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The Devil Went Down to Training Camp

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Wide Receivers

(Starter) Hakeem Nicks – He is their No. 1 receiver. In redraft leagues he should not ever make it out of Round 2. In dynasty leagues he should be one of the top 4-5 wide receivers taken. He is an absolute stud plain and simple. He has had some minor injury issues in the past and recently broke his foot, but has always managed to fight through the injuries and put up very good numbers. He should be ready for the first game, as he says “he is a fast healer.” I expect a slow start for him recovering from the foot and getting his conditioning back, but he should still have a very nice year.

(Starter) Victor Cruz – As rock solid as Nicks is in his No. 1 receiver role, Cruz is just as locked into the No. 2 role. He will remain in the slot, though, which is great news as he is one of the best in the NFL from the slot position. He will see a slight reduction in fantasy points this year, as a repeat of his record-setting year is not likely. He is good enough to take as your No. 1 fantasy receiver if you need him to be and is a steal in Round 3 of any draft.

(Bench) Rueben Randle – He is pro ready. That is what you hear about Randle from just about everyone. However, Kevin Gilbride, his offensive coordinator, does not like hearing about pro ready players. There is too much to learn at this point to really judge his skills, too much thinking to really shine. With that all said, he has really impressed people in rookie minicamp and organized team activities. He has the size and skills to play the outside receiver opposite Nicks, but how fast will he learn the Giants playbook?

(Bench) Jerrel Jernigan – With Mario Manningham going off to San Francisco, there is a huge chance for someone to step up, and Jerrel Jernigan has as good a chance as any of the receivers on the roster. It will be interesting to see him battle Randle and Ramses Barden as they are all very different receivers. Jernigan has blazing speed and the Giants will certainly try to exploit that this year. He is the Da’Rel Scott of the wide receiver corps. He has a year of learning under his belt and will not only compete for the receiving job, but the return duties as well.

(Bench) Dominik Hixon –If Jernigan is the Da’Rel Scott, then Hixon is the DJ Ware. He has several years with the Giants and knows the playbook very well. The coaching staff knows they can count on him to do things the right way when needed. He may not be as skillful as the younger guys, but his experience will be a big advantage. Hixon also stated that he is going to compete for return duties this year again.

(Bench) Ramses Barden – Giants fans were in love with Ramses Barden the day they drafted him. Seeing a similar style of play to Plaxico Burress, they dreamt of Barden running fade routes into the end zone. Well that has not really happened. The coaching staff does like Barden and have commented on how well he caught the ball for them last year, when he got the chance. I think it will be very tough for him to beat out this deep pool of talent around him, but size is the one thing you can’t teach. Or is it speed? Well either way he is the largest receiver on the team and that has to count for something.

Overall – Nicks will recover and be fine, but his missed time in organized team activities, training camp and the preseason games will be a great way to measure who is winning the battle for No. 3. Cruz is as good as and better than most teams’ No. 1 receiver and should be treated as such. Hixon will likely be the early lead for the No. 3 spot, but Jernigan and Randle will be the true battle for that spot as they get experience and learn the playbook. Barden has an off chance to win a top role, but likely won’t be more than a red zone threat or injury replacement.

Tight Ends

Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum – Figure I would save space and just put these two together. The Giants are probably the first team to win a Super Bowl in which both of their top tight ends tore an ACL. Their return is unknown at this time, and until they are back 100 percent they should be avoided.

Martellus Bennett – Man I was excited when the Giants signed this guy. Thought he could be a diamond in the rough, a stud that sat behind the great Jason Witten and just didn’t get his chance. Well I am now thinking I was way off. Bennett showed up to organized team activities with the defending Champions weighing 291 pounds. Just to be clear he is a tight end, not an offensive lineman. To make things worse, his legs couldn’t take the extra 30 pounds and he injured his hamstring. That lead to the Giants’ tight end coach, Mike Pope, saying “we run a lot more than he might have been accustomed to.”

Bear Pascoe – Enter Bear Pascoe. He was the one that stepped up in the Super Bowl when the Giants needed a tight end. Pascoe proved to be more than a blocking tight end when he caught four passes for 33 yards in the Super Bowl. On top of that, he was a free agent this offseason and the Giants re-signed him. He knows this team, their playbook and how to practice like a champion. Someone else on this team might take the job from Pascoe, but with his solid blocking skills and improving catching ability it is his job to lose.

Adrien Robinson – With their fourth-round pick in the draft, the Giants picked up Robinson from Cincinnati. People did not give a lot of credit to Robinson, and many places had him projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick. However, those people are not the general manager or head coach of the Super Bowl Champion Giants. Jerry Reese called Robinson the “Jason Pierre-Paul of tight ends” and Tom Coughlin added to that by saying he is “very athletic.” Like all rookies he will need to earn a starting role before he has a lot of fantasy value, but keep an eye on him in the preseason and as the season moves forward. Pierre-Paul had a slow start as well, but started to put things together halfway through his first year. Robinson will get the same chance.

Overall – This position is pretty much wide open. With two guys sidelined with ACL injuries, another one coming to camp 30 pounds overweight, a blocking tight end trying to transition to pass catcher and a rookie, there is no telling who will win out. My prediction is that Pascoe gets the early work and as things start to click for Robinson he will get more and more playing time. Bennett will need to lose weight and heal his hamstring before he does anything worthy of a roster spot (fantasy wise). Robinson has the most upside though and is most likely to make any fantasy impact.

Offensive Line

I know there are no offensive linemen in typical fantasy football leagues, but the offensive line has a huge impact on this team. The offensive line was bashed by everyone last year, but Eli Manning was sacked less than 30 times and threw for almost 5,000 yards. The line is changing this year with David Baas, Chris Snee, David Diehl, Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe and James Brewer all competing for starting jobs. Mitch Petrus will pressure for a starting guard role as well. With a mix of veterans and youth this squad should be much better in the run game this year, and remain solid in pass protection.

That is a look at the New York Giants from a fantasy outlook. This offense is high-powered with some very good talent. There are some roles to be filled and some sleeper picks that will emerge. As always, keep an eye on training camp and preseason to see how position battles are going, and remember that the young guys might take a while to start to shine.

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