Is Eli Manning overpaid? Uh, yeah.Is he an elite quarterback? It’s arguable, either way.
What isn’t arguable, however, is that this New York Giants team is built to last on both sides of the ball, and regardless of any “key” losses they’ve had, they should still contend for their division, at the very worst.
Then again, they looked as if they were destined to repeat for much of last season, until they collapsed out of nowhere and called it a season in their first playoff game.
Will that happen again? In today’s NFL, the only answer I can think of is “if they’re lucky”.
They have a hard-nosed turned softy coach (just kidding) and an overpaid quarterback who isn’t nearly as good as the rest of the world thinks he is.
Are those problems? Not really. Read on to see what the New York Giants should be concerned about in 2009.
5. Can Ahmad Bradshaw Be Derrick Ward?
While Derrick Ward’s departure leaves a 1,000-yard gap, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be Ahmad Bradshaw’s to fill.
If healthy, Brandon Jacobs figures to handle the bulk of the carries. However, if Jacobs’ reckless style of play were to have Bradshaw starting, there’s no reason to think why he can’t keep the Giants’ offense operating correctly.
With yardage jumps of 190 yards and over eight yards per carry in his rookie season, to 355 yards last season (five yards per carry), it’s evident Bradshaw can produce at a high level and makes the most of his chances.
4. Which Rookie Receiver Will Step-Up?
We know Steve Smith is starting in the slot, and Domenik Hixon’s experience and solid play should keep him as the No. 1 receiver.
However, the second starting spot is up for grabs, with two rookies, Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, Sinorice Moss, and David Tyree battling it out.
Tyree has yet to stay healthy enough to try to live up to his 2007 Super Bowl helmet catch, which could likely end up in a release in favor of the younger, more talented receivers.
Moss has been a complete bust, hence the addition of Barden and Nicks, who should make Moss expendable, or at the very best, the fifth option.
Both rookie receivers are immensely talented, but Nicks appears to run more polished routes and has proven to have reliable hands.
Barden, on the other hand, has a continuous case of the “dropsies” and also hasn’t look very fast in camps.
Look for Nicks to have the job, and possibly even beat-out Domenik Hixon.
3. Are Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith the Answers?
He may not be Plaxico Burress, but in his first season with major action as a starter, Hixon performed fairly well.
The Giants brought in reinforcements, though, to “aid” Hixon and fellow starter, Steve Smith, as well as push them competitively.
Quite honestly, it was a youth/talent movement. Hence the lack of true desire to bring back a 35-year-old Amani Toomer or a 30-year-old Plaxico Burress.
While Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden are sound additions to the receiving corps, Hixon and Smith are still too talented to not get a fair shake as the starters.
2. Can Brandon Jacobs Stay Healthy?
Jacobs topped 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2008, and that was while sharing the backfield with fellow 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Ward sharing the ball.
Oh, and he missed three games.
Jacobs’ tough, physical running style has garnered praise from teammates and opponents, alike, but his reckless style of play causes worry in New York, and for good reason.
While it’s impossible to predict if he’ll play a full 16 games (I doubt it), what is easy to predict is his likely impact, regardless of the amount of games he suits up for.
Jacobs is the Giants’ offense now, and as long as he’s on the field, the “G-Men” will pound the ball, and will do it well.
So, can Brandon Jacobs stay healthy?
Sure. I just wouldn’t bet on it.
1. Will the Defense Remain Dominant Without Steve Spagnuolo?
As long as the new defensive coordinator runs the aggressive style Spagnuulo did, the talent should take care of the rest.
Despite losing Osi Umenyiora, the Giants still ranked sixth in the league in sacks, and fifth in scoring.
The additional loss of Michael Strahan to retirement only displayed the great depth the Giants had in their line-men, and in turn made two defensive ends, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, stars of their defense.
The addition of Chris Canty through free agency and Clint Sintim via the NFL Draft shows progress on an already nasty defense, one that should continue playing well.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Friday, September 11, 2009
(Calvin Johnson has already arrived.)
Everyone knows the old cliche’ about wide receivers. They don’t always make an immediate impact as rookies, and despite having natural talent, usually take a while to carve a niche with their team.
About three years, to be exact.
Not everyone can be Randy Moss and bust out 17 touchdowns in their first try, or like last year’s Eddie Royal, and haul in 91 receptions.
No, sometimes fantasy owners and NFL teams are forced to go the traditional route and wait.
Here’s a look at the wide receivers from the 2007 NFL Draft, who are entering their third season, with analysis on their progress and role with their team.
(This article will only analyze those receivers taken in the 2007 draft.)
1. Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
Johnson is arguably a top-three fantasy receiver, depending on who you’re talking to.
Despite not having a dependable quarterback, or any sort of supporting cast, Johnson racked up over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008.
The new regime is reportedly enamored with Johnson (how couldn’t they be?), as he’s poised to match last year’s numbers, and possibly add to them.
Prediction: 85 rec., 1,479 yards, 13 TD
2. Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs)
Bowe has already made a quiet name for himself, as he was the second-best weapon (behind Tony Gonzalez) on Kansas City’s offense in 2008.
With Matt Cassel coming to town, Bowe should easily crack 1,000 yards again with a pass-happy system and an upgrade at the signal caller position.
Bowe has already showed glimpses of his potential with 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons. This should be his break-out year.
Prediction: 87 rec, 1,244 yards, nine TD
3. Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis Colts)
Gonzalez has been showing for the past two years that his speed and hands are more than able to make up for the loss of future Hall of Famer, Marvin Harrison.
His chemistry with Peyton Manning improves with every day of practice, and there’s no doubt Gonzelez can improve (and will) on his 2008 numbers of 57 catches, 664 yards, and four scores.
Prediction: 81 rec, 1,209 yards, eight TD
4. Ted Ginn Jr. (Miami Dolphins)
Ginn has progressed slower than many had hoped, but he has still shown flashes of electric play-making ability, and has starred as a solid return man, too.
His role has been increasing in the offense over his two years with the team, and to avoid the Wildcat offense from getting predictable, his production will have to increase.
Prediction: 74 rec, 1,088 yards, seven TD
5. Steve Breaston (Arizona Cardinals)
Breaston has been quite impressive already, as he topped 1,000 yards as the Cardinals reliable third option.
Apparently it’s not very difficult to get open when you have Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin taking all the attention from the secondary. Go figure.
Breaston has already “broken out” more than he or anyone else could have hoped, considering he was the third option last year, and will continue to be in 2009.
His numbers are likely to dip a bit, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already “arrived.”
Prediction: 72 rec, 955 yards, five TD
6. Steve Smith (New York Giants)
With Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer out of town, Steve Smith is likely to pair up with Domenik Hixon (at least in the early going), and will have a legitimate chance at locking down a starting role.
Smith has good hands and is a solid route runner, and also possesses underrated speed and quickness. If he and Manning can continue the chemistry that landed him 57 catches and over 500 yards.
Prediction: 79 rec, 855 yards, three TD
7. Sidney Rice (Minnesota Vikings)
Rice battled injuries last year, taking him down a peg after putting forth solid effort in his rookie year.
With the potential (and likely) addition of Brett Favre, Rice could easily develop into a solid red-zone target, and could also be a decent down-field threat, as his speed has gotten better every year.
Prediction: 58 rec, 744 yards, six TD
8. James Jones (Green Bay Packers)
Jones and fellow slot receiver candidate, Jordy Nelson, both arguably have the talent right now to unseat Donald Driver.
Unfortunately, they will have to settle (at least for 2009) for fighting over third receiver duties.
While Nelson appears to have the upper hand with better size, speed, and hands, Jones may have more ability after the catch, making him a better fit for the slot.
Regardless, Green Bay’s system leaves the door open for tons of yards and scores to go around, especially as Aaron Rodgers matures.
Prediction: 46 rec, 690 yards, five TD
9. Johnnie Lee Higgins (Oakland Raiders)
Higgins is in line for contending for a starting role, and may end up with one of the starting gigs, almost by default.
Seventh overall selection, Darrius Heyward-Bey, has been slowed for the past month with injuries, and Javon Walker hasn’t been able to put forth 100 percent of his effort in over a year.
Higgins was a highlight reel waiting to happen on returns (three scores), and it’s clear Oakland coaches will do what is necessary to get the ball in his hands.
Prediction: 45 rec, 722 yards, four TD
10. Mike Walker (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones are gone, which leaves the door open for Walker to step in and snag the spot opposite of Torry Holt.
Walker has the skills needed to make the jump, and in limited action, has impressed.
Prediction: 44 rec, 596 yards, three TD
11. Laurent Robinson (St. Louis Rams)
Robinson was a bit of a disappointment in Atlanta, which prompted the Falcons to send him packing to St. Louis.
Now Robinson is a better environment to utilize his skills, but will also have some young talent around him, making his production difficult to gauge.
Prediction: 42 rec, 539 yards, four TD
12. Jason Hill (San Francisco 49ers)
Until further notice, Michael Crabtree and Isaac Bruce are not starters, while Josh Morgan and Jason Hill are.
Hill has good after-the-catch ability, and could snag a spot in the slot, regardless of the play of Crabtree.
Prediction: 39 rec, 477 yards, three TD
13. Chansi Stuckey (New York Jets)
Stuckey burst onto the scene early last year with some nice catches and decent performances, as he and Brett Favre formed some solid chemistry.
However, that eroded mid-way through the season, and we never saw that confident, rising receiver again.
It’s unlikely he’ll reach his potential with Kellen Clemens or a first-year Mark Sanchez throwing him the ball, but he’s a better bet than, say, a Titans receiver.
Prediction: 41 rec, 505 yards, four TD
14. Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints)
Meachem only makes this list because Drew Brees spreads the ball around more than Fabio spreads I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and that Saints offense is insanely sick.
He can still run with the best of them, and even as their fourth option, could still put up some decent numbers.
Prediction: 33 rec, 421 yards, three TD
15. Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina Panthers)
Muhsin Muhammad won’t be around forever to rescue Steve Smith from double teams. Come to think of it, I’m not sure he was that great at it last year.
Jarrett isn’t guaranteed slot duties, and is still in a run-first offense. But if he can show he can get it done in pre-season, he could prove to be a dangerous weapon with Steve Smith distracting the secondary.
Like many receivers, though, he’ll have to start slow.
Prediction: 22 rec, 311 yards, four TD
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Friday, July 24, 2009
Categories: Fantasy Football
Tags: anthony gonzalez, arizona cardinals, atlanta falcons, Calvin Johnson, Carolina Panthers, Chansi Stuckey, Detroit Lions, Dwayne Bowe, Dwayne Jarrett, Fantasy Football, indianapolis colts, jacksonville jaguars, james jones, Jason Hill, Johnnie Lee Higgins, kansas city chiefs, Laurent Robinson, miami dolphins, Mike Walker, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, new york jets, NFL, oakland raiders, Robert Meachem, San Francisco 49ers, Sidney Rice, St. Louis Rams, Steve Breaston, Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr.
After going through the top 50 players in the league who provide good potential but give you reason to worry, I decided to put together a smaller list of guys that you shouldn’t think twice about drafting.
Drew Brees (pictured) doesn’t even have to be on the list. But a better example there is not.
Outside of a freak, Tom Brady-like injury, Brees should easily top 4,500 yards again and could flirt with 30 scores for the second straight year.
He is clearly what makes that potent offense go, and with a healthy arsenal of weapons all around him, there’s no reason to doubt him or the Saints in 2009.
But Brees is just the first of many players you shouldn’t second-guess.
However, sometimes when you’re drafting, those “guarantees” will fly off the board, and you’re left with too many decisions and not enough real answers.
Read on to see if the players you’re targeting in your draft are “sure things.”
(List is in no particular order.)
1. Randy Moss, WR, New England Patriots
This isn’t Oakland or Minnesota.
Randy Moss is playing dominant football, and he’s doing it with a smile.
Even without his stud quarterback, Tom Brady, he had a solid 2008, with over 1,000 yards and 10 scores.
He may not get back to 23 touchdowns, but with Brady and that offense gearing for a potential return to 2007 form, he’s as safe a bet as any star receiver.
Prediction: 84 rec, 1,390 yards, 15 TD
2. Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots
Much like Moss, Welker benefits from a great New England system, as well as the return of 2007′s NFL MVP, Tom Brady.
Again, like Moss, the most beautiful part about this receiver is that even without his star quarterback, his production really didn’t drop off too much.
Mark him down for two straight seasons with at least 111 catches and 1,100 yards.
I’d bet on a third.
Prediction: 115 rec, 1,224 yards, 7 TD
3. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Manning won’t miss Marvin Harrison as much as many think.
Harrison has been on a downward slide for two seasons now, and Manning has been able to build great chemistry with his No. 1 guy, Reggie Wayne, as well as Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez.
Gonzalez gives the Colts the speed Harrison “used” to have, as well as reliable hands and good route-running.
With offensive coordinator Tom Moore back under contract, you can safely assume Manning should be in line for his usual 26-plus touchdowns and 4,000-plus yards.
You can talk about age (33) and last year’s knee surgery all you want, but the guy has never tossed fewer than 26 touchdowns and has passed for less than 4,000 yards just twice in his entire career.
Oh, and he was the league’s MVP last year. Yeah, he’s still got it.
Prediction: 4,177 yards, 30 TD, 14 INT
4. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
t’s as simple as this: If you’re even remotely sold on Manning continuing his dominance (he will), then Wayne is your second man in line.
He’s basically been Manning’s go-to guy for the past two years, anyways (sorry Marvin).
The guy is just entering his prime at 30 years old and is only one season removed from a sickening 104-catch, 1,500-yard season.
Expect a return to his 2007 form, or very close to it.
Prediction: 97 rec, 1,388 yards, 11 TD
5. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Sure, Gates’ receptions have gone from 89 to 71 to 75, and then all the way down to 60 last year.
But he hasn’t scored fewer than eight touchdowns since his rookie year.
Yeah, that’s five straight years of being the league’s best tight end.
However, his bum toe has taken him out of his title spot (you’re welcome, Jason Witten), and now he mostly settles for touchdowns as the Chargers’ third receiving option.
Gates should be close to full health in 2009, though, which should mean fewer plays as a decoy and anywhere from 15 to 30 more grabs.
If all else fails, you have his insane touchdown production to fall back on.
Prediction: 80 rec, 985 yards, 12 TD
6. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers
Like his teammate Gates, Tomlinson played through nagging injuries in 2008 that slowed him down and kept him from being his usual electrifying self.
L.T. put up solid numbers (1,110 yards and 11 TD) in what experts called a “down” year.
That may be true, but only because L.T. has shown us for so many years what he is capable of.
The franchising of Darren Sproles means that L.T.’s production is very unlikely to get back anywhere close to his majestic 2006 season, and possibly not even his elite 2007 production.
However, he’s still in his prime, and if he can do damage with all the injuries he had last year, he definitely has another year or two of quality production.
He may not be a surefire No. 1-4 pick, but he’s still a first-rounder.
Prediction: 1,390 yards, 12 TD, 55 rec, 477 yards, 3 TD
7. Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins
Too much focus has been put on Portis’s late-season slump in 2008, where he failed to rush for a touchdown over a seven-game span and finished the season with less than 80 rushing yards in five straight contests.
His yards per carry was pretty pitiful down the stretch, too.
But here’s where common sense comes to the rescue.
The entire offense was pathetic during the last eight games, and a lot of that had to do with Jason Campbell’s lack of a killer instinct and Jim Zorn’s offense becoming too predictable.
Portis should be good for another hot start as the offense continues to grow and the other young weapons around him mature.
Be aware of the possibility of another late-season collapse, but at just 27, that’s a bit of a reach.
Prediction: 1,466 yards, 10 TD, 35 rec, 349 yards, 2 TD
8. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
While everyone else is reaching for Donald Driver or Jerricho Cotchery as their WR3, you can smile with confidence as you snag Witten as YOUR third receiving option.
With Terrell Owens gone, Witten is more like a receiver than ever, and he should keep his reception and yardage total high while he gets back to the six- or seven-touchdown range.
He’s too big, fast, and strong to be kept out of the end zone for long without pay dirt hog T.O. gone.
Prediction: 94 rec, 1,117 yards, 8 TD
9. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
As if you weren’t expecting Mr. “All-Day” to show up on this list sooner or later.
Sure, he fumbles, plays recklessly, and is in an increasingly more competitive division (on paper) by the day.
But when the guy can run over AND around just about anybody he wants to, it’s pretty hard to doubt his abilities.
His play could catch up with him eventually, but if Brett Favre signs, something tells me it won’t be happening in 2009.
With a true presence (albeit a 40-year-old one) behind center, Peterson will finally shine to his fullest.
Just an interesting note:
Jets RB Thomas Jones’ 2007 TD total (before Favre arrived: ONE
Jones’ total with Favre at QB in 2008: 13
A.P. scored 10 times last year while leading the league in rushing with over 1,700 yards.
Oh, the possibilities.
Prediction: 1,669 yards, 17 TD, 27 rec, 288 yards, 2 TD
10. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The entire 2008 season was about taking the place of a legend and making his own mark in Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers did both. The only problem was, his defense didn’t back him up at all.
With a new scheme and players in new spots in some areas, Rodgers will hopefully have a serviceable defense defending the other end zone.
In the meantime, Rodgers still has a hell of a right arm, is mobile, and has a slew of offensive weapons who are just as productive as he is.
With over 4,000 yards passing and 31 total touchdowns in his first year as a starter, it’s safe to say he’s arrived.
Now just cross your fingers he makes it through 16 games—again.
Prediction: 3,988 yards, 27 TD, 14 INT
11. Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
Smith is being held back by an ineffective quarterback and average receivers surrounding him, yet is still an elite fantasy option.
And a consistent and reliable one to boot.
Despite Jake Delhomme’s poor play at times, Smith is still arguably a top-five option and is entering his prime.
He still has game-breaking speed, excellent hands, and body control, and he makes plays on every ball thrown his way.
Don’t let Delhomme scare you away from four straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Prediction: 85 rec, 1,369 yards, 9 TD
12. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
White is officially “the” guy in Atlanta’s passing game, and even the arrival of Tony Gonzalez shouldn’t change that.
His chemistry with Matt Ryan is outstanding and should only improve, while two straight seasons of 1,200-plus yards and at least six scores should keep you salivating.
He’s also grabbed over 83 balls in each of the past two seasons.
He’s only 27 and is just going to get better.
Prediction: 90 rec, 1,444 yards, 10 TD
13. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Forget about his ridiculous 2008 postseason run.
Tons of players go “off” in the playoffs and then fizzle out the next season.
Fitz, however, has been doing this for years.
Draft him based on the three 1,400-yard and 10-plus touchdown seasons out of his last four tries.
The guy has size, speed, reliable hands, excellent body control, and a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Just knock on wood when thinking about him being on the Madden cover.
Prediction: 101 rec, 1,515 yards, 15 TD
14. Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals
What are you waiting for, Warner to grow a long, white beard, fall and break his hip, or retire unexpectedly?
Don’t wait on it.
Warner may be 38, but he isn’t playing with the body of the usual late-30s quarterback. He still has a good arm and is sickly accurate.
Oh, and he has two of the game’s best receiving options (Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin), as well as underrated third and fourth options.
Sure, he could always shatter like glass, but then again, so could anyone else in this league.
If you’re really that worried, grab Matt Leinart later in the draft as insurance.
Prediction: 4,377 yards, 29 TD, 15 INT
15. Steve Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams VS. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Both Steven Jackson and Frank Gore are elusive backs with exceptional speed, inside running ability, and vision.
The trouble is, they can’t stay completely healthy, and the rest of their offense stinks.
Neither has a reliable quarterback or passing game, and both of their defenses still could use some work.
However, the tide is turning.
Despite all of these things working against them, both backs have churned out back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns and have tons of room for fantasy optimism.
Jackson has a new coach with an emphasis on defense and running the ball.
Ding, ding, ding! We’ve got a winner.
You can say much the same for Gore as well.
His quarterback situation may not be resolved completely in 2009, but his carries should increase, as the Mike Martz system kept him well below 300 carries.
Both backs should see the ball at least 18 to 25 times a game and are still the featured offensive players on their teams.
So, barring a major injury, they should easily be top-10 fantasy backs and are viable RB1 candidates.
Jackson Prediction: 1,359 yards, 11 TD, 64 rec, 525 yards, 2 TD
Gore Prediction: 1,288 yards, nine TD, 49 rec, 358 yards, 2 TD
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Categories: Fantasy Football
Tags: aaron rodgers, adrian peterson, antonio gates, arizona cardinals, atlanta falcons, brett favre, Carolina Panthers, Clinton Portis, dallas cowboys, drew brees, Fantasy Draft, Fantasy Football, frank gore, green bay packers, indianapolis colts, Jason Witten, kurt warner, LaDanian Tomlinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota Vikings, new england patriots, New Orleans Saints, peyton manning, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, san diego chargers, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Steve Smith, Steven Jackson, tom brady, washington redskins, Wes Welker