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Eli Manning was terrible last year. He'll be in a new offensive scheme in 2014. Will it help him to return to fantasy football relevance or are those days in the rear-view mirror?
11th Year – 6’4”, 220 lbs
2013 Stats – Passing: 16 games, 317-for-551 (57.5%), 3,818 yards, 18 TDs, 27 INTs
Pluses – He's durable.
I think it's appropriate to start with something so lame when it comes to Eli Manning. More white than Wonderbread, Eli is about as boring as it comes, both on and off the field (he might seem boring but take a look at his wife. Dude knows what he's doing if you ask me). Eli has appeared in 16 games each of the past nine years (he played nine games as a rookie). Eli had surgery on his ankle in April, and he's progressed to the point where no one is concerned at all about his wheel. He'll be at 100 percent once the games count, no one doubts that. Durable is good.
Each of the last five years he's thrown for 3,800 yards.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning haven't done that.
The last nine seasons he's averaged 25 scores a season.
That's the same total that Tom Brady threw last season and one more than Cam Newton and two more than Andrew Luck.
Usually productive, but never dynamic.
Changes have begun in New York. Last season Manning manning threw the third most passes in the league, as a percentage of total passes, over 30 yards. Moreover, Eli had the longest average distance per pass last season according to ESPN. Given his receiving corps, and some poor work by the offensive line, it was a recipe for disaster. The Giant scrapped that down field scheme, brought in a new OC in Ben McAdoo, and have become obsessed with a quick hitting, timing based offense that the club hopes can do for Eli what a similar scheme did last year for Philip Rivers in San Diego.
"We're pushing for 70 or more plays per game," Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan said. That's a lofty goal given that the Giants ran an average of 61.75 plays per game last season, the 5th lowest mark in football. Only two teams last season ran 70 plays a week – the Broncos (72.25) and Eagles (71.12) – so it's a substantial number. Moreover, last season the Packers, the club McAdoo was with, averaged 67.12 snaps a week. More snaps equal more opportunities to move the football. It will also lesson the need for the deep ball and simplify things for the receivers. "On a couple of routes, you've got a couple of reads, but that's pretty much it -- about one or two reads," Jernigan said. "Not like the old offense, where we had three or four reads, reading the safeties and the corners and stuff. So it makes you play faster. Make one decision and go.” This scheme change should at least cut down on the interceptions and boost Eli's yardage total, even if it doesn't turn him into a 30 touchdown passing machine.
The Giants have done some things out wide. Gone is the constant headache that is Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz is healthy. Rueben Randle is ready to take his game to the starting lineup and the belief is that he could prosper. The club spent a first round selection on Odell Beckham Jr. He's been dealing with a hamstring injury, and rookie wideouts often struggle to find consistent success in year one, but he's a certainly skillful enough that should lend a welcome burst of talent to the wideout group. There's also the previously mentioned Jerrel Jernigan around to lend a hand out of the slot. There's a black hole at tight end, but Eli is used to throwing the ball to his wideouts (nearly 47 percent of his passes last season went to the outside wideouts).
Minuses – Last season was the first time Manning failed to throw 26 scores in a season since 2008 and it was the first time that he failed to toss at least 21 scores in a season in which he played 16 games as he slumped to just 18 scores. At the same time that happened, his interceptions skyrocketed. Eli threw 28 picks, the biggest total of his career. He made bad passes, zero doubt about that. His receivers also ran bad routes and dropped balls right in their hands. Can't lay it all at Eli's feet even though everyone tried to. You try winning games without Victor Cruz in the lineup, with David Wilson MIA and with Hakeem Nicks about as effective as he would have been as a 14 year old in the NFL. Manning pressed, and the results showed the cracks in the foundation of the Giants' offense. He might be a leader on the field, but Eli's more a game manager than a guy who should be looked at to take over a game.
Eli has only thrown for 30 scores once (31 in 2010). In this day and age of pass happy clubs, that's a little disheartening. Eli is also coming off his worst statistical season. He set a career low in QB Rating (69.4), failed to complete 59.9 percent of his passes for the first time since 2007 (57.5 percent) and failed to throw for 20 touchdowns for the first time ever. The interceptions exploded as well, he threw 27 after averaging 16 a season the previous two years. The numbers reflected what the eyes saw – he was terrible last year and limped to the finish line (he threw four scores and 10 interceptions in his last five games). Was that merely a result of being beat down and pressing or was it something more sinister?
There are also some questions about the running game with the Giants this season. Sounds like David Wilson has finally hung up the cleats, and they will miss his dynamic talents. The load will fall to Rashad Jennings. A talented back, Jennings can do a little bit of everything including catching the ball out of the backfield. At the same time he's never been a starter heading into a season, an it's a lot different touching the ball 125 times than it is 250. He's supported by burly 4th round selection Andre Williams, but after that there are names like Michael Cox and Peyton Hillis on hand. If either one of the top-2 backs comes down with an injury, well, let's just say that would put a lot of pressure on Eli and the passing attack.
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Summary – This is taken directly from my Did You Know piece for the DRAFT GUIDE that you can link to above.
“Eli Manning was terrible last season with 18 scores and 27 interceptions. Still, over 16 games the past five years his average season has resulted in 4,144 yards and 26 scores. Do you know which quarterbacks failed to reach both those marks last season? Here's a short list: Tony Romo, Nick Foles, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco to name a few. Oh heck, Aaron Rodgers and Robert Griffin III also failed to get there.”
I really think it would be instructive for folks to take a look at that section again. Let it sink in to your conscience. Eli, while never great, has always been pretty good.
Passing: 377-for-606 (62.2%), 4,212, 26 TDs, 19 INTs
Current ADP: For a review of his ADP Data check out the 2014 Fantasy Football ADP Report: August 4th where I break down the thoughts of the masses on the younger Manning.