportunity to take a major step forward in his second season. Randle only played 250 snaps as a rookie, but led the team with a 15.7 yards-per-catch average while showing a respectable YAC (3.8 yards) and TD rate (16%). Randle (6'3 and 210 pounds) and Nicks (6'3 and 212 pounds) are similarly built, and Randle has been arguably the best player (at any position) during the preseason and training camp. Louis Murphy joins the team after one forgettable season in Carolina and will try to recapture the hints of ability we saw from Murphy way back in his 2009 rookie season in Oakland. Murphy is another physical clone of Nicks (6'2 and 200 pounds) but hasn't shown a consistent ability to make tough catches or gain separation. Jerrel Jernigan rounds out the 53-man roster.

Tight Ends

Starters: Brandon Myers
Backups: Adrien Robinson, Bear Pascoe

The Giants tight end situation has become a bit of a revolving door, and 2013 will be no different as Martellus Bennett parlayed his 55-catch, 626-yard, 5-touchdown season into free agent riches in Chicago. The Giants don't seem ready to hand the reins over to Bear Pascoe or Adrien Robinson, and opted instead to sign free agent Brandon Myers. Myers is by no means Bennett's equal athletically, but is coming off a breakout season in his own right. In his fourth season in Oakland, Myers emerged as Carson Palmer's only reliable target and caught 79 receptions for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns. Myers will serve as Eli Manning's safety valve but won't stretch the field, putting more pressure on the wide receivers to work the outside. Pascoe split time between fullback and tight end in 2012, and will continue to serve as a blocker in most formations. Robinson failed to log a catch in his rookie season, and only caught 29 passes in his college career; a long shot to overtake Myers barring injury.

Place Kicker

Josh Brown: The Giants did not re-sign kicker Lawrence Tynes. They did sign Jake Rogers in January (released in May), David Buehler in February (released late July) and finally Josh Brown in March. Brown resurfaced late last year in Cincinnati and kicked well (11 of 12 on field goals in December plus two more in the playoffs) filling in for injured Mike Nugent. Brown will be working with holder/punter Steve Weatherford and long snapper Zac DeOssie. After ranking 24th in kicker scoring opportunities for two straight years, the Giants jumped back into top five at 3rd in 2012.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Trindon Holliday, Quintin Demps, Jerrel Jernigan

At the end of last season one of the larger questions for the Giants return game seemed to be whether the team would return injured running back David Wilson to the role after his return. When the team acquired two free agents who were near the top of the league as returners, Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps, that question seemed answered and replaced with a new one: "Who will start?" Holliday may have more pure physical talent, but his struggles with controlling the football are why Houston and Denver were willing to let him go. Expect both players to receive their chances during the year as a result.

Punt Returners: Trindon Holliday, Reuben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan

While Quintin Demps is worthy competition for Trindon Holliday as a kick returner, his lack of experience in punt returns leaves Reuben Randle as the most likely backup to Holliday. Several teams last season began to use punt returners situationally, sending out a receiver with surer hands for punts near the end zone or in game situations where a turnover would be more costly. Denver was such a team, using Wes Welker and Eric Decker at times instead of Holliday. Do not be surprised if the Giants use this same tactic now they have Holliday in their fold.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Will Beatty, LG David Diehl, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT Justin Pugh
Key Backups: T Matt McCants, T James Brewer, G Kevin Boothe, G Brandon Mosely, C Jim Cordle

At left tackle, Will Beatty has developed into an athletically capable pass blocker. Center David Baas is a solid and tough mauler inside the line. Chris Snee is a former Pro Bowler who is rock solid at right guard. These are the known facts about the Giants offensive line. However, the line is somewhat of a confusing situation at two other spots: left guard and right tackle. Left guard is currently manned by below average starter Kevin Boothe, who briefly left the team but was re-signed on the cheap in the offseason. The Giants drafted Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh in the first round, and he could be a natural fit at left guard. However the Giants will to try him first at right tackle, where former fourth round pick out of Indiana James Brewer has been developing. Brewer is a player the team reportedly likes and will also be given his chance to start on the right side. If Brewer wins the implication is Pugh goes to guard. Meanwhile, David Diehl is a former All-Pro who has starting experience up and down the line, but is currently not listed as a starter. Diehl recently took a pay cut to stay with the Giants and for now he is penciled in as a swing tackle, or first man in the game in case of injury. It is interesting to note that if Diehl started at left guard, the Giants' ranking would be eleventh in the offensive line rankings, more in line with last year's high ranking. However it is not clear that the team has Diehl in their plans. Brandon Mosley (originally out of Auburn) is an interesting depth name, as he could compete for a starting position with a strong preseason. Jim Cordle is a solid emergency center. The Giants line has talent but it is unclear where each player will be playing in the near term. This line in general does better in pass protection than in run blocking, and were an excellent pass blocking unit in 2012 (after being dreadful in 2011). Overall this offensive line can improve to the top half of the rankings if the musical chairs stop and the starting positions firm up in the preseason.

Team Defense

For a team that allowed the 31st most yards last season, the Giants did very little in the off-season to improve their defense. All three linebacker positions are currently filled by journeyman players or unproven young talent. The cornerback position still remains a serious area of concern as New York gave up nearly 255 yards a game through the air in 2012. Prince Amukamara played better in his second year, but is still not playing at a CB1 level. Corey Webster was absolutely torched last season, but still figures to be a starter on opening day. The Giants will look for Jayron Hosley to press Webster for starting snaps with Terrell Thomas serving as a subpackage player. Defensive line remains the Giants biggest area of defensive strength. Jason Pierre-Paul's off-season back surgery is a bit troubling, however. Both his teammates and the organization expect him to be ready for Week 1, but he has been less confident in that return date. Fantasy owners should proceed with caution in drafting JPP but still recognize his potential value if he continues to fall in drafts. Justin Tuck will probably get his final shot at proving he is still capable of a Pro Bowl type season. Mathias Kiwanuka will assume a situation pass rusher role in obvious passing situations with newly-drafted DaMontre Moore taking over the hybrid DL/OLB role. There's a good possibility that someone outside of JPP will emerge as a solid DL3 or higher option this season.

Defensive Line

Starters: LDE Justin Tuck, LDT Linval Joseph, RDT Cullen Jenkins, RDE Jason Pierre-Paul
Backups: DE Mathias Kiwanuka, DT Shaun Rogers, DE Damontre Moore [R], DT Marvin Austin, DT Mike Patterson, DT Jonathan Hankins [R], DE Adrian Tracy, DE Matt Broha, DE Adewale Ojomo, DE Justin Trattou, DT Markus Kuhn, DT Bobby Skinner

Starting DL: Even with the departure of Osi Umenyiora, the Giants still have one of the more formidable defensive lines in the league. Jason Pierre-Paul will move to left defensive end this season with Justin Tuck flipping to right end. Despite a drop in production last year and June back surgery that leaves him questionable for Week 1 of the regular season, Pierre-Paul should still be drafted as a top 5 fantasy defensive linemen. Justin Tuck has just 9 sacks over his last two injury-riddled seasons, but he is in a contract year and should see more snaps per game than he has over the last couple of seasons. He's far from a trustworthy selection, but his upside keeps him in top 30 consideration. Cullen Jenkins was brought in during the off-season and will pair with Linval Joseph on the interior of the line. Both players are solid DT2/DT2+ options, especially if the ends perform up to expectations.

Backup DL: Mathias Kiwanuka will slide into a more traditional lineman role this season role as opposed to the tweener role he has played in the past several years. If Justin Tuck continues to struggle, Kiwanuka could easily outproduce his average draft position. Once a top 5 consideration, DaMontre Moore slide all the way down to the third round in this year's draft amid concerns about his athleticism and strentgh. He will be used as a hybrid stand up OLB/defensive end similar to the role Mathias Kiwanuka has played in year's past. He could see enough snaps to register 5-6 sacks in each rookie season, but like many newly-drafted DLs, he will likely take a couple years to become fantasy relevant.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Mark Herzlich, WLB Spencer Paysinger, SLB Keith Rivers
Backups: MLB Dan Connor, OLB Aaron Curry, WLB Jacquian Williams, OLB Etienne Sabino, LB Jake Muasau, LB Charles Dieuseul

Starting LBs: The Giants failed to address their holes at linebacker via the draft or free agency. They figure to start the season with Mark Herzlich at middle linebacker and Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers starting on the outside. In terms of fantasy value, there isn't a ton to be had amongst the New York linebacking crew. Of all the projected starters, Mark Herzlich figures to have the most value. He's not spectacular in pass coverage, but may secure an every down role by default. If this turns out to be the case, LB3-/LB3 value is reachable for him. The other starters are best left on the waiver wire.

Backup LBs: The Giants recently signed former 1st round pick Aaron Curry who will compete with Keith Rivers for snaps on the strong side. Dan Connor will likely serve as the first backup to see playing time if there is an injury or one of the starters falters. All in all, there is no one player in this group that is overly exciting from a fantasy or real-life perspective.

Defensive Backs

Starters: LCB Corey Webster, SS Stevie Brown, FS Antrel Rolle, RCB Prince Amukamara
Backups: CB Terrell Thomas, CB Jayron Hosley, CB Aaron Ross, S Ryan Mundy, S Tayler Sash, S Will Hill, CB Terrence Frederick, CB Antonio Dennard, CB Buddy Jackson, CB Laron Scott, CB Trumaine McBride, CB Charles James, S Charles James, S Cooper Taylor (R), S David Caldwell, S Alonzo Tweedy

Starting DBs: Stevie Brown, a former 7th round pick of the Raiders, was launched into the fantasy spotlight after taking over for injured starter Kenny Phillips in Week 4 last year. From that time forward, Brown had six games with 6+ solo tackles and registered 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. However, a torn ACL suffered in the preseason will cause Brown to miss the entire 2013 season and is a big blow to the Giants secondary. He will likely be replaced by veteran Ryan Mundy. Antrel Rolle has been a steady fantasy option for owners the past several seasons and should continue to produce at a DB3+ level. CB Corey Webster was absolutely atrocious last season as opposing quarterbacks had a 106.6 rating when throwing at him. With this said, he's agreed to take a paycut in order to stay with the team and will open the season as the starter. Prince Amukumara played decently in his second season, but hasn't been nearly the player the Giants expected he would be when they drafted him 19th overall in the 2011 draft.

Backup DBs: Like Thomas Davis, Terrell Thomas will attempt to come back from his 3rd ACL tear of his career. He is operating under a restructured one year "prove it" deal and will compete for subpackage snaps. For a brief moment, Thomas was considered a top-notch fantasy cornerback, but injuries have substantially impacted his playing ability. He, along with Aaron Ross, Jayron Hosley, and the rest of the Giants backup secondary are safe to ignore for fantasy purposes.

Last modified: 2014-05-16 00:01:59