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Giants vs. 49ers: Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice (Week 3)

Giants vs. 49ers: Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice (Week 3)

Every week, I’ll be writing a comprehensive primer on every NFL matchup and all of the relevant players, matchups, pace and playcalling notes, and injuries. It covers everything you need to know when setting your lineups. But since that article is massive and requires a full pot of coffee, we’re also going to offer these more focused matchup overviews to help you prepare for Thursday Night Football: Giants vs. 49ers.

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Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice

New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers

Pace and playcalling notes

  • The Giants dialed up the pace in Week 2 (eighth in neutral pace) despite remaining run-heavy (19th in neutral passing rate). With Saquon Barkley sidelined in Week 2 and facing a pass funnel defense like the 49ers, I expect Brian Daboll to ramp up the passing volume.
  • After two games, the 49ers have settled back into old habits. They rank 31st in neutral pace and 22nd in neutral passing rate. Slow and CMC-centric is the way of Kyle Shanahan.

Quarterbacks

Daniel Jones: Jones had a monster Week 2 bounce-back game. He was second in passing grade, fifth in yards per attempt, and tenth in adjusted completion rate. How did he go from looking totally lost to a standout performer last week? Clean pockets. That’s it. Dallas crushed his offensive line in Week 1 as they pressured Jones on an insane 71% of his dropbacks. In Week 2, he was only pressured on 31.1% (tenth-lowest) of his dropbacks, and Jones responded with a huge game. The 49ers will bring the heat in Week 3. They rank seventh-best in pressure rate despite blitzing at the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL. San Francisco’s zone-heavy pass defense (70-73% zone) has been tough on opposing quarterbacks. Through two weeks, they have held passing attacks to the sixth-lowest yards per attempt, fifth-lowest passer rating, and the sixth-lowest adjusted completion rate. Jones is a QB2 who must run to compensate for his possible passing shortcomings this week against this defense. Week 3 Positional Value: mid-QB2

Brock Purdy: Purdy leads the 2-0 49ers into their home opener in Week 3. Purdy might have the QB wins, but his play on the field has been run-of-the-mill. Yes, he’s ranked fifth in yards per attempt and seventh in fantasy points per dropback, but he’s also 18th in passing grade, 16th in adjusted completion rate, and one of only five quarterbacks without a big-time throw after two games. Purday will face a healthy dose of man coverage this week against the Giants. Per Fantasy Points Data, the Giants have defended the 11th-most dropbacks in man coverage this season. In Week 1, their corners operated in man on 40-52% of their snaps. Last year against man coverage, Purdy ranked fifth in passer rating and first in fantasy points per dropback, but he was also 29th in yards per attempt and 22nd in adjusted completion rate against man coverage. The noise in those numbers comes from his ability to protect the ball and his high passing touchdown rate against man coverage. Purdy had the ninth-fewest dropbacks against man last year, but he ranked 18th in passing touchdowns against man. Week 3 Positional Value: low ceiling QB2

Running Backs

Matt Breida: Breida likely gets the starting nod this week with Saquon Barkley injured. He could lose some work to Gary Brightwell, so don’t look at Breida as a locked-in workhorse in the Barkley mold. This is a brutal matchup for Breida, who will work behind an offensive line that’s 22nd in yards before contact per attempt. The 49ers have given up the fourth-lowest missed tackles allowed per attempt, the third-fewest missed tackles, and the seventh-lowest yards after contact per attempt. Breida is not a bet I want to make on talent overcoming a rough situation. He has never crested 3.0 yards after contact per attempt in his career, and his breakaway run rate has dropped in each of the last three seasons. Week 3 Positional Value: RB3

Christian McCaffrey: Well, so much for lightening McCaffrey’s load this season. McCaffrey has played at least 85% of the snaps in each game, with 100% of the snaps in Week 2. He’s averaged 24 touches and 152 total yards so far, putting an exclamation point on his status as the best running back in the NFL. McCaffrey has been in vintage form so far, ranking 13th in missed tackles forced per attempt and third in yards after contact per attempt. He’s having a ball running behind an offensive line that ranks ninth-best in yards before contact per attempt. McCaffrey should have no problems posting another strong outing against a run defense that’s 17th in stuff rate, 14th in missed tackles allowed per attempt, and 15th in yards after contact per attempt allowed. Week 3 Positional Value: Top Shelf RB1

Wide Receivers

Darius Slayton: Slayton leads the wide receiver room with a 70% route per team dropback rate. He has seen a 14.9% target share and 34% air yard share, producing 1.22 yards per route run (YPRR). Last season, Slayton ranked fifth on the team in target share and seventh in targets per route run (TPRR) against zone coverage. Slayton will run about 70% of his snaps against Charvarius Ward (64.7% catch rate, 59.4 passer rating) and Deommodore Lenoir (75% catch rate, 72.0 passer rating). Week 3 Positional Value: WR5/6

Parris Campbell: Campbell has a 69% route participation as the team’s starting slot receiver (80% slot). He’s drawn a 14.9% target share and a 7.6% air yard share. His 3.6 aDOT hasn’t helped him manufacture much after two weeks, with only 0.37 YPRR. Last season, among 83 qualifying wide receivers, Campbell ranked 65th in receiving grade and 74th in YPRR against zone coverage. Campbell will see Isaiah Oliver (88.9% catch rate and 52.1 passer rating) in coverage for most of the game. Week 3 Positional Value: WR6

Isaiah Hodgins: Hodgins has an 11.9% target share and 16.0% air yard share as Jones’ preferred end zone target. Hodgins leads the team with two end-zone targets (one score). Last year, he ranked 21st in receiving grade and 30th in YPRR against zone coverage (minimum 13 zone targets). If you’re looking at flexing any Giant wide receiver, it should be Hodgins. He’s the apple of Jones’ eye in scoring position and the best zone weapon they have outside of Darren Waller. Hodgins will run about 90% of his routes against Ward and Lenoir. Week 3 Positional Value: WR5

2022 SF vs. man coverage

Player Target % TPRR YPRR % of team receiving yards
Brandon Aiyuk 29 30 2.39 28.4
Deebo Samuel 16.3 16 1.41 14.2
George Kittle 14.5 16 1.47 16.5

Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk ranks second on the team with a 25.9% target share while ranking first with a 42.3% air yard share. Among 51 qualifying wide receivers, he’s second in receiving grade and sixth in YPRR. Aiyuk is the 49ers’ go-to weapon against man coverage, leading the team in every worthwhile category against the coverage type. Last season, among 80 qualifying wide receivers, Aiyuk ranked 17th in target share and 20th in YPRR against man coverage. Look for Purdy to feed him this week. Aiyuk will run about 75% of his routes against Adoree’ Jackson (69.2% catch rate and 99.5 passer rating) and Deonte Banks (50% catch rate and 69.3 passer rating). Week 3 Positional Value: WR2

**Update: Brandon Aiyuk is not expected to play in Week 3. Expect Purdy to lean on George Kittle more in the passing game.**

Deebo Samuel: Samuel is the team’s zone coverage attack plan, so he should take a step back this week with Aiyuk as the leading receiving option. Last year, Samuel had a 16.3% target share, 16% TPRR, and 1.41 YPRR against man coverage. He ranked third amongst the big three receiving weapons (Samuel, Kittle, & Aiyuk) in percentage of team receiving yards against man coverage. Samuel will run about 57% of his routes against Jackson and Banks. Week 3 Positional Value: WR3

Tight Ends

Darren Waller: Waller looked healthy in Week 2. He ranked fifth in route run per team dropback rate (80%) among tight ends. He was second in target volume (tied with Mark Andrews), behind only Travis Kelce. Waller was also fourth among tight ends in percentage of the team’s receiving yardage in Week 2. Waller had a 21.6% target share and a 20% air yard share. Over the last three years, Waller has ranked 16th, tenth, and sixth in receiving grade against zone coverage. The 49ers were tough against tight ends last season, allowing the 11th-fewest receiving yards, sixth-lowest yards per reception, and eighth-fewest touchdowns. Week 3 Positional Value: Top-Five TE

George Kittle: Kittle has a 16.7% target share, a 10.8% air yard share, and 1.07 YPRR after two games. He’s third on the team with a 15.8% first-read share. Kittle took a backseat last season against man coverage, so temper your expectations in Week 3. The matchup does lend itself for him to possibly be the second read this week for Purdy over Samuel, though. Last season, New York allowed the ninth-most receiving yards and 11th-most fantasy points to tight ends. Week 3 Positional Value: Top-12 TE option

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*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*

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