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Fantasy Football Friday: Giants Preview

I would give you all an update on the Big Blue View League, but there's nothing to update yet - the draft is scheduled for Monday night. In lieu of that (and at the risk of giving away part of my draft strategy), I figured I'd give you guys my own personal preview of the fantasy implications for our 2009 New York Giants.

Players To Target:

Ahmad Bradshaw - I wrote a piece back in July about my optimism over the running backs not named Brandon Jacobs, and the injury to Andre Brown hasn't dampened my enthusiasm. While I also like Danny Ware, he's a third stringer who isn't going to make much of a fantasy impact. Bradshaw, on the other hand, figures to get most of the playing time that Derek Ward got a year ago, with which Ward racked up 1,000+ yards rushing and 384 yards receiving. I think Bradshaw is a more talented running back than Ward, both out of the backfield and catching the ball. Couple that with the fact that Brandon Jacobs always gets nicked up and is no guarantee to make it through 16 games, and I think #44 is one of the best fantasy sleepers in the whole NFL.

Hakeem Nicks - If you've been paying attention the past two weeks, this shouldn't surprise you. Nicks has looked like the real deal, catching 3 impressive touchdown's against the Jets and Patriots. Nicks is going undrafted in a lot of leagues, and would be a great waiver wire pickup to replace the Isaac Bruce's of the world - especially in keeper leagues. Nicks has the potential to step up and have a big year right off the bat, and it probably wouldn't hurt to have him at the back of your bench.

Kevin Boss - I've said a few times this offseason that I wouldn't be at all surprised if Boss leads the team in receptions this year, and I fully expect him to lead the team in receiving touchdowns, as he did last year. Boss has solid hands, is a good route runner, and is more athletic than people give him credit for. He's not in the Jason Witten/Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates group of tight ends, but I don't think I'm being too big a homer to say he's already in the next group down (he was 3rd in TE touchdown's last year). If there's a run on tight ends and you miss out on the top guys, don't feel bad about waiting a few rounds and coming up with a steal in the Boss Man.

Players to Avoid

Eli Manning - You love the guy. I love the guy. Everyone else hates him. He's got a ring, a Super Bowl MVP, and a big payday. He just finds ways to win football games. All of the above is true. It's also irrelevant when it comes to fantasy football. The fact of the matter is that Eli is just not a top 12 fantasy quarterback. The Giants are a run first, run second, and if it's short enough, run third type of team (except in the playoffs in bad...never mind, I won't go there). Eli just doesn't rack up enough yards or touchdowns to justify making him your starter. As a backup he's not a bad choice, but don't pin your fantasy hopes on his shoulder.

Giants Defense - This one is going to be controversial, and in fact should probably go in the next category, but I've done a few mock drafts and one real one this year, and in every one the Giants defense was taken too high. Avoid the temptation. It's not that I think the Giants D will be bad - far from it. I just don't think they're worth taking in the 10th round, which is generally where they've been going. Last year they were the 10th best fantasy D, finishing behind some teams that are actually going undrafted in some leagues. My personal strategy is never to take a defense before the last two rounds, because I just don't think the value is high enough, and the Giants are no exception. I also usually try to avoid the Giants D for more selfish reasons - I already hate it when teams score against them in real life, why double my torture by having them on my fantasy team?

Players to Take If They Fall to You

Brandon Jacobs - Jacobs is quite possibly my favorite Giants running back ever, and there's nobody in the NFL I enjoy watching more. That said, I just don't feel comfortable taking him in the first round and basically pinning my fantasy hopes on the guy. He is injury prone, he is part of a running back platoon, and he's not exactly Marshall Faulk when it comes to the passing game. That's 3 pretty big strikes against a guy who's going in the 1st round of a lot of drafts. Now, if your second pick comes around and Jacobs is still on the board, by all means go ahead and take him. That's why he's in this category and not the one above.

Domenik Hixon - I honestly don't know what to expect from Hixon this year. I wouldn't be surprised if Nicks became the go-to guy before long, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Hixon ends up having a breakout year. In a lot of ways, his dropped pass against the Eagles last year is sorta representative of how I feel about Hixon this year: I loved that he was able to get so open, but I hated that he dropped the ball. Similarly, for fantasy purposes, I love that Hixon is the #1 receiver with unquestionable physical skills, but I hate that he's been inconsistent on the field and hasn't had a "blow me away" type of preseason. If Hixon is still available as you're picking your final wide receiver in the 12th or 13th round, go for it. If you're taking him before that, I'd pass. I'm not going to write another paragraph, but I feel pretty much the same way about Steve Smith, who I think will have more receptions but less yards than Hixon, and who's role on the team is less in jeapordy if Nicks really does break out.