The Primer: Week 7 Edition (2020 Fantasy Football)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders
Line: TB by 3.0
Tom Brady: He hasn’t been a reliable fantasy quarterback through six weeks, as he’s now scored 14.6 or fewer points in 3-of-6 games. He has gotten more into his game-manager ways as of late, though, as he’s thrown just one interception over the last four games after throwing three of them in the first two games. We always knew there was going to be a learning curve with his wide receivers in a brand-new offense. The problem for his fantasy prospects as of late has been the dominant play of his defense and stellar run-game on the shoulders of Ronald Jones. Teams have chosen to pass on 58.4 percent of their plays against the Raiders, which is almost in line with the 59.9 percent pass-rate of the Bucs offense. The issue for Brady here is that the Raiders have allowed just 15.99 fantasy points per game through the air alone, which is how he gets 99 percent of his fantasy points. The reason for the lack of points to quarterbacks is because teams have run the ball in the red zone, scoring every 13.7 carries against them, which is more often than any other team in the league. That’s left quarterbacks with just a 3.95 percent touchdown-rate. It’s not because they’re great, so there’s a chance Brady tosses a few touchdowns where other teams would’ve run them in. The Raiders have struggled to generate pressure and sacks, so the fact that Brady has a 108.9 QB Rating in a clean pocket bodes well for his efficiency. It’s fair to say Brady is a high-end QB2 with a limited ceiling but decent floor.
Derek Carr: Through five weeks, Carr’s 11 touchdown passes ranked sixth in the NFL. His 73.1 percent completion-rate ranked as the No. 2 quarterback behind only Teddy Bridgewater. Keep in mind he lost Tyrell Williams before the season started and was then missing Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards for two games. What he’s done while working through that is might impressive. Still, he ranked as the No. 12 quarterback, just highlighting how limited his ceiling is without any totals on the ground. Now onto the Bucs, who’ve actually allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per offensive play this year. They’re allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opponents, behind only the Colts and Bears. What makes it even more impressive is that teams have dropped back to pass on 64.5 percent of their plays, which ranks as the third-highest number in football, so it’s not a lack of trying. They’ve allowed just 13.25 fantasy points per game through the air alone, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in the league. It makes sense as they’ve allowed the fourth-fewest points per actual pass attempt (0.37). In case you needed to be reminded, Carr has totaled 3.4 fantasy points on the ground all year. Pressure will be key for the Bucs (rank second in the league in pressure and sacks), as Carr is the second-best quarterback in the league from a clean pocket (124.4 QB Rating) but 11th when under pressure (89.1 QB Rating). Carr should not be someone you’re aiming to stream this week and is just a low-end QB2 even in Superflex/2QB formats.
Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette: Outside of maybe Derrick Henry, is there a running back who’s carrying the ball better than Jones the last month? Since the start of Week 4, Jones ranks fourth in fantasy points behind only Joe Mixon, Henry, and Mike Davis. While we had concerns about a single fumble taking away his job, he’s played well enough where the leash has lengthened. Now onto a matchup against the Raiders, who’ve allowed five running backs finish as the RB17 or better against them, including three running backs who finished as the No. 2 running back on the week. They’ve allowed a massive 5.21 yards per carry, which ranks as the third-highest mark in the league, but even more importantly, they’ve allowed a rushing touchdown every 13.7 carries. It’s not just on the ground, either. Targets are like super glue to running backs against the Raiders; they can’t get away from them. Their opponents have targeted the running back position a league-high 28.8 percent of the time. All in all, they face 29.4 running back opportunities per game. That’s massive, but so is the 1.12 PPR points per opportunity they’ve allowed, which ranks second to only the Packers, the team Jones just tagged for 121 total yards and two touchdowns. He’s touched the ball at least 20 times in each of the last three games and has three straight 100-yard rushing performances, so keep him rolling as a low-end RB1 this week. Fournette is an afterthought at this point who may not even be active on gameday. He does remain the handcuff to Jones, though.
Josh Jacobs: He led the league in carries coming into Week 6, though his 3.56 yards per carry isn’t helping fantasy managers. Fortunately, he’s averaging 3.0 receptions per game, which are providing a stable floor regardless of gamescript. Because of that, he’s totaled at least 18 touches in every game. His weighted opportunity ranks fifth among running backs, behind only Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, and Christian McCaffrey/Mike Davis. That’s all fine and dandy, but the matchup he has on deck with the Bucs is a brutal one on the ground. They’ve allowed a minuscule 2.80 yards per carry on the year, which is even better than the league-low 3.02 yards per carry they allowed to running backs last year. They haven’t allowed a running back to reach 60 yards on the ground against them this year, and that’s despite playing against Aaron Jones, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Melvin Gordon. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to Week 11 of last year to find the last running back who totaled more than 58 yards on the ground. That’s an 11-game streak with sub-60 yards on the ground. There has been some success through the air this year, though. They’ve allowed 78.2 PPR points through the air to running backs, which ranks as the fifth-most in the league, and that’s where you have to hope Jacobs makes his mark. You’re still starting him as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 with the massive volume he’s gotten, but you don’t want to attack him heavily in DFS this week.
Chris Godwin: How are we supposed to feel about Godwin at this point in time? He’s only played three games with Brady, and though he has at least six targets in each game, he hasn’t topped 79 yards and has just one touchdown. But again, those targets are consistent, and so is the fact that he’s caught at least five passes in each game. We have to assume the connection grows between the two as the weeks go on. The Raiders have not been a great matchup for receivers to this point, as they’ve allowed just four receivers to crack 54 yards, and all of them totaled at least six targets, so volume has been necessary. Lamarcus Joyner is their slot cornerback who’s been good in that role going back to last year. With the Raiders, he’s allowed 71-of-98 passing for 685 yards and three touchdowns. That amounts to 6.99 yards per target and a touchdown every 32.7 targets. The Raiders as a whole have allowed 9.31 yards per target to receivers, which is the seventh-highest mark in the league, though production has been scattered. Godwin should continue to be plugged in as a WR2 whose arrow should be pointing up.
Mike Evans: He’s now finished with 41 yards or less in 4-of-6 games, and that’s despite Godwin not being in the lineup for three of them. Touchdowns have masked what’s been a mess of a year for Evans, as he’s averaging a career-low 12.2 yards per reception (was over 17 YPR over the last two seasons), so he’s not getting the splash plays nearly as often as he was with Jameis Winston. The crazy part is that 22 percent of Evans’ targets are 20-plus yards down the field, which is the same exact percentage as last year. The Raiders are allowing a robust 14.5 yards per reception to receivers this year, which ranks as the fourth-highest mark in the league. He’ll see a mix of Trayvon Mullen and Nevin Lawson in coverage this week, a duo that’s allowed 23-of-37 passing for 289 yards and two touchdowns in their coverage this year. It’s been somewhat of a rough ride for Evans this year but continue plugging him in as a WR2 who has multiple avenues to fantasy points and has seen at least eight targets in three of his last five games.
Scotty Miller: He’s been an afterthought over the last two weeks, totaling just two targets, so you’re not even contemplating him unless it’s a dire situation. We must remember he was trying to play through an injury, which clearly affected his role in the offense. The Raiders have allowed 14.5 yards per reception to wide receivers, which is the fourth-highest mark in the league, so it aligns pretty well with Miller’s team-high 16.3 air yards per target. He’s nothing more than a hail-mary who’s available on waivers, but he did see 21 targets in the first four weeks before the injury happened.
Henry Ruggs: He missed two weeks, which hurt fantasy managers, but he’s also seen just three targets in each of the last two games he’s played. Fortunately, he showcased some of that one-play upside he possesses in their last game when he turned those three targets into two catches, 118 yards, and a touchdown. Unfortunately, the Bucs have not been a team to allow the big play, as they’ve allowed just 11.35 yards per reception to wide receivers this year, which ranks as the second-lowest mark in the league. Volume has been important against them considering they’ve allowed just 14 pass plays of 20-plus yards through six games, which is the third-lowest mark in the league, and the two teams in front of them have already had their bye weeks. There have been 10 wide receivers (seven of them had nine-plus targets) who’ve been able to amass 10.5 or more PPR points, so it’s not a complete mess, but rather a matchup with a limited ceiling. I’d consider him an okay WR4 for this week, as the Raiders are likely going to have trouble running the ball, meaning more pass attempts.
Nelson Agholor and Bryan Edwards: Has Agholor stolen the starting role from Edwards? It seems likely after he’s caught six passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks. The downside is that he’s only seen six targets in those two games, while Edwards never topped three targets in a game. Knowing there’s a chance they split the role, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of optimism for fantasy managers. I’d avoid them in a matchup against the Bucs, who’ve allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers. *Update* Edwards still isn’t practicing.
Hunter Renfrow: After seeing 17 targets in Weeks 3 and 4 combined, Renfrow went back to his limited usage in Week 5 where he saw just two targets and caught one pass. Why? Well, he was on the field for just 16 pass plays while Agholor was for 29 and Ruggs was for 21. When you come on the field only in 3WR sets, it’s tough when playing for a team that runs them just 48 percent of the time, which is one of the lowest percentages in the league. With Bryan Edwards likely returning to the lineup, Renfrow’s role is too muddy to start him with any confidence.
Rob Gronkowski: It was good to see Gronkowski get into the end zone for the first time since Week 11 of 2018 last week. Is he back? We’ve talked about his growing role in the offense, as he’s now seen at least six targets in three of the last four games, including a season-high eight of them last week in a game where Brady threw the ball just 27 times (that’s a 29.6 target share). The Raiders have been what most would describe as a below average matchup for tight ends, as they’ve allowed a 59.4 percent catch-rate (5th-lowest), 6.50 yards per target (9th-lowest), and a touchdown every 16.0 targets (19th-lowest). The only tight end who’s totaled more than 16 yards against them was Travis Kelce when he racked up 8/108/1 in their last game. The other competition was Ian Thomas, Jared Cook, Ryan Izzo, and Dawson Knox, so can we really take much from that sample? I’d say they’re an average matchup for tight ends based on what we saw out of them in the same scheme last year, so knowing Gronkowski’s role continues to grow, he should be on the low-end TE1 radar this week.
Darren Waller: Through five weeks, he led all tight ends in targets (47). It certainly helped that Ruggs and Edwards missed time, but he’s seen a steady stream of targets in almost every game, as evidenced by the seven-plus targets in 4-of-5 games. He’s also caught at least five passes in 4-of-5 games, highlighting a floor that not many wide receivers have, let alone tight ends. The Bucs have been a team that’s improved considerably against tight ends, though they’re still not a matchup you have to avoid, as they’ve allowed four different tight ends finish as top-15 options through six weeks. There have been two tight ends who’ve seen more than five targets against them, and their totals were 5/80/0 (Jared Cook) and 5/46/0 (Noah Fant), two tight ends who move like receivers, just like Waller. With the lack of success the Raiders will have on the ground, it should lead to them targeting Waller a lot, similar to the Saints game back in Week 2. Start him as a high-end TE1 and he should deliver.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
Line: LAR by 5.5
Nick Foles: The Bears are 5-1, which is pretty remarkable considering they have the worst quarterback play in the league. And no, that’s not hyperbole. Foles is averaging a ridiculously low 5.8 yards per attempt. It’s not one game that’s dragged that number down, either, as he has averaged 6.5 or less in every game he’s played and has thrown an interception in all four games. He’s more of a leader than Mitch Trubisky is/was, but he’s not playing better than Trubisky did. Don’t mind Jimmy Garoppolo‘s performance last week. The Rams have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per offensive snap to their opponents. With the Bears defense ranking No. 1 in that category, this looks to be a defensive battle. The 6.49 yards per attempt they’ve allowed ranks as the second-lowest mark in the league. You’re not playing Foles.
Jared Goff: He’s been very hit-or-miss in fantasy this year, as he has three games with less than 15 fantasy points, but three games with at least 23.9 fantasy points. Last week was the first one where Goff threw the ball more than 32 times, and we saw how that went over. The Rams scored 16 points. The Bears require a lot of volume against them, as they’ve allowed a league-low 1.14 PPR points per offensive play. No other team in the league is below 1.20 points per play. Their opponents have averaged 65.5 plays per game, which is a lot, and it’s due to the Bears offense not being able to sustain long drives with a lack of ground game. Still, the Bears have allowed a total of just 74.6 fantasy points per game to their opponents, which ranks as the second-lowest mark in the league. We know that Goff doesn’t do anything with his legs, right? So, when you see the Bears have allowed a league-low 0.312 fantasy points per actual pass attempt, you should run the other way. It’s a combination of everything, too. They’ve allowed just a 57.1 percent completion-rate (1st in NFL), 1.83 percent touchdown-rate (1st in NFL), and 6.55 yards per attempt (4th in NFL). The last two times Goff played against this Bears defense, which were both very similar personnel, he completed 20-of-44 attempts for 180 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions in the first game and then 11-of-18 passing for 173 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception in the second game. He’s not a streamer.
David Montgomery: We know the Bears haven’t been able to throw the ball, so they’ve been able to run the ball, right? Well, no. The 3.9 yards per carry they’ve averaged as a team ranks as the eighth-lowest mark in the league. With that being said, Montgomery’s role has been massive with Tarik Cohen out, as his weighted opportunity is up there with guys like Joe Mixon and Mike Davis. Still, his fantasy finishes have been: 38, 8, 41, 25, 13, 14. We’ve had four top-25 finishes in the last five games, so he’s certainly in the RB2 territory. The Rams rank as the ninth-worst run defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. They’ve allowed a pedestrian 4.34 yards per carry, but have allowed 6.10 yards per target to running backs, which when combined with the 8.3 targets per game they’ve allowed to running backs, you have quite a bit of fantasy points. The 73.5 PPR points they’ve allowed through the air to running backs ranks as the 10th-highest mark in the league. This is important because Montgomery has received 19 targets in the three games without Cohen, and it’s honestly where most of his value comes from. There have been seven running backs who’ve finished as the RB28 or better against the Rams, so Montgomery should come with a stable low-end RB2 floor, though we know he lacks upside.
Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers, and Malcolm Brown: It’s been pretty apparent who the Rams best running back is but don’t go getting overconfident. I know I sound like a broken record, but Sean McVay has said he’s modeling his run-game after Kyle Shanahan and that he’ll play the hot hand on a game-by-game basis. The Bears have been a team you can run the ball against more than in years past, as running backs have averaged a solid 4.31 yards per carry while scoring five touchdowns through six games. That’s been Henderson’s primary area of usage, as he’s tallied 69 of the Rams 118 carries (58.5 percent) over the last five games. If his usage continues in this game, he should be able to deliver a top-25 performance. The Bears have dominated running backs in the passing game while allowing just 1.12 PPR points per target to them on the year, which is the second-lowest number in the league. It’s not a small sample size, either, as they’ve averaged a solid 6.7 targets per game. Because of all these factors, the Bears have yet to allow a top-15 running back against them. There have been three running backs who’ve totaled at least 80 yards on the ground, so Henderson is the only one I’d consider startable when you factor in their roles, though he’s still just a high-end RB3 with the uncertainty in this backfield. Brown’s role typically comes down to passing usage, though he’s still yet to total more than 31 yards through the air, and the Bears have yet to allow a running back more than 36 yards through the air, making him a weak RB4. Akers is a wait-and-see bench stash, but not a great one.
Allen Robinson: Despite the quarterback play behind about as bad as possible, Robinson somehow sits as the No. 9 wide receiver on the season. It certainly helps that he’s seen a league-high 66 targets through six weeks, as he’s averaging just 7.2 yards per target. To highlight how rare it is for a receiver to be top-10 with that number, here’s a stat: No other receiver who’s averaged less than 7.4 yards per target is inside the top-23 wide receivers. There are just two teams who’ve seen less than a 50 percent target share to wide receivers: The Saints and the Rams. They’ve seen an average of 17.2 targets per game to wide receivers, which is going to make it tough for Robinson to get the 11.0 targets that he’s averaging. There’s little doubt that Robinson will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, who’s been pretty great in coverage. He’s allowed just 14-of-25 passing for 113 yards, though two of the receptions did go for touchdowns. The 0.47 yards per snap played he’s allowed ranks fourth among cornerbacks who’ve played at least 70 snaps in coverage. Robinson played against Ramsey last year where he tallied just 4/15/0 on six targets. You aren’t going to sit Robinson, but you do need to temper expectations into the WR2 territory this week.
Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller: There have been just six wide receivers who’ve finished with double-digit PPR points against the Rams, and each of those receivers saw at least six targets, something that’s not even close to guaranteed for either of these two. They’ve combined for just 9.3 targets per game, while the Rams have faced an average of just 17.2 targets per game to wide receivers, which is one of the lowest marks in the league. You can find better streamers on the waiver wire, though if I had to pick one, it’d be Miller.
Robert Woods: It was good to see Woods get 10 targets last week because he seemed to be settling into the 5-7 target range over the last month. He’s not off the hook completely, but we’re headed in the right direction. He’ll need the targets against the Bears if he wants to post a solid fantasy line. The Bears have allowed an unbelievable 1.39 PPR points per target to receivers this year, which is the lowest mark in the league, while no other team has allowed less than 1.58 points per target to them. They’ve now played against nine wide receivers who’ve seen six or more targets, and they’ve yet to allow any of them to finish better than WR23, including Calvin Ridley, Mike Evans, Robby Anderson, and D.J. Moore. And while touchdowns have saved Woods from low yardage totals this year, the Bears have allowed just one touchdown to receivers through six games. Woods will also be playing against Kyle Fuller most of the game, who happens to be the Bears best cornerback. It’s extremely tough to bench Woods in season-long leagues but dial back expectations into the low-end WR2 range.
Cooper Kupp: He leads the team in targets (45) through six games, and though his Week 6 performance was a bust, he was inches away from a big game, as he lost one deep ball in the lights that would’ve gone for a touchdown, and then dropped a touchdown in the end zone. He’s averaged 8.5 targets over their last four games, which is important going into a matchup with the Bears who’ve allowed a ridiculous 1.39 PPR points per target to wide receivers. Kupp’s primary matchup will be against Buster Skrine, who has allowed 22-of-32 passing for 243 yards, though he’s still yet to allow a touchdown. When the Rams played the Bears in Week 11 last year, Kupp saw just three targets but caught all of them for 53 yards. Keep in mind that Goff went 8-of-15 passing for 120 yards to all other targets in that game with no touchdowns. We have seen slot-heavy receivers Danny Amendola (5/81/0) and Golden Tate (5/47/0) against them, so there should be a floor for Kupp here, though upside has been hard to come by, as the Bears have yet to allow a top-20 receiver on the year. Kupp should be considered a low-end WR2 this week.
Jimmy Graham: Sure, Graham has at least five targets in 5-of-6 games, which is great for a tight end. However, he’s topped 34 yards just once and has touchdowns masking that inefficiency. He is tied with Travis Kelce for the most targets inside the red zone (10) and ranks second in targets inside the five-yard line (4), so we have to factor that in, especially when Allen Robinson is going to be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. The Rams have allowed just 5.43 yards per target to tight end, which is essentially what Graham has averaged, though tight ends have been funneled targets against them. They’ve faced 53 targets, the fifth-most in the league, which has allowed tight ends to produce. They’ve allowed three top-12 tight end performances, even though just one tight end (George Kittle) has topped 42 yards. It’s similar to the way it always is with Graham; he’s a touchdown-or-bust play, though he may see more targets than normal this week. Consider him a mid-to-high-end TE2.
Tyler Higbee: Despite the Rams falling behind early against the 49ers, we didn’t see Higbee run any more routes. In fact, he ran just one more route than Gerald Everett. Here are their routes over the first six weeks:
As you can see, this timeshare is a real thing and it’s been trending that way for quite some time. Higbee hasn’t seen more than five targets all year and has just 12 targets over his last four games. The Bears have allowed three different tight ends to compile at least 52 yards against them and have allowed a tight end touchdown in 3-of-6 games. The Rams could choose to go to their tight ends in the red zone a bit more with how good the Bears are against wide receivers, but we also have to worry about the fact that Goff hasn’t thrown a single touchdown pass against the Bears in two games over the last two years. With how little Higbee has been running routes and being targeted, he can’t be trusted as a TE1. He’s just a TE2 and not a very good one.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Line: PHI by 6.0
Daniel Jones: This offseason, there were many who talked about Jones being a potential breakout candidate. I always hesitated to say he was anything more than a streamer due to the boom-or-bust nature of his games. He’s now started 17 games in his career and has totaled more than 14.7 fantasy points just five times. That’s not good. He’s failed to top 13.8 fantasy points in each of his last five games this year and has shown no signs of turning things around anytime soon. The Eagles have been what can best be described as an average pass defense, though you may not think that when looking through the fantasy points they’ve allowed to some quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, and Joe Burrow all finished with 20-plus fantasy points and as top-12 quarterbacks against them. The offense has continually put them in a bad spot, and the defense has suffered because of that, but from an efficiency standpoint, the Eagles have allowed just one quarterback to average more than 7.69 yards per attempt. They’ve also generated a sack on 9.17 percent of dropbacks, which is an issue for Jones, who’s now been sacked 17 times in six games. In the end, the Giants have a 19.5-point team-implied total, and considering they’ve scored just 89 points through six games, that might be generous. You need to see something out of Jones before trusting him and knowing the pressure the Eagles bring (2nd in NFL) combined with Jones’ lack of success under pressure (51.2 QB Rating), he’s not someone to stream. The Eagles
Carson Wentz: It appears that Wentz has found a new way to score fantasy points on a consistent basis. Over his last five games, he’s rushed for at least 37 yards in three of them while scoring a rushing touchdown in four of them. Because of that, he’s now scored at least 17.4 fantasy points in each of his last four games. It’s a bit concerning that he’s still yet to throw for more than 270 yards in a game this year, but we’ll take fantasy points where we can get them. It is worth noting that the Giants have allowed a league-low 3.7 fantasy points on the ground to quarterbacks this year. They have allowed a 70.8 percent completion-rate this year, which ranks as the fourth-highest mark in football, which obviously bodes well for Wentz considering his lackluster 58.7 percent completion-rate this year. The Giants have had a better pass rush than most expected, as they’re near the middle of the league in all pressure-related stats, including their 6.88 percent sack-rate. They’ve faced just 33.7 pass attempts per game, as the lack of strength on offense has not pressured teams into throwing the ball a whole lot. Because of that, we’ve seen limited fantasy output, as just one quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) has finished as a top-15 option against them. In fact, since that Week 1 game against the Steelers, the Giants secondary has allowed just six passing touchdowns over five games. Knowing Wentz will be without Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert, it’s tough to say he’s a strong streaming option. Consider him just a mid-to-low-end QB2.
Devonta Freeman: His touches over the last three weeks are encouraging, as they’ve been heading in the right direction. He’s totaled 15, 19, and 19 touches over the last three games, which brings his weighted opportunity in the same range as someone like David Johnson, though the offense is certainly less potent with less scoring opportunities. The Eagles are not a matchup to be aggressive with, especially when you’re dealing with a dicey starting running back. Through six games, they’ve allowed just one team of running backs total more than 74 yards on the ground. Over the last four weeks, they’ve held the Bengals, 49ers, Steelers, and Ravens running backs to just 252 yards on 87 carries (2.90 yards per carry). Even going back to last year, the Eagles were not a team to run the ball on, as there were just three running backs who topped 66 yards on the ground. Freeman has averaged 3.0 targets per game over the last three weeks, so it’s tough to rely on his usage through the air, though that is something I’d consider a strength to his game. He is a starting running back who should be locked into 14-plus touches in this game, so you can start him as ana high-end RB3/flex option, but don’t expect him to singlehandedly carry your fantasy team to victory.
Boston Scott: With Miles Sanders on the shelf, this should be Scott’s backfield on Thursday night. That didn’t mean a whole lot in Week 1 when he tallied just 11 opportunities, though he did have to leave that game temporarily with an injury. He’s also failed to flash the magic he showed at the end of last year in his backup role. The offensive line is certainly an issue though, as Scott has totaled just 67 scoreless yards on his 21 carries this year. The good news is that Scott can be used quite heavily in the passing game, as he’s caught 31-of-36 targets for 252 yards over the last two years, and even saw six-plus targets in four straight games to end the 2019 season. This matchup might suit Scott’s skillset quite well. The Giants have allowed just 3.85 yards per carry on the year along with four touchdowns on 146 carries (one every 36.5 carries), so they’ve done a good job limiting production there. But again, the usage in the passing game is key, as the Giants have allowed a massive 78.3 PPR points through the air to running backs alone, which is the fourth-most in the league. That amounts to 13.1 points per game through the air, and there’s not a whole lot of concern on the roster to take away Scott’s targets. He should receive at least 15 touches in this game, and though his production on the ground may not be massive, his production through the air should carry him into RB2 territory.
Darius Slayton: He was iffy coming into last week’s game against Washington and though he played, he appeared to injure his ankle on the 23-yard touchdown catch, then got up extremely gingerly on his next reception, which was his last of the game midway through the third quarter. He wound up playing 40-of-48 snaps but it’s something to watch on a short week. He’s going to draw Darius Slay in coverage more often than not, and that’s a problem when Slayton is healthy, let alone when he’s dinged up. Slay has been stable in coverage for the Eagles, allowing just 10.7 yards per reception in his coverage, and he’s yet to allow a touchdown with his new team. The 7.85 yards per target the Eagles have allowed to receivers to this point ranks as the eighth-lowest mark in football, as tight ends have been a better position to target. There have been three top-30 receivers against the Eagles this year and all of them totaled at least nine targets, a number it’s hard to see Slayton hitting with his lower body injuries. He’s more of a low-end WR3 play this week who comes with a lower floor than most No. 1 receivers.
Golden Tate: Have we reached the end of fantasy relevance for Tate? He’s 32 years old, so he’s getting up there, but he’d been playing at a stable level coming into the 2020 season. But it appears we’ve hit a cliff, as he’s failed to record more than 47 yards in a game this year despite seeing five-plus targets in 4-of-5 games. The Eagles new slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman has been one of the better slot defenders in recent years but has struggled with his new team through six games, as he’s allowed 16-of-18 passing for 174 yards and a touchdown in his coverage. Two of the top-four performances against the Eagles this year have been to slot receivers, though it’s hard to say Tate is someone you should consider, as he’s had a couple plus matchups over the last month but never capitalized, including just 4/42/0 against the Cowboys. But with so many injuries, we could see an enlarged role for him in this Thursday night contest. He’s not a must-start by any means, but if you have a few players on bye week and are looking for a last-minute WR4-type replacement, Tate should be able to deliver an 8-point PPR floor.
DeSean Jackson: Adam Schefter reported last Sunday that the plan is for Jackson to return on Thursday night football, so that’s what we should be planning on as well. He’s much needed considering the losses of Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Jalen Reagor. Unfortunately, in the games that Jackson has played, he’s turned 20 targets into just 121 scoreless yards. His 1.11 PPR points per target ranks as the fourth worst in the league among receivers with 20-plus targets. Is a matchup with the Giants what the doctor ordered? There have been 13 wide receivers who’ve totaled 9.2 or more PPR points against them and finished as top-47 wide receivers, which is really what you’re looking for during the bye weeks – a high floor. The question is: Does James Bradberry shadow Fulgham? If he does, that would leave Jackson with former undrafted free agent Ryan Lewis in coverage. They could just choose to play sides, but Jackson would have a major advantage over the player who’s seen 67 career targets in coverage. There are question marks but knowing the success receivers have had against the Giants, Jackson should be considered a decent WR4 play.
Travis Fulgham: We heard Adam Caplan say on SiriusXM radio late last week that Fulgham is expected to retain the starting X receiver in the Eagles offense for the remainder of the season, which is a massive blow to Alshon Jeffery, as that’s the position he plays. It’s going to be tough to argue with the Eagles, as Fulgham has now caught a touchdown in three straight games against three of the toughest defenses in the league (49ers, Steelers, Ravens). During that stretch – when he started to get playing time – Fulgham has caught 18-of-26 targets for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Here are the QB Rating numbers that Wentz has when targeting his pass-catchers:
It’s fair to say that Wentz should keep throwing the ball Fulgham’s way, but is he set up for a disappointment in Week 7? The Giants have been shadowing opposing top receivers with James Bradberry and he’s done a great job with it. He’s held Terry McLaurin to 7/74/0 on 12 targets, Amari Cooper to 2/23/0 on four targets, Robert Woods to 6/35/0 on seven targets, and Allen Robinson to 3/33/0 on nine targets over the last five weeks. The hope is that they don’t shadow Fulgham with DeSean Jackson back, though that might be wishful thinking. He’s a WR3 considering the way he’s been playing but it’s not a great matchup for his ceiling.
Greg Ward: His target totals have been all over the place (7, 1, 11, 7, 5, 3), but knowing that Wentz is missing quite a few high-volume guys in the lineup, particularly Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders, who are targeted in the same area of the field as Ward. The Giants have Logan Ryan defending the slot and he’s been a liability to this point, allowing 15-of-18 passing for 161 yards and a touchdown in his coverage. Here are the slot receivers who’ve played the Giants, along with their PPR finishes for that week: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR7), CeeDee Lamb (WR15), Cooper Kupp (WR16), Isaiah Wright (WR50), Anthony Miller (zero), and Trent Taylor (WR96). As you can see, it’s been a mixed bag, though the slot receivers who are involved in their offense have produced. Ward should be involved more than he typically would be, so feel free to use him as a semi-high floor WR5 option in a pinch.
Evan Engram: Targets haven’t been a problem for Engram, though the Giants might start to make them one. He’s seen 35 through six weeks, which ranks seventh among tight ends. The problem is that they’ve netted just 177 scoreless yards, which ranks 21st among tight ends. He’s been so inefficient, it’s quite remarkable. His teammate, Kaden Smith, ran just four routes last week, but was targeted three times on them and caught every one of them, though they went for just 15 yards. Do they start utilizing him more? The Eagles have allowed a historically-bad 84.1 percent completion-rate to tight ends through six games. Even though those receptions have only gone for 10.2 yards a pop, they’ve allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. This actually plays right into Engram’s role, as he’s been targeted just 5.1 yards from the line of scrimmage, which ranks as the fifth-lowest mark in the game, behind only Isaiah Wright, Deebo Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Larry Fitzgerald. It seems they’re just letting his athleticism go to waste. He’s only topped 35 yards once this year and has now seen just five targets over the last two weeks. The Eagles have allowed at least one tight end touchdown in 4-of-6 games, so it’s tough to completely pass on him, but he’s not even guaranteed the floor that he once had. Consider him a high-end TE2 in a great matchup.
Richard Rodgers: After Zach Ertz left the game, we saw Rodgers play a season-high 57 snaps while running 20 routes. He’s been targeted 10 times on the season and has turned them into nine catches for 99 yards, so he’s been nearly twice as efficient as Ertz. It’s not apples to apples but we have to look at production on what each player’s been given. The Eagles have been TE-heavy under Doug Pederson and it’s not like they’re going to change their offense overnight. The 74 targets the tight ends have received accounts for a 31.4 percent target share, so Rodgers could be in for more targets than most expect. The Giants have not been a team to target with tight ends under Joe Judge, as they’ve still yet to allow a tight end more than four catches or 49 yards. Now, to be fair, they’ve yet to face a tight end who’s seen more than four targets. Based on all efficiency metrics, they are an average team against the position, allowing 7.06 yards per target. They also rank as the seventh-best team against tight ends in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Rodgers should be a decent streamer if you’re looking for a top-18 floor, though his ceiling may not be anything spectacular.