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Player Rankings – Super Bowl XLVI
New York Giants vs. New England – Sunday, Feb. 5th – 6:29pm ET (NBC)
(Updated: Monday, Jan. 30 - 04:26PM CT)
1. Tom Brady (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – With the defensive-minded Baltimore Ravens out of the way, Tom Brady and the Patriots can go back to doing what they do best—meticulously demoralizing their competition one drive at a time. The Giants have been showing some good intensity so far during these playoffs, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but they’re not quite on the Ravens level and will have a real tough time being able to stop Brady and Co. with as much regularity. In their meeting back in Week 9 of the regular season, Brady did well throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also intercepted and sacked twice each as the Pats ended up with their first home loss in two and a half seasons. Be that as it may, with two weeks to prepare for this Super Bowl XLII rematch, Brady and his offense will have had enough time to put together a game-plan geared towards Brady’s strengths—which is sure to be bad news for the Giants’ secondary.
2. Eli Manning (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – Eli Manning and the Giants have outdueled Tom Brady and the Patriots in each of their last two games, though not necessarily from a fantasy standpoint. In their matchup earlier this season, with 15 seconds to go, Manning hit tight end Jake Ballard with a one-yard touchdown pass to beat the Patriots 24-20. However, though the TD would match Brady by giving them each two for the game, it took Eli’s 48 yards passing during that final drive just to get him within 100 yards of Brady’s total (342–250). Considering that WR Hakeem Nicks was out for that game, Manning is sure to put up better numbers this time around with a full set of receivers at his disposal and the Patriots boasting one of the worst pass defenses in the league. All things being equal, the revenge factor from both the loss earlier this season and the loss in the Super Bowl four years ago should give Brady the slight fantasy edge this Super Bowl Sunday.
1. BenJarvus Green–Ellis (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – I can’t see the running game being too much of a factor on either side of the ball, but if one running back does happen to make his mark on this game, it will most likely be The Law Firm. Because he rarely ever fumbles, Green-Ellis has the full trust of his coaches and will see more carries than anyone else, especially around the goal line. At any rate, with neither team having allowed a rushing touchdown so far in this post-season, it would be a huge fantasy bonus to select the one guy who might. That guy is BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
2. Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – The chances of this game being anything but an aerial slugfest are slim to none, so don’t expect too much out of the New York Giants backfield. However, because Ahmad Bradshaw is the primary passing-down back, he will undoubtedly receive more touches in the game than Jacobs thus giving him more of a chance to do something fantasy-wise. Considering the Patriots held Ray Rice to just 67 rushing yards (on 3.2 yards/carry), no touchdowns and only one reception for 11 yards in the AFC Championship game, there’s no way you can expect anything more than that from Bradshaw this Sunday.
3. Brandon Jacobs (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – Jacobs only real chance of putting up some fantasy points in this game is if the Giants end up with a first down opportunity inside the five-yard line, thus giving the Juggernaut a possible two chances to plow one into the end zone. Other than that, don’t expect him to see more than six or seven carries throughout the game despite his nice effort against the Pats earlier in the season (with Ahmad Bradshaw out due to injury).
4. Danny Woodhead (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – Danny Woodhead shook some of the confidence of his coaches after losing a fumble during a kickoff return against the Ravens last game. He may end up leading the New England backfield in snaps during the Super Bowl, but don’t expect him to touch the ball enough to make a fantasy difference.
5. Stevan Ridley (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
6. D.J. Ware (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
7. Kevin Faulk (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
8. Henry Hynoski (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
1. Wes Welker (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – This Super Bowl is going to be a shootout for the ages, no question about it. What else could possibly be expected when you have two of the best quarterbacks in the game going up against two of the worst pass defenses in the league? No doubt a game such as this plays right into the hands of a guy like Wes Welker. His motor never stops running and against a Giants defense that will more than likely be gasping for air all game long, I have no doubt the Slot Machine will see at least 10 targets and possibly more considering how much Brady trusts him in crunch-time. If the G-Men decide that rolling coverage towards the Patriots tight ends is the best way to slow down their offense, look for Welker to end up with double-digit receptions and well over 100 yards by the end of this one.
2. Victor Cruz (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – Hakeem Nicks was the undeniable stud for the Giants WR corps during New York’s first two games of the playoffs, but when the 49ers decided to concentrate their efforts on stopping Nicks, Cruz took on the role without missing a beat grabbing 10 balls for 142 yards in the Giants win. New England knows how bad they are at defending the pass, so look for them to play deep this Sunday in an effort to deny Nicks and the big play first. If that happens, it’s a strategy that will play right into Victor’s sweet spot as he seems to do his best work from the slot position making plays over the middle of the field.
3. Hakeem Nicks (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – You could make a strong case for Nicks being the most talented wide receiver in this game, but having the most talent doesn’t necessarily translate into having the best stats. The Patriots pass defense is bad enough for Hakeem to put up real good numbers no matter how they play him, but I expect New England to do whatever they can to limit Nicks’ big-play ability, thus capping the gifted third-year receiver’s potential.
4. Mario Manningham (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – When you look at the Giants squad and see guys like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz running around out there, it’s very easy to glance over a player like Mario Manningham—though you really shouldn’t. Manningham may have only eight receptions for 116 yards in the Giants three playoff games this post-season, but he also has a touchdown catch in each one of them making Super Mario a threat on any given Super Bowl play.
5. Deion Branch (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are without a doubt the three players Tom Brady directs his most focus towards throughout each game, but if the Giants forget about the 32-year-old Deion Branch for a split second, Brady will make them pay. I can’t say I’m expecting much from the grizzled veteran, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him come up with a big catch or two in the game either.
6. Julian Edelman (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
7. Devin Thomas (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
8. Chad Ochocinco (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
1. Rob Gronkowski (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – What can you say about Gronk that hasn’t already been said this year. He’s a humongous tight end who can make whatever type of play you need him to make, while also being the type of big-game player who will make those plays when they count the most. He has as much trust from Tom Brady as anyone who has ever played with him and there’s no doubt in my mind that with all the chips on the table, Brady will go to him in any and all situations. I’ll be absolutely dumbfounded if Gronk doesn’t come away with two touchdowns this Sunday, especially with the Giants being one of the worst teams in the league this year at covering tight ends.
2. Aaron Hernandez (vs. NYG – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – Aaron Hernandez is such a unique and special talent that coach Bill Belichick recently decided to start using him as a running back on a semi-regular basis. He doesn’t see quite the amount of targets as Gronkowski does, but his combination of speed and size makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball no matter where he is on the field. If this game ends up being as high-scoring as I believe it will, Hernandez will undoubtedly secure at least one touchdown and should rival both Gronk and Welker for total catches in the game as well.
3. Jake Ballard (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET) – During this first week of practice leading up to the big game, Jake Ballard came out to say that he finally feels his health is back to where it was early on in the season. For Giants fans, they couldn’t be happier to hear the news as Ballard had carved out a nice niche in the offense over the first half of the year. Injuries, however, slowed him to the point of non-existence towards the end, but they sure could use him now in a possible Super Bowl shootout this Sunday.
4. Travis Beckum (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
5. Bear Pascoe (vs. NE – Sunday, Feb 5th - 6:29pm ET)
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