About the only stable running back scene in the NFC East belongs to the Philadelphia Eagles. LeSean McCoy ran for 1080 yards and seven touchdowns. He added to his totals with a ridiculous 78 catches for 592 yards and two more scores. Sure, he’ll lose some touchdowns to Michael Vick, but he doesn’t have much competition from other running backs. McCoy is a solid RB1.
Felix Jones is the lead back in Dallas, but the Cowboys fully expect to share the workload. Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray will be in the mix, but they probably won’t do enough for fantasy teams barring injury. Jones is best suited as an RB3 at this point. Marion Barber III is unlikely to return gone.
Ahmad Bradshaw is in limbo until the lockout is settled. If he become a restricted free agent he will likely remain with the Giants. If he is unrestricted he’ll go to the highest bidder. I like his prospects better if he stays with the G-Men, but I wouldn’t shy away from him if he bolts. Bradshaw is a solid RB2 regardless. Brandon Jacobs is also in limbo. The Giants could ask him to take a paycut. Whether or not he’ll be willing to do so will determine his fantasy worth. Like Bradshaw I like Jacobs better if he returns to the Giants. He’s a solid RB3 that would get a boost in value if Bradshaw leaves.
Then there’s Washington. Ryan Torain had some moments last year, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. He’s a big risk that should probably be no better than a RB4. Torain will have to share the load with rookie Roy Helu, who has a good chance of becoming the most productive of his class this year. Clinton Portis is unlikely to return.

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The NFC East has three established quarterbacks and one messy situation.
Michael Vick is the number one fantasy quarterback in the division. He’s a bit of a risk in part because of injuries and in part because he’s never had a season like last year. He has the tools to succeed and the weapons around him to flourish, but we won’t know if he still has the drive to be a better quarterback. He’s easily a top tier QB1, but he has more risk than the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Manning. Kevin Kolb is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. He could find himself traded, possibly to Arizona. He makes a decent QB2 if he’s a starter.
Tony Romo put up big numbers when he is healthy. Dez Bryant is immature, but he gives Romo another quality weapon. He’s averaged 2699.5 yards and 1.9 touchdown passes per game over the past four years (51 games). His lack of playoff success keeps him from the Brady, Peyton, and Brees discussions, but he is possibly the best value among fantasy quarterbacks because of it.
Eli Manning reached 4000 yards for the second straight season. Not bad for a team that historically likes to run the football. His career high of 31 touchdowns gives him an average of 29 over the past two years and 25 over the past six. He really formed a nice rapport with Hakeem Nicks and remains a solid QB1 if you want to address other needs or a high-end QB2.

Then there is Washington. Donovan McNabb is as good as gone, which marks the second straight season he’s been sent packing. I don’t know if he’s a starting caliber quarterback anymore. Even if he finds a new gig, his fantasy days are most likely behind him. Rex Grossman could be brought back, but it appears John Beck could get a chance to show what he can do. This is a situation to avoid. Not only are the QB options mediocre at best, but they are running thin in the playmaker department.

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI


Hakeem Nicks had a solid rookie season for the Giants last year. He caught 47 passes for 790 yards (16.8 ypc) and 6 TDs. He had 411 yards after the catch, which is an impressive number given his relatively few receptions. He is big at 6’0″, 215 lbs with good speed, making him difficult to bring down. He should turn in another solid season, but are people drinking a little too much of the Giants’ Kool-Aid?


Nicks has an ADP of 53 (19th WR) according to Mock Draft Central. I have him as my 24th WR (click to see my WR rankings), but I wouldn’t be comfortable taking him quite so early. I prefer the likes of Dwyane Bowe, Percy Harvin, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Pierre Garcon, and others that have lower ADPs. If Nicks is on my team, it will be as a WR3. I don’t see that happening based on this scenario.


It’s not that I dislike him, but I am going to temper my expectations. I am predicting 65 catches for 950 yards and 6 TDs. Not bad numbers, but not numbers you expect out of the fifth pick of the fifth round in fantasy drafts either. Not unless they are coming from a tight end.

The problem is the Giants have a lot of options in the passing game. Steve Smith is the clear #1. Mario Manningham figures to see at least as many targets as Nicks. Kevin Boss and Ahmad Bradshaw, provided they can stay healthy, should also have decent roles in the passing attack.

I’m also expecting a more balanced attack this year. The Giants attempted 542 passes to just 443 running plays. I would expect fewer attempts from Manning and more carries from Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Andre Brown, if he can recover from his Achilles injury, could formulate the three-head monster the Giants used with great success in 2008.

If the Giants are running more and passing less, it stands to reason the G-men WRs will suffer, especially considering how many quality options they have. Throw in his injury history from last year, and I just can’t trust him quite at 53.

What are your thoughts on Hakeem Nicks?


The G-Men had question marks at WR and turned out three that had solid seasons. The running game took a step back. I see the running game bouncing back at the expense of the air attack.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
First they have to travel to Minnesota in Week 14. They return home to face the Eagles. Then they travel to Green Bay in the fantasy championship.

Five Star Fantasy Options

Four Star Fantasy Options
Eli Manning – Manning had an impressive season throwing for 4021 yards, 27 TDs, 14 INTs, a 62.3 completion percentage, and 93.1 passer rating. All of those numbers, except for the INTs, were career bests. He is a decent starting fantasy QB, but as I said, I expect the Giants to utilize the rushing attack more.

Steve Smith – Smith came out of nowhere to deliver for the G-Men in a big way. He had 107 catches for 1220 yards and 7 TDs. I expect a step back from Smith, but he still should be a solid WR2.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Brandon Jacobs – His 835 yards and 5 TDs were a far cry from the 1089 yards and 15 TDs he had in 2008. He suffered through injuries last year, which have been a problem most of his career. If he can stay healthy he can approach double-digit TDs. I wouldn’t bank on 1000 yards for him though.

Ahmad Bradshaw – Bradshaw almost certainly will have more total yards than Jacobs. Health could be a concern for Bradshaw as well, but he is very talented.

Hakeem Nicks – Nicks had fewer catches (47) and yards (790) than Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, but he offers the most upside. He has big play ability. Consistency could be an issue.

Giants Defense/Special Teams – They had a myriad of injuries in the secondary, but should be improved in that department. They are always a good bet to pile up the sacks.

Two Star Fantasy Options
Mario Manningham – Manningham was second in receptions and yardage last year, but is likely to be the third receiver this year. There will be times that you want to use him, but he’s more of a depth option at this point.

Kevin Boss – Boss had 567 yard and 5 TDs last year, which is solid, but I don’t seem much room for improvement. He’s a high-end TE2, but I wouldn’t want him as my starter.

One Star Fantasy Options
Andre Brown – What will Brown do for you? He’s coming off a serious Achilles injury so you will have to see his progress before you consider him. He’s probably at least a  year away (if he ever makes it at this level).

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

The NFL can be very polarizing. If you are a fan of the Houston Texas or a fan of USC football, maybe you don’t think the NFL or the Associated Press should strip Brian Cushing’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award for testing positive for PEDs. After all, Shawne Merriman was still named to the Pro Bowl following his positive test.


There is also talk that Lawrence Taylor should be kicked out of the NFL Hall of Fame if he is found guilty of the charges he’s facing involving solicitation of a minor. I can certainly understand that argument.


In both cases the player’s image and the league’s image took a hit. The last thing the NFL needs now is negative publicity, especially after Big Ben’s actions.  There is a difference though, and that’s the reason I have differing opinions on the way the honors of Cushing and LT should be treated.


Brian Cushing tested positive in September meaning the actions he took affected his play. Obviously it’s impossible to know which players were using PEDs, but given the facts we know about Cushing he wasn’t playing on a level playing field. Would he have played at such a high level without PEDs? Hard to say, but I know how baseball players are judged when they get caught for the same infraction. Just because we like to see bigger, stronger athletes in football, doesn’t mean they should get a free pass. If you want to maintain the integrity that the NFL is striving for, stripping the award would be a step in the right direction.


As for LT, what he is accused of is awful. Plain and simple. However, it did not have any bearing on what he did on the playing field. The Hall of Fame is a museum that celebrates the best players to ever pull on a helmet, leather or otherwise. Until you go through and remove players like O.J. Simpson, who have been charged with, and found guilty at least civilly, of at the least equally as heinous a crime, you shouldn’t pass that judgement on Taylor. I’m sure all the Hall of Fames have inductees with unsavory pasts. Taylor isn’t the first and won’t be the last.

“The Lineup: New York’s All-Time Best Baseball Players,” a new original series and interactive fantasy game that will determine the best baseball players in the history of New York, will air its second episode tomorrow night on MSG Network with “First Basemen,” the second of ten weekly episodes. Not surprisingly Yogi Berra was the all-time Catcher. Each 30-minute episode of “The Lineup” will present a number of nominees for consideration at each position, from the Yankees, Mets, New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers, with one episode dedicated to the best New York manager of all-time. MSG’s Fran Healy will host a panel, consisting of Hall of Fame Mets catcher Gary Carter, former Yankee bullpen ace Sparky Lyle, New York Magazine contributing editor and baseball aficionado Will Leitch, and executive vice president of the Elias Sports Bureau Steve Hirdt. The panel will whittle down a larger list of players from each position and determine the top five from each spot on the diamond. By the end of each episode, they will crown the top player at each position and name him to the official “Lineup” card.

With an interactive fantasy game launched in conjunction with the on-air program and hosted on http://msg.com/lineup/, viewers can see how they stack up against The Lineup’s experts. Fans will try to predict the five players who will be nominated each week and ultimately who will be selected as the starter in the final “Lineup.” Participants will receive points for each correct pick and will be eligible for weekly prizes such as signed memorabilia from baseball greats like Don Mattingly, Joe Torre, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. At the end of the series, the participant with the most points will win a Grand Prize. The site will also feature chats for fans to interact and debate each position, quizzes about the nominated players, photo and video galleries, and player statistics for fans to comb through before making their picks.

Eli Manning under Center
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

As I, and everyone other football fan, expected Eli participated in practice Friday, which virtually guarantees that he will be under Center when the New York Giants take on the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

He remains Questionable on the injury report, but that is a mere formality to document Eli’s missed practices during the week.  In my humble opinion, wild horses could not keep Eli from extending his streak of 75 consecutive regular season starts.

The Star Ledger notes that Eli took the majority snaps out of the shotgun, which would reduce the amount of moving around in the pocket for Eli.  It would also afford Eli some extra time in the pocket to reduce the hits from the aggressive Raiders defensive front.

I also assume that the Giants will use a heavy dose of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw for a number of reasons.  Naturally, the more the focus is on the running game, the less falls on the shoulders, or foot, of Eli.  Secondly, the Raiders struggle against the run allowing 146.3 yard per game on the ground, which is good for 26th in the league. Meanwhile they are 11th in the league with just 211 passing yards per game.

Like I suggested in my first analysis of this situation (click here to read), if you have a solid alternative for Eli on your fantasy team, you may want to go that direction.  Aside from a heavy reliance on the running game, Eli could have an early exit if the Giants get a big lead on the over-matched Raiders.

Eli Manning under Center
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Eli Manning will not take part in practice until the end of the week at the best as he will get treatment on his foot with hopes that he can play through the plantar fascia injury he is suffering through.

Eli’s chances of playing  will depend on his pain tolerance, which, if you as evidenced by the time when he played with a separated shoulder in 2007, is quite high.  Peyton Manning has never missed a start in his career and Eli has an 75 game consecutive start streak going, 82 if you count his seven playoff games.  Those Manning boys are tough.  It’s in their blood.  Archie Manning took a beating playing for some awful teams, but kept getting up.  My guess is if it were an injury where playing could worsen the condition he would be more likely to sit out.  However, since it’s just a pain tolerance thing, the Giants would have to lock him up to keep him off the field.

That doesn’t mean that you have to play him though.  If you have a solid alternative, you may want to go in that direction.  After all, Oakland is 11th against the pass, allowing just 211 yards per game, and that includes tilts with Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub, who happen to be two of the best Quarterbacks in the league.  On the flip side Oakland is 26th in the league in run defense, allowing 146.3 yards per game.  It would appear to me, that even if Eli plays, this is the week that you hand the keys over to Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation as game time approaches, but as of now I’d say plan on playing him if you must, but look for an alternative.  Leave a comment if you want a second opinion on which alternative to go with.

Eli missed Thursday’s practice as well.

Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Hakeem Nicks training camp
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

New York Giants first round pick Hakeem Nicks walked into the perfect situation for a young player.  He joined a solid, professional franchise who many thought could challenge for a Super Bowl, yet was void of elite talent at the wide receiver position. 

They have endless options of players who could contribute:

  • Dominick Hixon
  • Steve Smith
  • Mario Manningham
  • Sinorice Moss

Even David Tyree and fellow 2009 draft pick Ramses Barden are in the mix.  Yet, through three weeks of preseason action, it is only Nicks who has stepped up and made an impression.

Obviously, you have to take into account that the majority of his work has come against second and third string defenses, but still his numbers against the Jets had to open eyes.  He had 6 catches for 144 yards and 2 TD, making him the only Giant receiver to have over 100 yards for the entire preseason (and he is now at 208).  He is also the only Giants receiver to have 2 TD (the rest of the receivers have just 2 TD between them).

Normally, when a player has this type of performance, you consider that he’s going to grab the #3 or 4 receiver job, since he wasn’t doing it against the top competition.  Not this time.  With the other WR seemingly coming up empty, letting big plays slip through their fingers (literally), Nicks performance could have wide ranging effects.

I’d look for him to get some reps with Eli Manning and the first string offense in next week’s final preseason game.  While he may not be dubbed a starter to open the season, the idea of him reaching that level by Week 3 or 4 are heavily increasing.

The past few seasons the Giants have been a franchise who gets the most out of their draft picks, so to see Nicks make a major impact sooner rather than later should not come as a surprise.  When I did my Top 5 Rookie WR (click here for the post), Nicks was buried at the #5 spot on the list.  That has changed dramatically now.

Michael Crabtree is still holding out, which would cause him to plummet down the list.  He doesn’t know the offense yet, so how could we expect him to make an impact in the first few weeks if he ever does sign?

Brian Robiskie, who was thought to be in an enviable position, has reportedly slipped a bit.  He is still a sleeper and is worth stashing, but I would slip him beneath Nicks at this point.  Nicks has the potential to make a bigger, more immediate impact.

That makes Nicks, at worst, the #3 rookie WR on the list, with Jeremy Maclin & Percy Harvin competing with him.  I’d probably rank Nicks at #3 currently, but you could easily interchange those three as they all have the potential to make an impact.

If Nicks is available and you are in need of some depth at the WR position, I wouldn’t hesitate to snatch him up now and stash him away.  By the time you need him as a bye week replacement, he could have emerged as a solid option in all formats.  That certainly makes him worth the sleeper selection, doesn’t it?

What are your thoughts on Nicks?  How good could he be this season?

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Plaxico Pleads Guilty

20 August 2009

Former New York Giants MVP and Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty to felony weapons charges.  I am for tougher gun control to keep hands out of criminals, but I’m sorry, this wasn’t it.  There was no criminal intent involved.  It just seems like Plax was being used as an example by an overzealous District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. 

It was a reckless decision, as well as a stupid one, but not a criminal one.  Had he brandished the gun trying to intimidate someone or look cool, I would have a different take.  He shot himself and he gets a sentene 20 to 24 times longer than Donte Stallworth’s.  That is silly to me. 

What do you think?  Did the punishment fit the crime?

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