Dynasty Update: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
Eli Manning, in comparison to recent years, is currently an afterthought in fantasy drafts. I’m a bit guilty myself having only nabbed Eli two times so far in mocks and both times as my 2nd option. Don’t get me wrong. In 2012, Manning had the kind of season that scares fantasy GMs away. That fact makes me wonder if some folks are missing the boat for 2013. Let’s examine some of the things that, we think, might make Manning a stunning value in 2013.
- Proven potential. Eli tossed for over 4,900 yards in 2011.
- Weaponry. The Giants receiving group is both high-end and deep. They also have David Wilson, who adds something new out of the backfield.
- The ground game brings balance even without Ahmad Bradshaw. Both Andre Brown and David Wilson are ready now. They won’t miss Bradshaw the way they have in the past.
- The Line. The Giants offensive line may not leap off the page, but they have quality, experience and depth. They’ve been together with Manning for years and we like rookie LG Justin Pugh a lot, so they have some youth too.
The one gripe we have with the Giants’ offensive machine was letting TE Martellus Bennett go. Bennett, we feel, was greatly under-appreciated in 2012. The good news is that they replaced him with a solid guy when they stole TE Brandon Myers from the Raiders.
The last point I will make on the Giants is about their youth. The Giants paid a price last year for developing rookies. Both David Wilson and Rueben Randle had growing pains in 2012, but, and this is key--they both got better on a game-to-game basis. With a full offseason under their belts, we expect a legit level-jump out of both players. And, understand, if you don’t already, that these are very talented guys. Manning has a bunch of high-end play-makers at his disposal. More than most QBs are afforded.
Some may question the health of Hakeem Nicks, the most established play-maker on the New York roster, but things seem to be on schedule with his recovery from what ended up being minor knee surgery. And, as I’ve said, they are much more prepared to play without Nicks then they were in 2012 as Randle is way ahead of where he was last season. Rather than let Nicks play at a clearly diminished level, which they did in 2012, they can simply rest Nicks and insert Randle.
The question is, can Eli be the effective distribution hub that this offense needs? There is no question that he’s been that guy in the past. I’ll put my money on a return to form in 2013. In fact, a career year is quite possible if things break right.
For all the factors listed above, Eli is primed for a very big bounce-back season and he is currently being drafted as a backup in 12-team leagues with an ADP of 104. Should you be targeting Eli? That’s up to you, but he certainly takes a lot of the risk out of waiting to draft your QB, doesn’t he? Also factor in that there is depth at the position even after the younger Manning is off the board, so backing him up with a few more quality options is easy to do. Carson Palmer and Jay Cutler can both be had on the cheap. In Dynasty leagues, Eli can be a cheap way to fix a weak QB position in a year where you probably can't find an short-term option from the rookie class.