So far, we’ve profiled Ahmad Bradshaw and Victor Cruz. Today, we’ll preview the man who is arguably Big Blue’s best play maker, Hakeem Nicks. Nicks, who broke his foot during a May 23rd organized training activity (“OTA”), vows he will be ready to go for Week 1’s home opener against Dallas. Given the injury to his foot, does Nicks’ fantasy value take a severe hit?

Overview

No one will deny Hakeem Nicks’ talent. Nicks is an absolute beast of a wide receiver who possess a killer ‘my ball’ mentality. In his last two seasons with Big Blue, Nicks has scored 18 TDs and averaged 1,125 yards per season. Despite not scoring a touchdown in last season’s playoff run, Nicks posted three 100 yard games and was the main focus of the oppositions defense. There’s no doubt that Nicks is Eli’s top receiving option.

The Positives

Nicks is the top option in one of the league’s most potent passing attacks. In addition, Nicks benefits from Victor Cruz lining up in the slot. Eli Manning attempted over 590 passing attempts last season, so there won’t be any shortage of targets. While Nicks saw his touchdown figures regress from 11 to 7, Brandon Jacobs’ departure will open new opportunities. Expect Eli to target him even more heavily in the red zone. 

The Negatives

It’s hard to play doctor. Typically, a broken foot takes at least two months to fully heal before working on strength and conditioning. There’s no doubt in my mind that Nicks will not be in ‘football shape’ and that may lead to some lackluster early performances. Nicks has been ‘nicked’ up before and has overcome those injuries so there is reason for optimism. The NFL has become a pass heavy league, but virtually no teams outside of Detroit are trying to match Tom Brady/Randy Moss circa 2007. Teams like to spread the ball around and there’s no doubt that the Giants will distribute targets to both Nicks and Cruz. 

The Outlook

According MDC, Hakeem Nicks is currently being selected as the 43rd player and 16th WR/TE. Nicks is currently being drafted in the same range as Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant. Of the three, I prefer Bryant, Nicks, and then Nelson, but I think Nicks presents a fine value for his owners. Remember, Nicks was the third or fourth receiver drafted last season and did put up a career high in receiving yards. The TDs will normalize and he should vault back into the Top 10 WRs. Keep an eye on the foot, but realize that it ultimately provides more value. Draft him with confidence.

2012 Projection: 74 catches, 1,150 yards, 9 TDs