After watching the Giants roll out to a 29-3 halftime lead in their third preseason game, it would be easy to believe they are ready for the regular season opener. That would be a mistake as questions and roster decisions remain unanswered. Plus, they were playing the Jets who used a third-string (at best) quarterback with the first team offense.
Defensively, the Giants are in midseason form. The speed and tenacity they displayed might not have produced two pick-sixes and a safety against a better team, but it would have been pretty good. Jason Pierre Paul ravaged the Jets with a batted pass, a sack, and a safety in the first two possessions.
It seemed the entire Giants defensive line was in the Jets backfield most of the first half. The linebackers were all over the field making tackles and the defensive backs cut off every route, taking two Christian Hackenberg passes to the bank. All told, the half ended with the Giants defense tying the combined point total of the Jets and the Giants offenses.
Eli Manning looked comfortable, except for when the Jets’ Sheldon Richardson was in his face. After two consecutive pressures, the second of which affected Eli’s throw and resulted in an interception, the Giants finally made a change on their offensive line with backup center Brett Jones taking over at right guard. It wasn’t perfect, but the Giants’ offense scored their first touchdown of the preseason on the next drive.
Bryce Petty brought the Jets back, but they could not convert a two-point conversion run that would have given them the victory.
What did we learn?
The Giants’ offense does not look completely ready. Playing without starting wideouts Odell Beckham Jr and Brandon Marshall may have contributed to that, but Manning threw a ball under duress that became a classic-Eli interception at the Jets’ 3-yard line. He then failed to connect three times on fade patterns from the Jets’ 6 before settling for a field goal.
On their touchdown drive, the Giants needed a defensive penalty and a fourth-down conversion to set up Orleans Darkwa’s one-yard run.
The Giants first team moved the ball with several plays of greater than 10 yards. But for every good gain, there seemed to be another where the runner was met in the backfield for a loss. Starter Paul Perkins ended the night with a better YPC, but Orleans Darkwa still looks more like an NFL running back so far.
Rookie tight end Evan Engram lined up as a wide receiver a few times. Engram made a few catches but did not haul in either of two contested grabs, including a third-and-goal fade where he did not get great position.
The only starting receiver to play was Sterling Shepard who caught his two targets in an opportunity to remind everyone he will still be out there with Marshall, Beckham, and Engram.
It wasn’t all bad for the offensive line. There were as many pass plays where Eli had time as there were with pressure. That ratio needs to improve, but Eli made some good mid-range throws to his second- and third-string receivers, including a would-be touchdown pass that clanked off the hands of Roger Lewis. With his starters, Eli can do a lot of damage if he gets serviceable protection. He remains a sleeper candidate at his current QB17 position.
The Giants are not concerned about either Beckham Jr or Marshall’s injuries. Beckham still warrants his top-three WR status. Marshall is widely discussed as a bust candidate opposite Beckham in a shared load with Shepard and Engram.
If Manning connects early in the season with Marshall, I think that combo will develop like the Manning-Burress relationship of years past. I would not reach for him, but Marshall could surprise and take red zone targets from Beckham as the season progresses.
Shepard is another sleeper, especially if Manning reverts to last season’s short passing tendency. Don’t reach, but if he is still available at the end of your draft, he is worth a pick as a handcuff/sleeper.
At running back, Perkins is still being touted as a sleeper. I still don’t buy it. I believe Darkwa gets a bigger chunk of the running game as the season wears on, but the only Giants running back I would consider taking a late-round draft flyer on remains 3rd-down back Shane Vereen.
Those other fantasy guys
Engram’s role has yet to be defined. He won’t be lining up as a receiver once Beckham, Marshall, and Dwayne Harris return to the field. The Giants have discovered that blocking tight end Rhett Ellison can catch. Conversely, Engram has shown a willingness to engage in the blocking game which may even up the snaps a bit. Engram should be regarded as a potential midseason streamer for now.
The Giants brought in a division two kicker in Aldrick Rosas and practically awarded him the job. However, Mike Nugent is not going down quietly after hitting on field goals of 50 and 54 yards against the Jets. Both are kicking well. As we see more offensive drives stall, either one could be worth a roster spot based on field goal opportunities alone.
Someone will draft the Giants defense and have a solid weekly contributor. Second-year middle linebacker BJ Goodson has solidified the weakest link in last year’s surprising effort. The Giants may be worth more than their current DST8 status.
So… that’s that
The Giants’ offense showed signs of life against the Jets, but remember, it was the Jets. Not that the Jets’ defense is bad (it isn’t) but they are still the Jets. Beyond Beckham and the defense, every fantasy player has a high-ceiling, low floor potential, making the Giants an intriguing contributor to the fantasy ranks.
One injury on their offensive line could spell the end of any Manning and Perkins sleeper hopes, so it bears watching. If you don’t have the time to watch, come back to RealSport regularly and let us keep you advised.
What do you make of the Giants in terms of fantasy football? Comment below!
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