2009 has given owners of any one of the Giants’ receivers much to be happy about, but they have also followed a sort of schizophrenic approach leaving most managers with headaches trying to figure out which Giants’ receiver will have his day in the sun. Our update service is a great way to add to your arsenal of information.
Mario Manningham had his big day in Week 2 vs. Dallas, Steve Smith already has two huge games against the same Cowboys team as well as Kansas City, and now Hakeem Nicks has dialed in with his own stellar performance—not to be his last I’m sure— against the Saints a week ago.
On the surface, it appears that there is no way of telling what the Giants are going to do offensively in each given week, and who on the offensive side of the ball will be the biggest producer in regard to Fantasy points.
Or is there?
If we start to scratch away at the surface, we suddenly discover some similarities that could help understand what the Giants are doing, and conversely, we can afford ourselves a make shift prediction model that could help managers determine which Giants’ WR has the best chance of being top dog on the field.
Analyzing The Trends:
Let’s start with the Giants’ Offensive Philosophy which is simply this: A balanced attack that feeds on opportunities. If we elaborate on this a bit though, we can uncover some key aspects that are useful in Fantasy.
The Giants have run slightly more than they have passed (199 to 190). When they do favor running the ball, they average about 32 carries a game vs. an average of 27 pass attempts. But what is important here is that Steve Smith has almost exclusively been the number one guy in catches (16), and yards (213)*.
The notion here is that, if the Giants are expected to run the ball, you can bank on Steve Smith being the best WR choice for that particular game.
When the Giants favor the passing game they average 37 passing attempts, and in total when relying on airing it out, they have totaled 46 catches for 673 yards and 6 of their team total 10 TDs; clearly the WRs account for the majority of the scoring.
Here is a game by game breakdown, try to notice the trend.
Week One vs. the Redskins: 31-29 in favor of the run.
Mario Manningham 3/58/1
Hakeem Nicks 2/18
Steve Smith 6/80
Total Catches for the Big Three: 11
Week Two vs. the Cowboys: 38-26 in favor of pass.
Steve Smith 10/134/1
Total Catches for Manningham and Smith:20
Week Three vs. the Buccaneers: 49-27 in favor of the run.
Mario Manningham 4/55
Steve Smith 7/63/1
Total Catches for Mannigham and Smith: 11
Week Four vs. the Chiefs: 36-33 in favor of the pass.
Mario Manningham 1/43
Hakeem Nicks 1/54/1
Steve Smith 11/134/2
Total Catches for the Big Three: 13
Week Five vs. the Raiders: 41-24 in favor of the run:
Mario Manningham 2/36/1
Hakeem Nicks 4/49/1
Steve Smith 3/70
Total Catches for the Big Three: 9
Week Six vs. the Saints: 36-19 in favor of the pass.
Mario Manningham 4/50
Hakeem Nicks 5/114/1
Steve Smith 4/44
Total Catches for the Big Three: 13
The Giants have displayed a very predictable approach this season of run one week then pass the next, and so on and so on. As you can see, when the G-men run the ball, Smith is hot hand notwithstanding the last game Nicks had, but Smith still had 70 yards on only three catches while facing double team coverage all day.
Additionally, the order of big game receivers is as follows in the passing favored games: Manningham, Smith, and Nicks which theoretically makes Manningham the favorite to have a big day this week vs. Arizona.
Theoretically that is.
So the big question is whether or not this simple easy to follow trend will continue.
Analyzing the Next Three Weeks:
The Giants are at home against another potentially high powered offense in Arizona, and there are plenty of highlights to take notice to, particularly the records for both teams.
The G-Men are undefeated at home while the Cardinals are also undefeated on the road making for an intriguing matchup, and if the Giants learned anything from last week’s meltdown it should be that without pressure on the QB, the better arms in the league are going to chew them up and spit 'em out.
The Cardinals rank 11th overall at getting to the QB; the Giants rank third in fewest sacks allowed. The Cardinals rank 31st against the pass, allowing an average of 265 yards a game, and rank 1st against the run averaging a paltry 59 yards a game.
So if we follow the trend, this game is supposed to be the one where the Giants run the ball, and Steve Smith has his day in the sun against a suspect secondary that is hot one week and cold the next, right?
Well, not so fast.
I think the trend will change to pass/pass—run/run in the coming weeks and here’s a look why:
Ranked 31st vs. Pass— 265/G
Ranked 1st vs. Run—59/G
Ranked 5th vs. Pass—179/G
Ranked 15th vs. Run—104/G
San Diego Chargers
Ranked 13th vs. Pass—217/G
Ranked 27th vs. Run—141/G
The outlook favors the passing game today vs. the Cardinals after the Giants accumulated 208 yards by the Big Three vs. the Saints.
Next week’s divisional showdown with the Eagles could feature the Giants’ desire to play keep away and utilize ball control since the Eagles are giving up over a hundred yards a game—not to mention Jacobs always seems to do well vs. the Birds.
The week after that, the Giants could try and use the same approach when they face the Chargers since Rivers and company can pretty much pass on anyone successfully.
The Giants don’t want to get into a shooting match with the Chargers considering L.T. and Sproles are also in the backfield—a basic offensive mirror image of the Giants really—so keeping the ball on the ground vs. the horrid run D is probably the best assumption for now.
So if the Giants break their current cycle and go toe to toe with Warner and the high flying Cardinals this week—which is the likelihood—who winds up on top?
To determine the possibilities, we look at some good old fashion football.
Giants vs. Cardinals:
The Giants receivers average out at 5’11” / 190 pounds while the Cardinals corners average out at 6’1”/190 so there is no real advantage in size here. Mario Manningham will probably have to deal with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a young talented corner who already has two picks under his belt this year, while Steve Smith could wind up having to deal with Bryant McFadden who tips more balls than receivers catch on him.
So why are the Cardinals ranked 31st against the pass?
They can’t stop the YAC, and their safeties have about as much talent as a Cleveland Browns receiver—ouch!
This could have a two-pronged attack for the Giants. The Cardinals like bringing the extra pass rusher, usually Okeafor, which leaves a lot of ground for 3 linebackers to cover. One of the weaknesses of the 3-4 scheme is that if the defense becomes stretched sideline to sideline, there is a lot of room over the middle of the field, if the linebackers stay home or play the zones close, there is bound to be a huge whole to exploit deep.
The Cardinals will have to account for both Bradshaw and Jacobs coming out of the flats, and off the screens while also dealing with the Giants Big Three.
Mannigham can create huge matchup problems especially if the Giants deploy their TE along with everyone else, and this could be utilized within the zones. Smith on the other hand is much faster than Bryant McFadden and if Nicks and Manningham get going Smith is due for another big game.
Hakeem Nicks is the wild card. If the Cardinals decide to try and show up again and seal off Mannigham and Smith, Nicks becomes possession option number three. The Cardinals can’t possibly cover all three at the same time with good results.
Conclusion and Predictions:
We looked at the basic trend of the Giants offense and learned the rotation between run and pass. We learned that when they run, Steve Smith is your man, and when they pass, Nicks is currently the hot hand.
We also learned that this trend may not continue; instead, change pace to better accommodate the competition, but the player projection still remains: When the Giants run the ball start Smith, and when they pass, start the hottest hand.
If you Think About It there is no reason to drop any of these 3 receivers since they are in an opportunistic offense that bases their approach and productivity on basically what the defense gives them, and a bit of good old fashion trends.
If, by some chance, someone tries to offer you a trade for one of your Giants receivers, make sure you do your comparisons thoroughly, and should you decide to make that trade you better be sure who you get in return is just as comparable if not better in skill, opportunities, health, and schedule.
After Week Ten's game vs. San Diego we'll come back and see whether or not this theory held water; so let's test drive this baby!
Yearly Totals and Averages:
Steve Smith: 41 catches for 525 yards and 4 TDs
Avg: 6.8 catches/G — 88 yards/G— .6 TD/G
Mario Manningham: 24 catches for 392 yards and 3 TDs
Avg: 4 catches/G— 65 yards/G—.5 TD/G
Hakeem Nicks: 12 catches for 235 yards and 3 TDs
Avg: 3 catches/G—59 yards/G—.5TD/G