For many years, the New York Giants had one of the most feared front fours in football, a defensive line that helped propel the team to a huge upset win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That line has fallen off a bit in the last couple seasons, but a rebound could be in store in 2015.
The Giants’ front four is anchored by Jason Pierre-Paul, who was the runner-up to J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans in Draft Buddy’s default fantasy points scoring in 2014. Like Watt, Pierre-Paul has the ability to mix double-digit sacks with 70+ tackles, affording IDP owners both upside and consistency. It may be Watt’s world where IDP defensive linemen are concerned, but a strong argument can be made that Pierre-Paul is the No. 2 fantasy option at his position.
Opposite Pierre-Paul, the picture is much less clear. Veterans George Selvie and Robert Ayers, youngster Damontre Moore and rookie Owamagbe Odighizuwa will battle for snaps in camp. If one of those players emerges as the clear “winner” of that battle there could be some IDP value to be had, but an upside-draining rotation is a very real possibility.
If you happen to play in an IDP league that separates defensive ends and defensive tackles and miss out on the likes of Ndamukong Suh of the Miami Dolphins and Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, don’t sleep on Johnathan Hankins. The third-year pro quietly finished fifth among defensive tackles last year, and his relative anonymity means Hankins can often be had at a discount.
There’s a new defensive scheme coming to New York in 2015 with the return of coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and middle linebacker Jon Beason told SiriusXM Radio that he can’t wait to get after it. “It’s a great system,” Beason said. “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to be ready for whatever an offense does.” Beason isn’t carrying a high price tag in 2015 after an injury-marred 2014 season, but those durability concerns add more than a bit of risk to trusting the 30-year-old.
Outside Beason, there are more questions than answers where Big Blue’s ‘Backers are concerned. Free-agent acquisition J.T. Thomas was a pleasant IDP surprise filling in for Paul Posluszny in Jacksonville last year, but until we see how the subpackage snaps shake out Thomas is a speculative addition at best.
After losing both Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown in free agency, safety was an area of need for the Giants, a need the team addressed by moving up in the second round to select Alabama’s Landon Collins. The pick met with the approval of Mike Mayock of the NFL Network. “Collins runs a sub-4.5 40,” Mayock said. “He plays every game with his best effort. He is the best in-the-box safety in this draft. If you’re a defensive back for (Alabama coach) Nick Saban, you’re well coached. Collins finishes in the run game and he finishes in the pass game.” A likely every-down player out of the gate, Collins is worthy of consideration as a DB2.
Over the first seven weeks of last season, only Antoine Cason scored more fantasy points than Prince Amukamara. Of course, as has been the case for much of the former first-round pick’s career, Amukamara then got hurt. Heading into a contract year, the 26-year-old has plenty of motivation to produce for the Giants – and IDP owners – in 2015.