GAME OVERVIEW ::
BY HILOW >>
How Denver Will Try to Win:
This game boasts the lowest total on the slate, and a big part of that is because of how dreadful Denver was on offense last season. Drew Lock isn’t very good at football. He ranked dead last against the blitz and was only average when not pressured. Teddy Bridgewater has supplanted Lock as the starter which offers hope, but Bridgewater is far from a world-beater. His ability to not turn the ball over is where Bridgewater should be a substantial upgrade from Lock. Vic Fangio is a defensive-minded coach, who wants to win with a conservative offense (that doesn’t make mistakes) and a strong defense. Fangio wants to not lose the game rather than win it, which isn’t an appealing setup for fantasy.
Denver’s WR room has talent, especially their top three options of Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler, but only the very best WRs (think Larry Fitzgerald or Allen Robinson) can consistently overcome poor QB play. While Bridgewater is an upgrade, he is also likely to be conservative, and a change at QB makes it difficult to know how the target share will be distributed. Expect Sutton and Jeudy to work as a 1A/1B tandem this season, unless one of them emerges as a clear star. It wouldn’t be shocking to see either player lead the team in Week 1 targets. Hamler is an exciting player, but until we see a more consistent role, he is hard to project for more than three to five low upside targets. Behind the top three WRs, Tim Patrick is still around and is likely to rotate in enough to cost the starters a little value, without providing any standalone value himself. Noah Fant is a talented, emerging TE, but poor QB play is also an issue. Coach speak out of camp has been that they want to get Fant involved in creative ways; we will see if that comes to fruition. It’s possible Bridgewater’s conservative style leads to more targets for Fant as a safety blanket, but that’s mostly speculation. Expect Fant to see four to seven moderate upside looks, with potential for more.
Denver’s backfield is shaping up to be a true timeshare between Williams and Melvin Gordon. Playing behind an O-line that should be a similar unit to last year, it would be easy to get excited about either player, if the other one didn’t exist. In the current scenario, we have what appears to be a 50/50 split that will crush both players’ value. Either one could emerge as a “hot hand” week to week, or eventually, wrestle control of the backfield away from the other guy, but as of now, it looks to be a mind-numbing situation for fantasy.
How New York Will Try to Win:
The Giants desperately needed to improve their offensive line, and they did a terrible job. They lost their only good lineman in Kevin Zeitler, a year after ranking dead last in essentially every pass blocking metric. New York’s O-line doesn’t boast a single player that has even been above average in the NFL. It’s made up of players who might develop and guys who we already know probably won’t. This is easily a bottom three O-line. Daniel Jones has weapons, but he is notorious for holding onto the ball and might lead the league in sacks behind this O-line. Jason Garret is running the offense, and he has looked clueless more than once in his career. Expect to see an offense that tries to be aggressive but ends up finding itself taking a lot of sacks.
The Giants have talent at WR. Kenny Golladay is the new alpha, and his supporting cast of Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and rookie Kadarius Toney are above average. The problem is they’ve essentially all been hurt in camp, and while we expect everyone to be ready for Week 1, we don’t know for sure how they’ll be used. It’s fair to assume Golladay will function as the alpha, soaking up eight to ten intermediate/deep looks a game. Shepard will operate out of the slot seeing five to eight low upside looks, with the rest of the cast mixing in behind the top two. Engram will also command targets (assuming health) after being heavily targeted and highly inefficient last year. Eventually, do we have to accept maybe Engram is simply a bust? Engram is currently iffy to suit up Week 1, and even if he does, we should expect a significant drop in target volume from last year with increased competition.
New York’s running game starts and ends with Saquon Barkley. Quon was a phenom when he entered the league but is coming off a significant injury and running behind a putrid O-line. Jason Garret is the type of OC that tries to “keep everyone happy” by getting everyone their “touches”, rather than focusing on attacking a defense repeatedly where it’s weak. Expect Quon (assuming health) to get his work, even if it’s ineffective.
Most Likely Game Flow:
This game has the lowest total on the slate at 42.5, with Denver installed as 2.5 road favorites. We should expect an ugly, mistake-filled game, where both offenses struggle. Although Denver is the favorite, and the better team, this is the type of spot between two bad teams where anything could happen. The most likely game flow is a sloppy affair, where Denver’s conservative QB makes fewer mistakes than New York’s awful O-line, giving Denver a low-scoring victory.
We always want to give each game its due: just because a game has a low total, doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Finding a big score in a low total game usually means you found a big score at low ownership. However, sometimes games just don’t stack up well for offensive production. This appears to be one of those spots.
The Giants offense has talented skill position players, but the offensive line doesn’t even have a lone bright spot. You could target Golladay as a possible alpha WR, priced at only $5,600, but you’re also taking a big risk on a guy that hasn’t had much practice time, on a new team, in a new scheme. The match-up isn’t favorable, as Denver boasts a top 10 pass rush which will have Daniel Jones struggling to find time for a downfield throw all day. In the slot, Shep is going to get his targets, but they will be of the low upside variety and $5,100 is a lot to pay for a floor piece. Engram might not be ready for Week 1, and if ready, he will probably be less than 100%. He also just might not be very good at football. Slayton and Toney are wishful options at best, even at their cheap price points. I’m content to ignore the Giants passing attack in a game where I think the offense can’t protect the QB.
Quon looks like he will play Week 1 and is New York’s ground game. However, he is still priced like an elite option at $7,800, the sixth most expensive RB on the slate. Rostering him feels like paying for his ceiling, while ignoring the terrible O-line, bad match-up, and injury concerns. I’ll target other options in Week 1 and take a wait-and-see approach with Quon.
Denver’s offense has more hope, but with one of the lowest implied totals on the slate, it’s tough to get overly excited. Teddy Bridgewater is a game manager, and managing the game is all Vic Fangio wants out of his QB. Denver isn’t going to be aggressive unless they must be, and it’s unlikely New York will put up enough points to force Denver to air it out. Sutton, Jeudy, and Hammler all have big-play upside, but knowing how the targets will shake out between them is taking a best guess. The target leader might shift week to week, and all of them could see low volume in a game where Denver’s defense can control the outcome. If forced to pick, I’d take a shot on Jeudy who is priced very reasonably at only $4,800. Fant is an emerging TE with upside, but the average matchup, and strong chance that Denver wins this game on defense, limits his upside. There are cheaper, more appealing options than Fant on this slate.
Denver’s RBs will face a New York front that is strong against the run and is searching for a pass rush. Gordon is priced fairly at $5,300 and has touchdown upside, but you’ll likely need those touchdowns for him to pay off. Williams is a talented player, who I think eventually takes over this backfield (think Cam Akers last season), but in Week 1 is likely to see a frustrating snap split with Gordon. However, Williams is priced at the stone min $4,000 on DK and that incredibly generous pricing puts him on the radar. He could emerge as the “hot hand” or simply be the RB who gets the TDs. We are also all assuming a 50/50 snap split between Williams and Gordon, but maybe Williams ends up with the lion’s share of the work. It’s hard to know exactly how the touch distribution will shake out, and if you like “embrace the variance” plays, Williams fits the bill this week.
Ultimately, the best DFS play from this game is likely to be the Broncos defense. While not cheap ($3,300), they have a real chance to be the top-scoring defense on the slate.