Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the third installment of the series, we head back to the NFC East and to the New York Giants who under-performed at running back in 2009, but displayed a much improved passing game.
The 8-8 Giants were eighth in scoring at 25.1 ppg, but gave up 26.7 ppg which was 30th out of 32 NFL teams. The defensive lapses probably helped bring about the disappointing running game statistics because the team was behind on the scoreboard more than in past years. This led to a run-pass ratio of 45-55 in 2009 vs. a 51-49 ratio in 2008.
Eli Manning - From a statistical point of view, Manning had the best year of his six-year career. He threw for more yards (4,021), more touchdowns (27) and had a higher passing rating (93.1) than in any other season. He finished 10th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring which made him a "bargain" as the No.16 QB off the board in 2009. But the numbers were more out of necessity than Coach Tom Coughlin's desire to throw that much and he could easily revert to previous performance levels if the running game gets going and/or the defense plays better and allows the offense to call a more conservative gameplan. Manning is currently the 14th quarterback selected in early 2010 mock fantasy drafts which means owners aren't convinced he will repeat last year's results. He's a low- end starter (2010 ADP 102), or better yet, part of a two-quarterback strategy.
Brandon Jacobs - Jacobs was one of a half-a-dozen extremely disappointing running backs throughout the league (Matt Forte, Brian Westbrook, Steve Slaton, Clinton Portis, Marion Barber). Jacobs' problems were primarily injury related (knee). Though he played in 15 games versus 11 in 2007 and 13 in 2008, he carried the ball about the same number of times (224 vs. 219 vs. 201). He was not nearly as explosive and his rush average dropped from 5.0 ypc to 3.7 ypc. He also scored nine fewer times in 2009 and fell to 30th among all fantasy running backs. Unless Jacobs' knee magically heals itself, it appears that his explosiveness is gone. Fantasy owners have noted the change and he's dropped from a second-round selection in 2009 (ADP 14.4) to the fifth round (current ADP 57).
Ahmad Bradshaw - When 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Ward signed with Tampa Bay, Bradshaw took over the "speed" role in the Giants backfield next to Jacobs. And when he was healthy, he is good at it. Unfortunately he played injured most of the season. Still, he posted 778 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 4.8 ypc. Bradshaw had multiple offseason surgeries on his feet and ankle and will likely see only spot action in summer camp and preseason games. Neither Danny Ware, Gartrell Johnson or Andre Brown are likely to unseat Bradshaw from his role and he will be a solid No.2 fantasy running back with a current ADP around 90.
Steve Smith - Smith led a surprisingly good receiving corps, one which was thought to be a weakness, after the loss of Plaxico Burress. Smith got off to a very fast start with four touchdowns and 411 yards in the first four games, but cooled a bit the rest of the way. Still, he ended up with 1,220 yards on 107 receptions and seven scores. He was a huge bargain last year with his ADP of 133, but will be hard-pressed to overachieve in 2010 with a much lower ADP of 42.
Hakeem Nicks - Nicks was at less than 100% for most of last year (foot, toe), but showed a lot of ability when he was out there. In the off-season he had wrist and toe surgeries. He has a nose for the endzone and could be a solid No.2 fantasy receiver, but is slightly overpriced at the moment as a end-of- the-fifth round selection (ADP 60).
Mario Manningham - Fantasy owners have Manningham pegged as the odd man out among the three leading Giants receivers as shown by his current ADP of 147 (13th round). He had a couple of big games in 2009, but barring injury should be limited by Smith and Nicks' playing time.
Domenik Hixon - Hixon's primary contribution to the Giants will be as a return specialist which will severely limit his fantasy value.
Kevin Boss - Boss isn't a bad tight end (42-567-5), it's just that the position is loaded this year. In a league with Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley, Brent Celek, Owen Daniels, Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, Chris Cooley and Visanthe Shiancoe, there is no value to putting Boss on your fantasy roster.
Lawrence Tynes - Tynes finished eighth in scoring last year, but is getting very little attention in early mock drafts. He's not being drafted in the top-13 kickers at this time. It's possible that kicking outdoors in late December and January in New York has fantasy owners looking to warmer climates and indoors for more reliable kicking condition.
The Giants gave up a ton of yards and points in 2009 and finished 21st among defenses, averaging just 5.0 ppg. They collected 32 sacks, 11 fumbles, 13 interceptions and two defensive/return touchdowns, but that's not enough to be a starting defense in fantasy football. The Giants went for defense early in the college draft to shore up their weaknesses and added safety Antrel Rolle through free agency. They are currently the 11th defense off the board.