Thursday Night Football: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
New York Giants
Quarterback – Eli Manning is in some kind of slump right now as he failed to reach 230 yards passing for the fifth consecutive game on Sunday. He ended up throwing for 201 yards which resulted in his first 200-plus yard performance in a month. Over the course of the last month, Manning has topped 16 fantasy points and it came in a game against the lowly Browns where he happened to throw three TD passes. However, the last time he played the Eagles he did throw for 257 yards and four TDs. All of the Eagles cornerbacks grade below league average so he should have the chance to pick on them once again. Additionally, the Eagles have allowed at least 26 actual points in five consecutive games. While starting a QB on Thursday Night Football never seems ideal, this is actually a pretty solid spot for Manning. Even if factoring in his limited upside from the last month, he still should possess at least a stable floor.
Running Back – The RB situation is simply a mess. Paul Perkins has not topped double-digit fantasy points since October 3rd and Jennings has done it once in the last month (December 4th). In that game, Jennings rushed six times for 19 yards but happened to catch six passes for 34 yards and a TD. Although the Eagles struggle to cover backs out of the backfield, Jennings has caught a total of one passing TD this season and 30 passes total. By comparison, Matt Asiata has caught four less and Isaiah Crowell has caught three more. Once again, the Giants backs can be left alone.
Wide Receiver – Three words: Odell Beckham Jr. Against a group of subpar cornerbacks, Beckham projects as one of the top two WR plays of the week. In his last meeting against the Eagles, he roasted these cornerbacks for 4-46-2 and it could have been much worse (he was targeted 10 times). Philadelphia’s best cover corner still grades outside of the top 80 at the position so this is going to be a long day for their secondary. Sterling Shepard has complemented Beckham well this year too and he has topped double-digit fantasy points in five of his last seven games. Although he has only seen nine targets over the past two weeks, he did score against the Lions. Both the receivers have excellent matchups but Manning is more likely to lock onto his top target. For what it is worth, the Eagles rank 20th in DVOA against number two WRs so there is some GPP appeal to rostering Shepard also.
Tight End – The Giants TEs are not fantasy options.
Defense – All of a sudden, this Giants defense looks like a dominant unit as they have allowed six and seven points respectively in their last two games. With the Eagles implied to score less than 20 points, they are once again an elite play this week, especially with the offense on short rest. Sure their price has risen but this is a unit that has produced at least six fantasy points in every game since mid-October. Considering the team ranks 14th in sacks (31.0) and eighth in interceptions (14), there are multiple ways for this defense to potentially eclipse 10 fantasy points yet again.
Quarterback – The Giants have held each of their last two opponents below 10 points (average of 6.5 points during that span) and now Carson Wentz will square off against this defense in a game where Vegas implies the Eagles will score 19.5 points. Back on November 6th, Wentz threw for 362 yards against the Cowboys on the road, but he was on a full week of rest and the Giants were not on this impressive mini run. The good news is the Giants are susceptible to TEs, and some of Wentz’s favorite targets are TEs, but there clearly is no reason to use him in this spot.
Running Back – With Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood both out for the season, Ryan Mathews should carry the load this week. If searching for a volume runner, Mathews is coming off a week where he carried the ball 20 times for 128 yards and a score and even caught his lone target. The issue here is the Giants rank fifth in rushing DVOA so the matchup is not exactly filled with upside. In his last meeting against the Giants, Mathews rushed five times for 15 yards and a TD. In this go-around, more volume can be expected but it is hard to imagine the workload resulting in an overly effective yardage output per carry. If he is able to find the end zone, he should at least be able to make his day respectable, and he has been given exactly 40-percent of the team’s red zone carries over the span of the last four weeks. Meanwhile, the Giants rank third in DVOA against RBs in the passing game as well so a banged up Darren Sproles can be safely avoided.
Wide Receiver – Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have proven to be as dominant a duo of cornerbacks as there is in the NFL this year outside of Chris Harris/Aqib Talib. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Rodgers-Cromartie patrols the slot more than half the time (55-percent). He should be able to neutralize Jordan Matthews and therefore the Eagles WRs are not worthy of consideration.
Tight End – If starting one player on the Eagles, Zach Ertz stands out as above and beyond the best play. After being targeted 15 and 13 times respectively in his two games prior the team’s meeting against the Ravens last week, Ertz saw eight targets and caught six of them for 80 yards. Now this is extra noteworthy because the Ravens grade as a top five TE defense according to DVOA so the 14.0 fantasy points are more impressive than they seem. Thankfully, the matchup this week is a gigantic (pun intended) upgraded as the Giants rank 26th in TE DVOA defense and have allowed 70.1 yards per game to the position. In fact, the Giants have struggled to cover the middle of the field as a whole all season long. Therefore, Trey Burton, the team’s second TE, could have some value too especially in any specialized, smaller slates being offered across the industry. Burton has been targeted at least six times in every game over the course of the last three weeks and last week was the first time he failed to reach double-digit fantasy points during that span. If the Eagles are going to potentially compete and win this game, they will need to attack the middle of the field early and often, so it would make sense to scheme Burton into the game plan yet again.
Defense – Playing on a Thursday night is the top selling point for an Eagles defense that has allowed at least 26 real points in five consecutive games. Sure they have produced back-to-back seven-plus fantasy point outings but those have come on the heels of three sacks and a fumble recovery against the Ravens and a pick six against the Redskins in Week 13. Unfortunately for this defense, the Giants offensive line is playing well so there is not a ton of upside here.