The Giants finally decided to move on without Plaxico Burress. With the troubled wide receiver’s legal issues not going to be sufficiently resolved prior to the draft, the team decided they could no longer wait to decide his fate.
Burress has been a major piece of the Giants offense since signing with the team as a free agent prior to the 2005 season after five years with the Steelers. His monster season in 2007 helped propel the team to a Super Bowl championship.
The obvious assumption from this move is that the Giants will make a run at one of Braylon Edwards, Anquan Boldin or Chad Johnson. However, such a move would not be consistent with the overall philosophy of general manager Jerry Reese, who has used free agency to bring in marginally priced veterans to plug holes. A more likely option would be the team bringing back Amani Toomer or signing former Ram Torry Holt and also addressing the position in the draft.
Look for the Giants to take a receiver in the 1st or 2nd round of this year’s draft. They currently have one pick in the 1st round in addition to two picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. If a receiver starts falling, they have the ammunition to move up to get them.
Fantasy Football Impact
Quarterback Eli Manning obviously suffers with the loss of his number one receiver but the numbers suggest Burress’ absence could be overstated. The assumption that Manning’s production suffered with Burress out of the line-up was more fantasy myth than fact. He averaged roughly 14 points per game with Burress in the line-up or on the sideline. However, Manning did benefit from having four games against the NFC West in 2008 when he averaged over 20 points per game against teams from that division. Perhaps that is indicative of his ranking as a fantasy quarterback. With or without Burress, Manning is a solid backup on your fantasy roster.
Wide receivers Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss figure to benefit from Burress’ departure as well as tight end Kevin Boss. Boss figures to benefit the most as he now becomes the team’s top receiving target in the red zone. Smith seems best suited as a number two or three receiver while Manningham is likely the only receiver currently on the roster with the potential to develop into a top wideout. Hixon has flashed some big play ability but does not seem capable of filling in as a number one receiver.
Barring a trade for Edwards, Boldin or Johnson, look for the team to rely on its running game more in 2009. However, the team struggled to score with Burress out of the lineup so the touchdown count for Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware might suffer with this move. Jacobs remains a solid number two fantasy option but a breakout season now seems less likely.