NY Giants franchise QB Eli Manning is on my fantasy football roster. As of right now, he is on the bench in favor of Houston’s Matt Schaub.
Here is how ESPN characterizes Eli heading into the 2011 season:
Manning completed 15-of-30 passes for 200 yards with two picks in Monday’s preseason game against the Jets. We won’t overreact to a pair of turnovers in a preseason game, but it’s a reminder that Manning’s 4,002 passing yards and 31 TD passes last season were accompanied by a league-high 25 picks.
Now I had Eli last year on my roster as a starter, and at times he looked like the biggest sleeper in the game as far as qbs go. But the INTS killed. As a result, the Giants are going to really force Manning into better situations this year with some scheme changes.
Here are some thoughts on how they’ll do that:
1. The check down. I expect the Giants RBs to have a seriously stellar year in 2011. More designed screens, more checkdowns, more passes caught out of the backfield by necessity. Eli WILL look to the RBs more this year, force things a lot less. He must…
2. Different threats will emerge. Smith and Boss are out. Beckum and Hixon are in. The thing I point to with Hixon is that he’s a good slot receiver that can double as a deep threat. Slant, slant, slant, and then go…. That’s the way I see Eli utilizing Hixon as a weapon. First possession, then Hixon turns it up and get behind the defense when they least expect it. Smith NEVER could develop this facet and thus was too one dimensional. The Giants will look to Hixon and backup slot WR Victor Cruz to open up the offense to their advantage deep down field, but at the right times.
Beckum MUST become a Dallas Clark type of TE. The way that happens is with play action and Beckum chipping and getting out into space quickly with Eli taking his shots to the outside away from the heart of the defense. Beckum is small but quick, over the middle crossing routes will be reserved for Pascoe and Ballard, extending plays, where they can use their height to their advantage. I see a lot of both passing options from Giants TEs this year, but Eli really is comfortable along the seams of defenses toward the outside — and last year we saw glimpses of how this could be exploited with a bit of deception and commitment to getting Beckum the ball. I look forward to seeing it more in 2011.
3. Something to prove. Eli for better or worse called himself an elite QB — now it’s time to show the pundits he’s better than the criticism suggests. I see another 4,000 yard 30 TD year for Eli with far less INTs en route to another playoff appearance for the Giants.
As far as fantasy moves go:
Eli will hang on the bench for me week 1 until he returns home for the Metlife Stadium week 2 Monday Night game against the Rams. He always seems to show up big for these prime time games, and I predict that to be his first really decisive performance of the year. Not to mention, the Giants really love to run the ball against the Redskins and that will take points away from Eli week 1.
Best bet for playing Eli will be after managing the first game in Washington conservatively on the ground.