by Brendan Cassidy for BigBlueInteractive.com
The 2014 season was a trying one for the New York Giants. After one of the busiest offseasons in franchise history, with high turnover at key positions, many were expecting big things from the Boys in Blue. However, that was not to be, in large thanks to a restructured offensive line and a subpar defense that struggled to get a stop whenever it needed one. The Giants finished a disappointing 6-10.
Despite all the letdowns from the 2014 season, there were some bright spots in this season of disappointment, the brightest being the emergence of rookie sensation Odell Beckham Jr. In just 12 games during his rookie season, Beckham did the unthinkable: racking up 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs, which were good for top 5 Fantasy Football WR numbers on the season. Another positive for this Giants squad was the progress Eli made in the West Coast System, under first year Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo. Coming off a horrendous 2013 season (3,818 yards, 18 TDS, 27 INT), Eli was able to bounce back and have arguably the most productive year of his career throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns to go with only 14 interceptions. The progress he made throughout the year is definitely encouraging. I am hopeful he will continue to improve especially if the offensive line problems are addressed this upcoming offseason. Possibly the biggest spark would be Victor Cruz returning to his old form. While this is a big “if”, Giants fans have to be drooling at the potential this offense could have in 2015.
While the 2015 season is still more than seven months away, and the Giants personnel is sure to change through the draft and free agency, here are my very early fantasy football projections for the Giants key offensive players at quarterback and wide receiver:
Quarterback for the Giants is a one-man show, as it has been for more than a decade. With Eli Manning entering his 12th season and second in McAdoo’s West Coast Offense, it is fair to think he will make even more progress in 2015. Coming off a horrid 2013 season where many were even questioning Eli’s future with the Giants, Eli was able to prove all the doubters wrong. McAdoo’s quick-paced gun-slinging offense did wonders for Eli in his first year. Probably the most telling statistic was the fact that his interception per throw rate went from a career high 4.9% in 2013 to a very respectful 2.3% in 2014. He finished as the 10th overall fantasy QB in 4 point passing TD leagues ahead of players such as Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, and Matthew Stafford while finishing only 3 points behind Tom Brady.
With the wonder Odell Beckham coming back for his second year, the return of Cruz (to what extent is to be seen), Rueben Randle (who really came on in the last few games last season), and an offensive threat at tight end like Larry Donnell, Eli should have plenty of weapons to come back with. That being said, here are my projections for Eli for the 2015 season:
Eli Manning Projections:
- Yards: 4,550, Completion Percentage: 63%, Touchdowns: 32, Interceptions 13
- Fantasy Football QB Rank: 8th Overall
Analysis: While I think it’s fair to say Eli will never be an Elite Fantasy Football Quarterback on the level of Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, or Andrew Luck, I think he has the potential to be a serviceable mid- to low-end QB1 this season. Assuming Cruz comes back somewhere close to what he was before his injury, he has arguably the best weapons of his career. Look for Eli to have one of, if not the best year of his career next year.
Wide receiver is one of, if not the strongest position on the Giants roster. Beckham, as you all know, had one of the best rookie seasons of all time for a WR, and with Cruz coming back and Randle looking like a solid number 3, the wide receiver corps has the potential to be special. Beckham looks to be an elite Fantasy WR next year with the potential to be the top overall WR. If you average out his stats over 16 games this past season, it comes out to 121 catches, 1,740 yards, and 16 touchdowns. That is 24.67 points per game in a PPR league and 17 points per game in non-PPR, edging out Antonio Brown for tops in the entire NFL, who had 24.31 in PPR and 16.12 in Non-PPR respectively. The sky is the limit for Beckham. Let’s just hope he can stay healthy and continue to produce at this level.
As for Victor Cruz, he is probably the toughest player to evaluate for next season. So much hinges on his health and if he can return to his former self, and how the emergence of Odell Beckham as the clear-cut number 1 will affect his performance. He has played with Hakeem Nicks while he was in his prime, so I don’t think the latter will be an issue. More than anything, what concerns me the most is the grueling rehabilitation he is currently going through. Returning to the player he was will be a tough task. Before his injury, he was a borderline top 10 Fantasy WR, but now it is hard to gauge. If he returns as a fantasy WR3, (somewhere in the range of 1,000 yards 6-8 TDS), I think Giants fans have to be thrilled. Assuming Beckham has the year we all expect from him next year, this would be great production from the Giants top 2 WRs next season. But we won’t really know until he steps onto the field come August.
Rueben Randle seems to be seen as a scapegoat and disappointment by many on BBI, which in some aspects is fair. As a second round pick and looked at as polished player coming out of college and a “safe” pick, many here had high hopes for him. He has had trouble running correct routes in the past (which led to a good amount of Eli’s interceptions in 2013) and had many poorly-timed drops when it mattered most. However, at the end of 2014, when many had given up on him, he showed glimpses of the player he could become. He finished the season with a very respectable 71 catches for 938 yards and 3 TDs. Granted, part of this was aided by 132 yard and 158 yard performances the last 2 weeks of the season. While I don’t necessarily think his catches and yards will go up in 2015, due to the return of Cruz, I do expect him to be much more polished with better route running and fewer mistakes. Look for him to still be in the WR3/Flex conversation from a fantasy perspective.
Odell Beckham Projections:
- 118 Catches, 1660 yards, 15 Touchdowns, 120 Rushing Yards
- Fantasy Football WR Rank: 2nd Overall
Analysis: All signs point towards a monster season for Beckham. With these projections, he would finish with 386 points in a PPR League. This would leave him second only to Antonio Brown’s 388 based on this year’s results. While this is slightly less production per game than this past year, I believe with the return of Cruz this would be a phenomenal output from Beckham. The other factor being defenses will have a full year to study tape, and focus their game plans on containing him. He is a bona-fide first round draft pick this upcoming year especially in PPR leagues. If you miss on one of the elite RBs, you should seriously consider nabbing him in the mid-to late-first round.
Victor Cruz Projections:
- 64 Catches, 870 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
- Fantasy Football WR Rank: 28th Overall
Analysis: Coming off Cruz’s injury, I think expectations have to be tempered. With Cruz looking to be a number 2 at best in this upcoming season, these numbers would be very respectable and great production for a second WR. Cruz will be in the Fantasy WR3 conversation, with a bit of upside. Definitely a value pick in later rounds of drafts if he returns anywhere near to the player he was pre-injury. Cruz is worth consideration after the 7th round in a 10-team draft.
Rueben Randle Projections:
- 53 Catches, 720 Yards, 4 Touchdowns
- Fantasy Football WR Rank: 52nd Overall
Analysis: Like I mentioned earlier, I think Randle will have his best season as a pro in 2015. While this doesn’t necessarily mean more fantasy production with the return of Cruz as the clear number 2, I think he will prove to be a reliable number 3 and he will continue to improve as an overall player in a crucial make or break contract year. He is probably worth a late-round flyer in deeper leagues (while knowing there is limited upside), unless Cruz gets re-injured or is completely ineffective coming back from his injury.
If a few things go the Giants way next season, look for them to have a ton of Fantasy value from the quarterback and wide receiver position. Next week I will take a look at the Giants’ running back and tight end fantasy value going into the 2015 season.
Brendan Cassidy has over 15 year of experience in fantasy football in both league and daily fantasy formats and is an avid New York Giants fan.