After a much-anticipated opening weekend of the NFL season, it is time for Monday Night Football. Whether your lineup exceeded expectations or failed to perform, there is one more night for your team to shine.
Monday Night Football Preview
Giants at Steelers (-6) | Over/Under 45.5
For this opening main event, Vegas has Pittsburgh as nearly a touchdown favorite in this contest. It is not surprising why, as the Steelers are the superior team in this matchup. It will be interesting to see if the Giants will be able to keep it close and cover the spread or fall behind early and never catch back up. This game is a great single bet or would make a nice addition to any parley. For the Over/Under, 45.5 points is one of the higher lines this week currently. Taking the under seems like a safer bet as it should be a blowout and both teams may be running out the clock by halftime.
At the quarterback position, we have two players that would normally be considered streaming options under the right matchup circumstances. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Daniel Jones had an ADP in the teens (QB14 and 15 respectively) and will be looked upon to cash in big on any soft secondaries they face in 2020. But only one of these quarterbacks will be a reliable bet in Week 1.
Ben Roethlisberger will get a great opportunity to produce big fantasy numbers in this MNF opener. He will be facing a Giants defense that was the third-worst against quarterbacks in 2019, giving up nearly 21 points per game to opposing quarterbacks (depending on scoring format). While New York did make some additions to their defense this offseason (James Bradberry and Blake Martinez free agency signings), they will still be a below-average defense at best in 2020; not to mention losing their 2019 first-round pick in DeAndre Baker due to his role in an alleged armed robbery. Roethlisberger should be able to exploit the Giants defense in this matchup, especially when you consider he will also have a healthy supporting cast for the first time in a long time. Be confident in Roethlisberger as both a streaming option and a DFS play.
The same can not be said for the signal-caller on the other sideline. Jones had a fine rookie season, throwing for 3027 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions on a 61.9% completion percentage in 13 games. He showed some flashes of potential brilliance while also, as expected, making plays like a rookie quarterback. Jones will look to put those plays behind him and build a solid sophomore campaign, but this game may not be the best place to start. He will be facing the Steelers defense, which ranked as the 4th best against opposing quarterbacks in 2019 and is loaded with talent. New York’s subpar offensive line will have a tough time trying to subdue 2019 first-team All-Pros T.J. Watt and Cameron Hayward, putting constant pressure on Jones. While Jones will have his shining moments in 2020, this game will not be one; leave him on your bench or waiver wire this week.
Both the Steelers and Giants have workhorse backs that are looking to reclaim their elite fantasy status. Saquon Barkley and James Conner were both first-round draft picks in 2019 fantasy drafts but both fell flat throughout the year. Barkley, a top-three pick in many drafts, finished as the RB10 in PPR leagues while Conner fell all the way to RB35. Both backs suffered injuries that tarnished their seasons but should bounce back on Monday night.
Conner is the better play based on the matchup (the Giants were the 19th ranked defense against fantasy running backs in 2019) but both he and Barkley are good options for your lineup. None of their backfield mates, whether that be Dion Lewis or Benny Snell Jr., are worth starting in any format and are only worth keeping an eye on if an injury occurs.
Pittsburgh will look to their youth out wide to carry their passing attack. Guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington are all under 24 years old but will be the starters Monday night that Roethlisberger will look to target. They will look to attack a defense that was the fifth-worst against fantasy wide receivers (depending on scoring formats) and should have all they need to put up big fantasy numbers. Johnson is the only questionable start for the Steelers as he missed some practice time this week with a foot issue but signs are pointing to him being active Monday night. If he is active, Johnson, along with Smith-Schuster and Washington would all be great starts and solid DFS options in any MNF contests.
New York will also have some youth going for them at the wide receiver position but may miss a key veteran on Monday night. Their most targeted receiver last year Golden Tate was limited in practice this week with a hamstring issue and is looking like he may be out for this game versus Pittsburgh. If Tate does miss this contest, the Giants receiving corps will have to look to Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard to make up his production against a strong Steelers secondary. Slayton will be especially intriguing as he flashed in Weeks 10 and 14 last season but did not have consistent fantasy success. This matchup will not be one many will look to start Giants wide receivers and I will have to agree with the consensus. Leave Slayton, Shepard and Tate on your bench or waiver wire this week.
For tight ends, the Giants finally have the advantage.
Evan Engram, when healthy, is an elite tight end and is capable of producing big fantasy numbers. Engram missed time last season with a foot sprain and will try to have a healthy 2020 campaign. He will have a great chance as the Steelers were the 12th best defense against fantasy tight ends last year but were tied for fourth-most touchdowns allowed to opposing tight ends with eight. Engram is especially good as an endzone target and can capitalize if New York is able to put him in a position to score. Engram will be a solid play this week and could help your team seal a victory on Monday night.
For Pittsburgh, they will be sending out both a team veteran and new addition at tight end. Eric Ebron signed with the Steelers this offseason for a two year $12 million contract to make them his third team in four seasons. It is unclear what kind of role he will have in the offense, as Pittsburgh did make a financial commitment to him, but Roethlisberger has not been much of a tight end targeter since the departure of Heath Miller. Since 2016, the Steelers have only had one tight end that was targeted more than 70 times and was higher than fourth on the team in total targets. That was Vance McDonald in 2018, who Ebron will be competing with for snaps and targets in 2020. McDonald has not been able to make an impact as a member of the Steelers, at least from a fantasy perspective, but could benefit from some competition and a healthy Roethlisberger. In this game, however, both players should stay on your bench or waiver wire this week until their roles are more defined.
In this matchup, look for the Steelers to dominate quick and early. The Giants are still a rebuilding team and will certainly take their lumps in this game. Unless Jones comes out firing and is able to evade the pressure he is sure to face, this game does not seem like it will be close. I am calling for a 31-10 score going to Pittsburgh.
Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.