2015 Team Outlook: New York Giants
The Giants have been on the decline over the past two years and haven't made the playoff since 2011, when they won the Super Bowl. Their offense bounced back to finish 13th in scoring (380 points) and 10th in total yards (367.2 per game) after they ranked 28th in both categories in 2013. Tom Coughlin returns for his 12th season as the head coach. He is 96-80 with Giants and has claimed two Super Bowl titles. He has a career record of 164-140 through 19 seasons. Ben McAdoo returns for his second season as the offensive coordinator after helping improve the offense in 2014. Steve Spagnuolo has returned to be the defensive coordinator. He held the same position for the Giants in 2007 and 2008. New York won the Super Bowl in that latter year. Spagnuolo spent three years as the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. He was the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2012 and spent the past couple of campaigns with the Baltimore Ravens. Last year, the Giants allowed the fourth-most yards (375.8 per game) and the 10th-most points (400). New York has made the playoffs 15 times and has won four Super Bowls over the past 34 years.
Starting center J.D. Walton left to play for the Miami Dolphins. He struggled in run and pass blocking during his fifth season.
Safety Antrel Rolle signed with the Chicago Bears, and safety Stevie Brown moved on to the Houston Texans. Rolle is at the end of his career. Last year, he struggled in run support. Brown delivered below-league-average value as a part-time player. Cornerback Zackary Bowman, now with the Dolphins as well, struggled in pass coverage as a part-time player. Linebacker J.T. Thomas had no value against the run in his first season with starter snaps playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive end George Selvie was brought aboard for depth on the D-line. Last year with the Dallas Cowboys, he registered just three sacks, but he was a solid force against the run.
Shane Vereen was added to upgrade the Giants' passing game out of the backfield. The change-of-pace back will have upside on third and long-distance downs. Dwayne Harris was signed for his dangerous kick return skills and to possibly be another receiving option for Eli Manning.
In the first round, the Giants drafted guard Ereck Flowers. He has high upside as a run blocker due to his quickness and plus strength. His pass-blocking skills will improve with better technique.
With their second pick, New York added safety Landon Collins, who will add a physical presence to the run defense; he is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage. He has decent speed, but Collins can't keep up with receivers who have deep speed, plus he needs to add some strength.
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa was selected in the third. He showed plus athleticism, speed and quickness at this year's combine, but his talents don't always translate on to the field. He will have value against the run. His pass-rushing techniques need improvement.
The Giants drafted safety Mykkele Thompson in the fifth round. He'll add plus speed to the position but has questionable quickness and strength.
New York added wide receiver Geremy Davis in the sixth. He has plus strength and good route-running skills but not much speed. Davis, at 6 feet 2, 216 pounds, may add value at the goal line.
In the last round, the Giants went for guard Bobby Hart. He is slow-footed and must get stronger. His best contributions will come in the run game.
New York Giants OT Ereck Flowers
The Giants finished 23rd in rushing with 1,603 yards. Their RBs averaged only 3.6 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns.
Left tackle Will Beatty was a much better pass protector in 2014 (three sacks, 10 QB hits and 19 QB hurries) than in 2013 (13 sacks, seven QB hits and 39 QB hurries). Will tends to be an asset in the run game. However, he will probably miss the first couple of months this season after tearing a pectoral muscle in May.
Left guard Justin Pugh showed growth in his pass protection last year after struggling as a rookie, but he still allowed six sacks. He offered negative value in run blocking after playing well in this area in 2013.
Center Weston Richburg didn't play well in his rookie season after the Giants took him in the second round. He showed weaknesses in run and pass blocking. Weston allowed two sacks, seven QB hits and 16 QB hurries.
Right guard Geoff Schwartz played in just two games last season due to toe and ankle injuries. In his career, Geoff has been a good run blocker with league-average value in pass protection.
Flowers is actually filling in for Beatty right now at left tackle. Marshall Newhouse has been kicked in at right tackle.
This line clearly has some risk. Manning's quick release helps minimize the sack count (only 30 last year), but he can't help the small running lanes this line creates. New York really needs Flowers to make an impact in his rookie season. Overall, this line has a couple of solid players and a few question marks.
The above chart shows the Giants' 2015 offensive strength of schedule in terms of rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA) and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2014 stats, which we will work with as our starting point for 2015. We'll look at all the changes on offense for each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades each team has made on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish researching all 32 teams.
2014 Average: The league average of each stat from all 32 teams in 2014.
2014 Results: The results for each specific team in the NFL.
2015 Adjustment: The difference between a team's result and the league average in a certain statistic. This number will show if a team is above or below the league average in each stat and will serve as the basis for the strength of schedule.
The Giants will face one tough run defense -- the New York Jets -- and one weak run defense -- the New Orleans Saints. The most favorable matchups for their passing game will be the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles (twice). The toughest matchups in this area are the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers.
Running backs accounted for 16.2 percent of Manning's completions. Tight ends accounted for 22.2 percent. The wide receivers caught 241 passes for 3,140 yards and 19 touchdowns.
QB Eli Manning, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
Week 14 DFS Update (12/13): Over his last seven games, Manning has six games with two TDs or less and one impact game (350 yards and six TDs). On the year, Manning has four games with 300+ passing yards and three games with three TDs or more. Miami ranks 21st in the league in NFL QB Fantasy defense, with two teams scoring over 30 Fantasy points and six teams scoring fewer than 20 Fantasy points. QBs have 24 passing TDs and four 300-yard passing games vs. the Dolphins. More steady than explosive.
Week 13 DFS Update (12/3): Manning has over 300 yards passing in back-to-back games (361 and 321), but his completion rate has been short in both games (54.6 and 51.0). Manning is the 10th ranked QB in 2015, with 3,021 passing yards and 23 TDs. He has four games with more than 300 yards passing in his last seven starts, while throwing 16 TDs and eight Ints. The Jets fell to 15th in QB Fantasy defense after allowing over 300 yards passing for the 4th time in their last six games, with 15 combined passing TDs allowed over this stretch. Fading defense with their best CB possibly missing another game points to an uptick game for Manning.
There is one reason and one reason only why Manning had a bounce-back season in 2014. That reason goes by the name of Odell Beckham. Eli recorded the second-best season of his career (4,410 passing yards, 30 TDs). He set career highs in completions (379), pass attempts (601) and completion percentage (63.1). Manning had three 300-yard games and one 400-yarder. He had three games with at least three touchdowns. This season, he'll have Beckham for the entire year, but with Victor Cruz recovering from major knee surgery, Rueben Randle is his only other strong receiving option. Manning racked up the stats last year because the Giants couldn't run the ball and were brutal on defense. I'm sure the Giants would like for their offense to be more balanced, so don't expect a repeat from Eli. He should still reach 4,000 yards and at least 28 scores. He's a borderline top-10 Fantasy QB.
New York Giants QB Eli Manning
RB Shane Vereen, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
Week 14 DFS Update (12/13): Vereen has failed to produce a winning score in his last four games. He hasn't had over 10 touches in a game since Week 5. He has no rushing TDs with three games of value at this price point (95 combined yards with eight catches, 110 combined yards with eight catches and a TD, and 63 combined yards with eight catches, and a TD). Miami can be beat by RBs in the passing game (64/532/5), but Vereen really only has 20 point Fantasy upside if game flow pointed in his direction.
Week 13 DFS Update (12/5): Vereen only has 63 combined yards on 12 touches in his last two games. On the year he is averaging 7.9 touches per game, with two 20-point Fantasy games (110 combined yards, a TD and eight catches and 63 combined yards, a TD and eight catches). RBs have 58 catches for 505 yards and four TDs vs. the Jets. Only worth a gamble if tied up with Eli Manning.
Shane has high upside as a pass catcher and could very easily emerge as the Giants' third receiving option behind Beckham and Randle. Over the past two years, Vereen has caught 99 passes for 874 yards in 24 games with the New England Patriots. He won't provide much on the ground, especially with Jennings and Williams on the roster. He should be in line for about 100 touches, 550 yards and a few TDs. He'll have more production if injuries continue to get the best of Jennings.
New York Giants RB Shane Vereen
UPDATE (11/20): Darkwa's impressive performance on the practice field has earned him touches on Sunday. He has become a member of a four-man committee and even led the team in carries one week. Over the past four weeks, he received 23 carries and averaged 4.7 yards per carry and punched in a touchdown. If an injury thins out the Giants' backfield, Darkwa could be a valuable asset to have stashed.
RB Rashad Jennings, --- - Quality Backup
Week 13 DFS Update (12/5): Jennings scored his only rushing TD in Week 1. He has fewer than 65 rushing in each game this year while gaining only 3.8 YPC. He is averaging only 12 touches per game with low value in the passing game (21 catches) as well. The Jets are one of the better teams in the league vs. the run so this low glimmer of hope is fading with each word I write.
In Week 3, Jennings ran for 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. That was the high point of his season. A bad ankle sprain cost him five games and limited him in two others. Rashad had six games with 20 touches or more. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry, which was a step back from 2013 (4.5 YPC). His lack of success was partly due to poor O-line play. He's a talented player but one with injury risk. Plus, Shane Vereen will cut into his receiving numbers. Jennings will even lose some carries at the goal line to Andre Williams. Even if healthy for a full season, I think Jennings will get only 225 touches, about 1,000 total yards, 30 catches and a small handful of TDs. That puts him in low-end RB2 territory.
RB Andre Williams, --- - Fantasy Handcuff
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Andre's senior season at Boston College was impressive (2,177 yards on 355 carries with 18 TDs), but it was a huge step up from his previous resume, and he was helped by a powerful offensive line. Williams is pure power back with very little wiggle. He looks stiff while running upright, but he has surprising, 4.56 40 speed for a 230-pound back, especially when he breaks into the second level of the defense. Andre will break arm tackles and finishes his runs with power. He has excellent leg drive and good vision. His hands had no value in college (10 career catches for 60 yards). His hands were better than expected at the combine, but he's still not much of a receiver. His value could be hit or miss in the NFL. His style won't work behind a poor offensive line, but he could be electric in the right offense with a plus blocking scheme. There wasn't a lot excitement in the Williams' game during his rookie year. He finished with the most touches on the team (235), but Andre averaged only 3.3 yards per rush. Williams started to show growth in two of his last four games when he had a pair of 100-yard outings. New York gave him 20-plus carries in three of his 16 games. I expect growth in 2015, but he'll enter the year as the Giants' No. 2 early-down back behind Jennings. Andre has a chance to grab 150 touches, 600-plus yards and lead the team in rushing touchdowns. He has low upside, but he's a must-own handcuff if you draft Jennings.
WR Odell Beckham, CLE - Stud (low risk)
Week 14 DFS Update (12/13): Beckham has five straight 100-yard receiving games with six TDs. Over his last four games he has averaged 14.5 targets per game. His success has pushed him to 4th in WR scoring in PPR leagues. Overall, he has seven 100-yard receiving games and 10 TDs, while averaging 11.1 targets per game. This week he'll be matchuped with CB Brent Grimes who has faded of late. Brandon Marshall beat him up pretty good two weeks ago. Grimes doesn't have the talent to matchup with Beckham in single coverage. Very winnable matchup so his targets should remain high this week.
Week 13 DFS Update (12/5): Beckham's late season rise is gaining momentum. He has four straight 100-yard receiving games with five TDs, while averaging 15.6 targets in his last three games. On the year he has six 100-yard receiving games and nine TDs, while averaging 11.1 targets per game. The Jets are hoping to have CB Darrelle Revis back in the starting lineup. The Giants will move Beckham around to get him matched up with the Jets' two weaker CBs. The Jets have given up 10 TDs to WRs in the last five games. Exciting upside with multi-TD ability.
After missing the first four games due to a hamstring injury, Beckham was eased into action in Weeks 5 and 6, catching six of his nine targets for 72 yards with a TD. Cruz's injury opened the door for Beckham, who was a starter in the final 10 games of the season. In those contests, Beckham caught 85 of 121 targets for 1,233 yards and 11 TDs. His projected 16-game line included a ridiculous 136 catches, 1,973 yards and 18 scores. As impressive as his entire rookie season was, Odell played at a level never seen in the NFL over his final four games (43 catches, 606 yards and seven touchdowns on 73 targets). A 16-game projection of that stretch would spit out insane stats. To me, he has the same skill set as Antonio Brown, but Beckham has more upside as Manning has fewer options than Ben Roethlisberger. Odell should be in position to catch 120-plus passes for 1500-plus yards and a dozen or more TDs. His value is just behind the top three-down RBs. Beckham will be a top-five pick this summer.
New York Giants WR Odell Beckham