– Thursday Night Football Preview –
New York Giants at New England Patriots
Spread: Patriots -16.5 | Over/Under 42
The NFL season is entering Week 6 and that means it’s time for a non-conference matchup on Thursday night. I won’t be diving specifically into the DraftKings Showdown slate, but rather focusing on previewing the game for all fantasy football purposes. But for those still interested in the DraftKings Showdown contests, as always make sure you check out some general strategy for Showdown contests in my article from Week 1. For this piece, I will focus on providing the facts behind your start and sit decisions in this particular matchup between the Giants and Patriots. Hopefully, this one will be as thrilling as last week’s affair.
Things are not looking great for the rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Not only is he facing the league’s top defense that has not allowed a passing touchdown yet this season but he is going to be without some of his top weapons. There’s a strong chance that Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Wayne Gallman, and Evan Engram all miss Thursday night’s contest. That would leave his top skill players as rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton, veteran Golden Tate, and undrafted running back Jon Hilliman. Not ideal for the rookie on a short week. For Jones to make any significant impact for fantasy purposes he is going to have to make plays with his legs to extend plays. The Patriots did allow 26 rushing yards and rushing touchdown to Josh Allen in Week 4.
As for Tom Brady, it looks like it’s another day at the office for him. The Giants have an awful secondary that is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to the quarterback position and third-most to the receiver position. He should continue to be productive on Thursday night at home. Brady has averaged three passing touchdowns and right around 300 yards passing in his last three regular-season home starts. In his last Thursday night game, Brady threw over 340 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Brady is an obvious start in all fantasy formats, but I do think Jones’ rushing does offer him a little bit more upside than many would initially think. Jones has come back down after his 38-point performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but is 11.38 fantasy points last week do not tell the whole story. His receivers dropped a lot of passes on him and he misses a couple throws that could have resulted in very big plays. Don’t play Jones in your seasonal leagues (unless you have him in a two-quarterback league like me), but for DFS I think he could pleasantly surprise. Again all it takes is a few rushing plays and a long touchdown and he can benefit. Via Next Gen Stats, Jones is the number one quarterback in the aggressiveness rating. That statistic is the amount of passing attempts a quarterback makes that are into tight coverage. 27.5% of his passes are deemed with a defender within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the time of completion or incompletion.
The Giants are trotting out Hilliman and Elijhaa Penny as their two running backs if Gallman and Barkley are officially ruled out. Hilliman rushed for just 20 yards on nine carries and had one catch for four yards last week. Penny was actually more productive on yards per rush totaling 15 rushing yards on three carries. Now it’s not that a running back cannot put up numbers versus the Patriots as they did allow over 100 rushing yards to Frank Gore in Week 4. However, Hilliman is a mere volume play and someone cheap to target in DFS lineups.
For the New England Patriots, the running backs that you can start with confidence include both James White and Sony Michel. Michel is coming off his best game of the season and for the first time, he was used in the passing game. Michel ran just as many routes as White in Week 5. The Giants are also coming off a game where they were absolutely gashed on the ground allowing over 180 rushing yards to running backs on the Vikings.
White is also in play here because he is consistently seeing targets with the Patriots’ wide receivers banged up. White has scored at least 11 fantasy points in all four games that he has been active this season and has seen at least seven targets in three of his four contests played. From a DFS perspective, most people will lean towards Michel with the Patriots being at home with one of the highest implied team totals on the week. However, you can also add White into that very same lineup because it’s been shown that both of these guys can produce in the same game. In an eerily similar Thursday night game last season, a banged Colts team visited Gillette Stadium in early October. In that game, Michel rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown. White had ten receptions for 77 receiving yards and a touchdown on 14 targets.
Of all the receivers on the Patriots, this game sets up best for Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman. The New York Giants allow the third-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position so far this season. Specifically they have been going back in forth giving up huge chunk fantasy days to both slot receivers and non-slot receivers. Last week it was Adam Thielen catching two touchdowns from the slot, while in Week 3 Mike Evans did the majority of his damage from the outside to score 40-plus fantasy points. Both are top-24 options for Week 6 at the wide receiver position. The sneaky play for DFS and deeper formats is rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers. Phillip Dorsett II has a hamstring injury and could miss the Thursday night game. Meyers was on the field for 36 of a possible 78 snaps on offense after Dorsett left the game. Meyers played in 45% of the snaps from the slot in Week 5 and has played 72.7% of his total snaps from the slot. With the Giants allowing five touchdowns from the slot so far this season, Meyers could be a sneaky DFS play that finds the end zone.
For the Giants, Golden Tate looks to be the guy most likely to lead the team in targets if everybody that is questionable misses the game. Tate was in the slot for over 90% of the snaps in Week 5, so he should escape any type of Stephon Gilmore coverage. Two slot receivers that have faced the Patriots in Cole Beasley and JuJu Smith-Schuster both had at least 75 yards receiving. The other Giants’ receiver worth mentioning is Slayton. However, Slayton is most likely going to be locked down on the outside by Gilmore making him nothing less than a contrarian DFS play. One thing to note about Slayton is that over the last three weeks with Jones at quarterback he has to lead the team in yards/route run, and his average depth of target is 17.3, which is the highest of any player with at least 12 targets.
This position could not be grosser or harder to decipher for both these teams. If Engram misses the game, Rhett Ellison would continue to get the majority of looks with another tight end being active. The other tight ends for the Giants include undrafted Garrett Dickerson and sixth-rounder Kaden Smith. The latter two are better pass-catching backs than Ellison so if one of them is active they are worth rostering at their dirt-cheap price in DFS, for what it opens up for the rest of your lineup.
New England chose to not create a roster spot for Benjamin Watson, so that leaves Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse as the two primary options. The matchup is not good with the Giants allowing the tenth-fewest fantasy points to the position. In games where both players have played LaCosse has been the tight end with the more routes run (63 vs 29) and total targets in the passing game (6 vs 2). Play LaCosse over Izzo in DFS.
Maybe this is a hot take, but you should probably start the Patriots defense. They have scored double-digit fantasy points in every single game this season. Interestingly enough as well since Jones took over at quarterback the Giants have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing defenses for three straight weeks. I would not play the New York defense. The only productive outing they have had was against the Washington Redskins. Every other week they have scored less than eight fantasy points.
The Patriots are at home facing a rookie quarterback missing some of his top weapons on offense. I am always all about thinking about going contrarian, but not in this game. Final score 35-17, Patriots over Giants on Thursday night!