Mario Manningham enters New York Giants training camp battling with Hakeem Nicks for the starting split-end receiver position opposite Steve Smith. Experts have predominantly already written Nicks into the spot, and rightly so, he's the better all around playmaker and blocker than Manningham.
But are they jumping the gun? Nicks has all the talent you could hope for, but he still didn't overtake Manningham last season for the #2 spot. Are we overvaluing Nicks and undervaluing Manningham? Perhaps.
Let's take a look at some of the reasons Nicks is getting all the love, and why Manningham enters the 2010 season as a serious fantasy football sleeper candidate.
ADP: 184th – 56th WR selected
By the numbers:
- Nicks and Manningham ended the season ranked 26th and 28th respectively. Their numbers were so similar as make them fantasy twins in 2009. So why is Nicks ADP 18th, some 35 WRs sooner than Mario?
- Manningham has some knocks. He's prone to dropping passes. In fact, he tied for the league lead in drops.
- He lacks the physicality that Nicks has. He's also two inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter.
- In truth Manningham's biggest flaw is that Nicks is in his way. Nicks is simply the all around better player, who started 2009 slowed by an ankle sprain. He's primed for a breakout 2010 season, which is why he's a top 20 fantasy pick.
- Mario's upside entering 2010 is huge. He should do no worse than 2009, and he could easily surpass them. I have him ranked at 31.
Summary: This camp battle will be one to watch for fantasy owners, but more important is what the outcome ultimately means for Manningham. If Nicks wins the WR2 job outright as expected, Manningham still projects to be the WR3 on a team with a QB who passed over 500 times for more than 4000 yards last season. Worst case, you should expect numbers similar to last season's, with about 700-800 yards and 5-6 TDs. At an ADP of 56 that's outright robbery. Nicks may win the starting gig, but Manningham should win the fantasy value award for exceeding production vs. his draft spot.
ADP taken from our friends at MyFantasyLeague.com