This week’s Sleeper Watch features a couple of Giants pass catching options looking to replace Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith in Big Blue’s aerial attack.
Derek Hagan | WR | New York Giants | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
At this point in the season sometimes opportunity is reason enough to own a player, hoping one can catch lightning in a bottle, and Derek Hagan is one beneficiary of an opportunity to move up the pecking order for targets in New York. The Giants passing game has been decimated by injuries to their wide receivers, losing Victor Cruz and Ramses Barden to season-ending injuries, and more importantly, losing Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith for the next few weeks to various injuries as well. The injuries have vaulted Mario Manningham to the number one wide receiver spot, with Hagan now serving as the number two.
The former Miami Dolphins third-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Arizona State has done little to stir the interest of fantasy football gamers to date in his career. Most owners will likely continue to ignore him, and those in shallow league sizes probably should. However, owners in larger leagues, or medium sized leagues that start three wide receivers, would be wise to take a look at the Giants upcoming matchups before bypassing Hagan entirely. The next three weeks for Big Blue feature matchups against three bottom-ten teams in pass defense. The first of the Giants matchups comes against the second-worst pass defense in the league, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are allowing 264.6 yards per game and quarterbacks to post a passer rating of 103.9 against them, thanks in large part to a gaudy 8.8 yards per attempt and a 20:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. After facing the Jaguars the Giants play the Redskins, who have allowed an average of 280.1 yards passing against per game and 18 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions (four of which came in one game against Jay Cutler, who was feeling the holiday giving spirit a little early). The Giants cap this trio of games off with a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, who are in a downward spiral and are allowing opposing quarterbacks to pick them apart to the tune of a 91.5 passer rating and 218.0 yards per game.
Opposing defenses are likely to try and force the Giants to beat them through the air, and will almost certainly be focused on taking their best pass catching target away in Mario Manningham. With that in mind, others in the Giants passing game should get the opportunity to face softer coverage, and that includes their new number two wide receiver Derek Hagan. At 6′2″ and 210 pounds, Hagan possesses good size to be a solid red-zone threat for Eli Manning, and his touchdown potential alone makes him rosterable in some leagues.
Travis Beckum | TE | New York Giants | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Like Hagan, Travis Beckum will see his role in the Giants offense expand do to the litany of injuries to the team’s pass catching options. Unlike Hagan, Beckum sees his name on the Sleeper Watch list because of his tight end position designation. Not much of a pass catcher to date in his career (he has just 19 receptions in two seasons), Beckum has seen time in the slot on third downs for the Giants this year. It is possible, if not likely, that the former Wisconsin Badger star will see more snaps in the slot in the coming weeks.
Standing 6′3″ and weighing 239 pounds with decent timed speed (high 4.50’s to low 4.60’s in the forty-yard dash) and solid hands, Beckum poses a potential matchup problem for opposing defenses. Drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Giants more for his receiving skills than his blocking skills as a tight end, Beckum has the opportunity to show his ability in the next few weeks. As I’ve previously noted, the Giants schedule lays out favorably for the passing attack in the next three weeks, so those in dire straits at the tight end position in deep leagues should consider rolling the dice with Beckum.
Josh Shepardson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of B-Chad.
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