Winning a championship is a definite boon to fantasy productivity. The coaching staff is given leeway and job security, which allows them to keep the players they like and keep their offense in place. The down side is that some players will defect to the highest bidders, but their losses are usually not significant. When a team has stability, backups and free agents are eager to step in.
The Giants are some of the strongest evidence we have that line play determines success in the NFL. A few years ago the Giants O-line was one of the worst units in the game. In 2007, all 5 starters on the Offensive line started 16 games. All are between the ages of 25 and 30, and they're all signed long term. The personnel department should get a big pat on the back for managing to pull this off. This bodes extremely well for both the running game and for Eli's ability stay upright.
It will be fun to see where Eli gets drafted this year. On one hand, there were an easy 5 Million people in NYC alone who were certifiable Eli bashers who thought he was a bust who'd never amount to anything. After a healthy helping of crow, some people may be fully converted and drafting Eli way too high, many other football fans will remain unconvinced and write his success off as a fluke. Here are the stats:
The last three seasons he has had 24, 24, and 23 TD passes. He has had 17, 18, and 20 INT. He has had 3762, 3244, and 3336 pass yards. Remarkably consistent. Eli is a known quantity. Expect 20-25 TD, 3300-3800 yards, and 15-20 Int's. However that lines up in your scoring system is where you should take him. That's fringe top-10 territory for most.
Every year there are fringe RB's that make the leap into being a true number 1 option. Brandon Jacobs is poised for that kind of a breakout. He missed 7 games in 2007 and still broke 1,000 yards at 5 yards per carry. He also caught 23 passes. His numbers extrapolated over 16 games are 1,800 rush yards, 7 TD, and 40 catches for 300 yards. Monster numbers.
There are two impediments to Jacobs pushing his way into the "Elite RB" discussion:
1. Health. However, you can't label Jacobs as "injury prone" any more so than any other back, yet. It's too early. One season where you get hurt proves nothing.
2. Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. Both of them had great success filling in for Jacobs (more proof that it's the line). Either of them could be a real threat to replacing Jacobs for 3rd downs or even extended stretches. As shown last season, just about any RB would have success in this backfield. Note: Bradshaw just did a 30-day jail stint. Players who go to jail in the offseason, tend to take a while before they contribute again (See: Lewis, Jamal).
Plaxico Burress is a hard guy to nail down. Physically, he's as talented as WR's come. However, year after year, he doesn't quite wow you. He's never topped 78 receptions, and has hovered around 1,000 yards per season with the Giants. I think 2008 may be one of his better seasons. He spent all of 2007 fighting ankle and knee issues, but played in every game and nabbed 12 TD's. Reports are that he feels quite a bit better, so a slight bump in numbers may get him into legitimate WR1 territory.
If you are looking to fill your bench, you could do worse than Amani Toomer. 50-60 catches, and around 700 yards is his ceiling. There's also the possibility he gets passed by Steve Smith on the depth chart around midseason.
One of my core fantasy rules: stay away from toxic situations. The Jeremy Shockey/Kevin Boss situation has not been resolved. Downgrade both players accordingly. That said Shockey is the better of the two options. He's proven that he can be a good TE for a season. Boss added 20 lbs in the offseason. Presumably, he is going to be used as more of a run blocker than a pass catching threat. That could change in a hurry if Shockey is eventually traded.
Lost: LB Kawika Mitchell, S Gibril Wilson, LB Reggie Torbor and DT William Joseph, DE Michael Strahan.
Strahan is the only significant loss. The others are very replaceable. Sammy Knight and first round draft pick Kenny Phillips will be an upgrade from Wilson.
Their D gave up 40 ppg the first 2 weeks of the season, and 19 ppg the rest of the way. They got their act together, and that should continue in 2008.