The Giants looked like they were in a tough spot last night, taking on the Cam-Newton-led Panthers on the road without the services of David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw, Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks. Important offensive players all, and plenty thought that without them, the Giants didn’t stand a chance. Every NFL Network analyst picked the Panthers.
And then, the Giants went out and did everything but burn Bank of America Stadium to the ground.
They won 36-7, dominating in all phases – thanks in no small part to the man who picked up the slack for the injured receivers, Ramses Barden. Barden had by far the best game of his career, catching nine passes (on 10 targets) for 138 yards, undoubtedly leading many fantasy team owners to ask the question: should I try to pick this guy up? Well, as with most decisions, there are pros and cons. Let’s look over a few of them, shall we?
Pro: Barden just caught nine passes for 138 yards in an NFL game. You don’t do that unless you have talent. It’s going to be hard for the Giants to ignore having that type of weapon on the field going forward – an they shouldn’t. Additionally, while it’s unclear whether Nicks or Hixon will miss any more time, these things could still happen: 1) one or both don’t return for the Giants’ next game; 2) they return but remain injury-prone throughout the year; 3) they return and are fine health-wise, but have to be gradually worked back into the mix thanks to Barden’s emergence/the Giants exercising caution about the health of both.
Additionally: Barden is 6-6. He didn’t catch any touchdown passes last night, but sooner or later, the Giants are going to take advantage of having that big a target in the red zone. Barden won’t be catching nine passes every time out, but he will score touchdowns. He’s too enticing a “throw it up and see what happens” option not to.
Con: He’s only done it once. Barden was extremely impressive last night and proved he can be an excellent NFL receiver, but he won’t know if he will be unless he strings a bunch of good performances together.
And Hixon and Nicks will return, probably sooner rather than later, and when they do, there will still only be one football to distribute between all of them. Nicks is too good not to get his share, which means Barden’s number of targets will immediately drop, and most likely drop pretty far. If you’re thinking of adding Barden, know that you can’t realistically expect anywhere near the guy who showed up last night to show up on a regular basis.
So, should you add Barden or not? I say if your receiver depth is lacking, pick him up. I take a look at my fantasy team, for example, and on my bench I see the Rams’ Steve Smith, who has just 55 yards, and no scores, through two games. Is a guy who just had a game like Barden, who plays on a team that likes to throw the ball, looking like an attractive option to me? You bet he is.
Barden showed too much last night for the Giants to just go back to ignoring him when Nicks and Hixon come back. Plus, Eli Manning slings the ball around enough (51 pass attempts against the Bucs, 35 last night even though he didn’t play the whole game) that even if there aren’t enough touches for three or four Giants receivers to be fantasy stars, there should be enough so that everyone can be a solid contributor. Don’t go making Barden a starter just yet, but if you’re not quite satisfied with your lineup of receivers and he’s there for the taking, he’s worth a shot.
Getty photo, by Streeter Lecka