Fantasy owners were hit with the news Wednesday that Hakeem Nicks, who had been expected to play in this game despite being listed as questionable, didn’t even make the trip to Carolina. It’s just one of many absences for the Giants, who also go to battle without starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, No. 3 wide receiver Domenik Hixon and starting tackle David Diehl. And that doesn’t include the bevy of injuries the Giants have sustained on defense already, particularly in the secondary.
New York Giants
So if those guys are out, who’s in? Fortunately, they still have quarterback Eli Manning around, and he gives them a fighting chance in any game. Despite being down big to the Buccaneers last week, Manning and the Giants stormed back to take the lead and eventually win, with Manning racking up 510 passing yards on the day. He’s clearly a serviceable QB1, even without Nicks, Hixon and Bradshaw by his side.
Manning should be locked on to Victor Cruz in this game, though the Panthers are certainly going to be doing everything they can to take the Giants’ only remaining reliable receiver out of the attack. A byproduct of the injuries will have Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle playing more than usual, but neither are recommended options.
In fact, the guy that could wind up picking up the slack in the passing game is Martellus Bennett. The Cowboys castoff has been great in the early going, catching TDs in both of the Giants’ first games. He saw 10 targets last week as the Giants stayed in catch-up mode, catching five for 72 yards. He’s a dark-horse 100-yard candidate in this game.
As for the running game, the likely scenario will feature a committee attack between Andre Brown and David Wilson. Although Wilson was a first-round pick in April, the Giants were reluctant to use him in Week 2 when Bradshaw went down. It’s highly unlikely that he’s instilled gobs of confidence in the coaching staff over the last few days, so expect Brown to get the bulk of the work.
Brown’s a solid RB2 in fantasy leagues this week and a great flex option after rushing for 71 yards on 13 carries last week. If he does well again this week, the Giants could feature him in a Brandon Jacobs-type role moving forward even when Bradshaw is healthy, so be sure he’s added in all leagues.
Teams have had no problem passing on the Giants this year, with injuries forcing the Giants to rely too much on guys like Michael Coe, Jayron Hosley and Justin Tryon. This is great news for wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. The former is a rock solid WR1 this week, while the latter should do enough to rest comfortably in WR3 territory at worst.
Cam Newton was shut down on the ground in Week 1 but came through with 71 rushing yards and a rushing TD in Week 2. He’s had just one passing TD in each of the first two weeks, but I like his chances to throw for multiple TDs this week. One could go to Greg Olsen, who’s been quite so far. He’s a borderline TE1.
The status of running back Jonathan Stewart is up in the air as he deals with injuries to his ankle and toe. After missing Week 1 due to injury, Stewart managed 51 yards on 11 carries as well as a 17-yard receiving TD. If the team decides to put him on the inactive list, his presence would be missed.
However, that would leave DeAngelo Williams to act as a clear-cut RB1 for the Panthers this week. The Giants gave up 131 yards on the ground to DeMarco Murray in Week 1 and
122 yards to Marshawn Lynch just 66 yards to Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin with a TD in Week 2. Could Williams be the third back to run for 100 yards against the Giants this week? It seems likely if Stewart it out.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to CBSSports.com's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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