2014 Outlook: One positive takeaway from Cruz's disappointing 2013 campaign: His fantasy floor is actually quite high. A depleted Giants WR corps, a late-season injury and all those Eli Manning interceptions meant that Mr. Salsa didn't get to do a single TD dance after Week 4. Not surprisingly, he posted only one double-digit fantasy game over that same span. And yet Cruz ranked among the top 25 WRs in yards (998), targets (121) and receptions (73) -- and was only three points from breaking into the top 25 in fantasy points (115, 28th). The Giants' new West Coast scheme is a perfect fit for Cruz's skill set. He'll be dancing again in no time.
2014 Outlook: At 6-foot-1 and 231 pounds, Jennings should fit into the Andre Brown role in the Giants' offense. He broke out with Oakland in the second half of 2013, flashing a bit of speed to go with hulking short-yardage talent. But the key variable in New York's backfield is David Wilson, a player with all-world quickness and sprinting ability. If Wilson can excel in his return from neck surgery, Jennings becomes an ancillary piece, more of a goal-line specialist. If not, Jennings is a candidate for 250 carries, though rookie Andre Williams will be in the mix as well. We're not sure Jennings is talented enough to be a long-term backfield solution, but he could find his way toward fantasy usefulness in 2014.
2014 Outlook: Year two for Wilson wasn't much better than his less-than-stellar rookie campaign. He fumbled twice in Week 1, was barely involved in the pass game, broke zero runs longer than 18 yards and suffered a neck injury so severe that it required spinal fusion surgery. So we've been burned by Wilson in back-to-back years, believing his incredible college tape destined him for big-play NFL stardom. No more. The Giants think Wilson can be healthy enough to contribute in 2014, but it still feels risky. While Wilson's raw ability is light-years ahead of that of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis, he's only a flier fantasy pick.
2014 Outlook: Over a six-game midseason stretch, Randle tallied nearly 300 yards and 6 TDs. This unexpected outburst -- which accounted for nearly half of his 2013 yards and all of his scores -- hinted at Randle's fantasy upside. But the remaining six games hinted at his inconsistency. As year three begins, Randle will get first dibs on taking over the Hakeem Nicks role in the Giants' offense, but he must learn an entirely different playbook first and beat No. 1 draft selection Odell Beckham for the starting role opposite Victor Cruz. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is installing a West Coast system, so Randle owners should expect more ups and downs in 2014.
2014 Outlook: The number 27 still stings Manning owners, but how many of those interceptions were Eli's fault? By the BDR metric, only three -- yes, three -- were actually due to a bad Manning decision. The rest were largely attributed to receiver mistakes, bad luck or tipped passes. Manning does throw a ton of vertical passes (197, tied for fourth), and he still has a highly talented group of pass catchers to work with in new O-coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast scheme. If the Giants' offensive line holds up and Manning's interception luck improves, Eli could once again be a viable high-end QB2.
2014 Outlook: While Williams' bowling-ball physique (5-11, 230) promises a punishing running style, he has precious little wiggle and doesn't catch passes. His NFL comparables are BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Shonn Greene. Players who fit this profile occasionally find themselves in valuable fantasy roles, but that's usually when they become TD makers for prolific offenses. If David Wilson's neck problems prohibit him from playing in 2014, Williams -- along with Peyton Hillis -- would be in the mix behind Rashad Jennings. But since Jennings is a 231-pound dude himself, it's unlikely that Williams would steal many TDs.
2014 Outlook: Beckham is a throwback triple threat, as Giants GM Jerry Reese noted that the LSU first-rounder can score touchdowns on receptions, kick returns and punt returns. A home run hitter of this caliber doesn't come around often and could go a long way toward improving New York's mediocre vertical passing game (9.6 ypa, ranked 26th). The biggest impediment could be having to make the transition to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast scheme, which is a change in style from the vertical passing system Beckham played in at LSU.
2014 Outlook: The Giants finished fifth in net yards per pass attempt (5.95) and sixth in yards per rush allowed (3.8) last year. But this unit was dreadful during an 0'6 start and showed signs of life only when it got to face Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor and Scott Tolzien in successive games. GM Jerry Reese obviously wasn't fooled. He dropped big bucks on free agent CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond and re-signed S Stevie Brown. This has the makings of a very good secondary, and it had better be. The linebackers are a question mark for the third consecutive year, and Jason Pierre-Paul has had only 8' sacks since his breakout season in 2011.
2014 Outlook: Freeman's Vikings debut last season was an unmitigated disaster. He completed 38 percent of his passes for 190 yards against a less-than-stellar Giants defense. Making matters worse? It was on Monday Night Football for the whole world to see. That's probably why Freeman had few suitors when he hit the open market this winter. He signed a one-year, $795,000 deal in New York, where Eli Manning hasn't missed a game since 2004. Odds are that Freeman will be a glorified clipboard carrier with zero fantasy value.