The Eagles simply need to win this game in order to lock up an unlikely playoff berth, while the Giants have been playing hard and will be looking to close this season strong. There is no reason to expect anything but “normal play” from both sides here.
The Matchup ::
- The Giants quietly rank eighth in DVOA against the run on defense, while ranking 30th against the pass; New York boosts aDOT by 7.7%, catch rate by 5.5%, and YAC/r by 3.2%; the Giants have allowed eight wide receivers to top 100 yards against them this season (while six scored one or more touchdowns to go with their 100-yard effort)
- The Giants have allowed another four pass catchers to go for 64+ yards and two touchdowns
- Zach Ertz was one of these players, going 9-91-2 when these teams met in Week 14
- Before missing a large chunk of the first half with a rib injury last week and then playing through obvious pain the rest of the way, Ertz had seen 10 or more targets in five of six games, while topping 90 yards four times in that stretch and hitting at least nine receptions four times
- With Ertz banged up last week, Dallas Goedert saw 12 targets and went 9-91-1
- Greg Ward, Dallas Goedert, and Zach Ertz have combined for 76 targets across the Eagles’ last three games; Josh Perkins, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Robert Davis have combined for 15 targets in this stretch
- Darius Slayton played only 20 of 70 snaps last week for the Giants, and because the fantasy news community is somewhat lazy, most outlets seem confused by this and are treating it as though Slayton is simply losing his role now that Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are both healthy (because that would explain Cody Latimer playing 41 snaps last week)
- Darius Slayton sustained a knee injury last Sunday and spent much of the game on the sidelines due to that issue; before that, Slayton had played all but 33 snaps across his previous three games, seeing target counts of 9 // 8 // 3
- Philly has knocked 4.4% off the league-average catch rate this season, but has boosted aDOT by 7.7%
- Tate and Shepard have interchangeable aDOTs of 9.4 and 9.5, respectively
- Slayton has the 13th deepest aDOT in the league at 14.2
- Daniel Jones had his third career game last week of 4+ touchdown passes, one week after notching his sixth career game of one touchdown pass
- Jones has only two games that have finished in between those two marks
- Saquon Barkley has 26+ touches in back-to-back games after failing to go for 26+ in all but one other game this year
- The Eagles have faced the fourth fewest rush attempts in the league this year
- In two games against the Eagles last year, Saquon was held to only 13 carries each time
- He topped 100 yards on the ground in each of those games
The Game ::
The Eagles need to win this game in order to secure a playoff spot, but with this game on the road (and with this injury-wrecked version of the Eagles not separated from the Giants by all that much on the field), it wouldn’t be a surprise if this game stays close — same as the Week 14 game in which the Giants held a 17-3 lead at halftime and the Eagles needed overtime in order to conquer Eli Manning. With Daniel Jones under center for New York, this matchup gets even “tougher.”
More than likely, this game will open somewhat slowly, as the Eagles poke and prod to see where they can best exploit their division rival — but given how much better the Giants have been this year at stopping the run than the pass, volume should eventually begin tilting that direction for Philly, and we should once again see volume pile up on the remaining Philly pass catchers.
This group of “remaining Philly pass catchers” took a further hit last week when Zach Ertz missed a chunk of the first half with a rib injury before appearing to be in pain the rest of the way (while turning in a crushingly ineffective outing). Ertz has missed practice so far this week, but given the magnitude of this game (and the fact that rib injuries are generally an issue of pain management), we should expect him to be on the field on Sunday, while his effectiveness/usage will be a serious question mark. While the ceiling is still there any time Ertz is on the field, he should be considered more risky this week than his name and typical role would suggest.
Philly continued to ignore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Robert Davis last week while pouring volume into the laps of Dallas Goedert (12 targets), Miles Sanders (20 carries, six targets), Boston Scott (three carries, six targets), and Greg Ward (five targets). If hoping to target these guys this week, it would be optimal for Ertz to play, as an inactive Ertz would raise ownership across the board here, while expectations may not be too different on these guys even if Ertz is out there.
Goedert and Ward should be the “downfield” focal points for this group (with Goedert primarily working the short areas of the field and Ward working the short/intermediate) — and while Ward saw only five looks a week ago, we should keep in mind A) his nine targets in Week 15, and B) his Week 16 opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, who have faced the seventh fewest wide receiver targets in the league. The Giants rank middle of the pack in wide receiver targets faced and are boosting catch rate, aDOT, and YAC/r, while allowing the fourth most yards per pass attempt in the league, the third most wide receiver yards, and the second most wide receiver touchdowns.
The backfield is a bit more convoluted, as Jordan Howard is set to return this week — and while Doug Pederson has said he plans to continue riding the hot hand with Miles Sanders (and has said that Scott has earned the right to remain involved), prices have risen for these two based off their roles over the last few weeks, while Howard is all but guaranteed to see at least a handful of touches. Pederson’s comments also leave the door open for Howard’s role to expand if he happens to prove to have the “hot hand” this week. Sanders’ risk factor should be bumped up a bit as a “bet on talent-driven ceiling (and hope for role to remain the same)” piece, while Scott is merely a dart throw if Howard gets cleared.
The Giants will likely allow the Eagles to dictate the way this game plays out — with some level of contentment to run Saquon into the brick wall of the Eagles’ front until scoring takes off — and once scoring does begin to track upward, there is the added complication of the short-area roles carried by Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Kaden Smith — roles that require either heavy volume or busted plays for true, slate-breaking upside. Shepard has reached that level once this year, against the early-season Bucs. Tate has come close to that level twice this year: on a long play against the Patriots, and on a long play against the Jets. Smith has approached that level once, on only 35 yards last week in a two-touchdown game. None of these guys (from Saquon down) can be completely wiped off the list, but all are somewhat speculative and are best used as part of Game Environment bets instead of as one-off pieces; one-off bets on these guys is little more than hoping to get lucky.
The one place where a non-game-environment bet makes sense on paper for the Giants is Darius Slayton (who not only can score from anywhere on the field, but who also has three multi-touchdown games — to go with two games of 120+ yards), against a Philly defense that knocks nearly 5% off the league-average catch rate and is right around the league average in YAC/r allowed, but that boosts aDOT by over 7%. Unfortunately, the knee issue that sidelined Slayton for a large chunk of last week’s game has limited him in practice this week, making him even more boom/bust than his skill set already causes him to be.
It’s likeliest that the value provided by the Eagles this week comes more in the form of “volume on cheap pieces” than in the form of actual elite production — which could make it difficult for the underdog, higher-priced, more spread-the-wealth Giants to provide much beyond Floor Value themselves (again: making this team better suited to game stacks than to one-off plays), but if going here, your best bet is to choose a player on whom you expect volume to concentrate the most, or to choose a player you think can hit a couple big plays, and to see what happens from there.
JM’s Interpretation ::
The Eagles have been a somewhat central focus across my builds over the last few weeks, as they have been one of the few underpriced offenses available at this point in the year, and fairly elite price-considered production has been here for the taking in one spot or another week in and week out. In a game the Eagles need to win, against the weak defense of the Giants, I expect to once again have interest — with Goedert and Ward my likeliest focal points, and with a bit of hedge exposure potentially thrown around from there. So far, it’s been my hedge exposure on the Eagles that has paid off the most handsomely (which obviously nudges me to continue expanding beyond the guys who stand out the most on paper), but Ward and Goedert definitely stand out the most this week.
On the other side of this game, I don’t expect to have dedicated exposure to the Giants, but I won’t be surprised to end up with some Game Environment bets here. One thing I was kicking myself over last week was the fact that I mentioned (about five or six times) that the best way to gain an edge through the Giants/Redskins game was by betting on explosive pieces — with Saquon, Slayton, and McLaurin highlighted each time; and yet, it wasn’t until Saturday night that I even started considering Daniel Jones as part of that “explosive pieces” group, and I didn’t end up pulling the trigger on Jones on any rosters. Jones has shown all year that he has a wide range of outcomes, but part of that range has been three games already of four or more touchdowns; and if you end up building a roster or two around this Game Environment, he’s also a guy to keep in mind.