REDSKINS // GIANTS OVERVIEW
This game immediately jumps out as one of the least appealing options on the main slate, between a 1-6 Giants team that ranks 27th in points per game and a ball-control, 4-2 Redskins team that ranks 25th in points per game. Washington plays at the eighth slowest pace of play in the league and ranks second in time of possession, and with the Giants ranking 24th in drive success rate allowed on defense, it will be difficult for them to flip the script this week. Washington has grinded out these slow-paced wins riding a short passing attack and a ground-and-pound approach that has them ranked 28th in pass play rate. The Giants rank 17th in yards allowed per carry, and they just traded their best run defender in Damon “Snacks” Harrison to the Lions. Only three teams have allowed fewer opponent plays per game than Washington, which has enabled them to give up the fifth fewest yards per game and the seventh fewest points per game. Compared to the other games on this slate, this one is a snoozer.
Alex Smith has yet to top 300 passing yards in a game this year, and he has thrown for 220 or fewer yards in three of six games. No player on this team has a 100-yard receiving game.
Yardage “highs” this year have looked like this :: Jordan Reed — 65 yards // Josh Doctson — 42 yards // Maurice Harris — 47 yards // Paul Richardson — 63 yards // Vernon Davis — 70 yards. (Jamison Crowder is expected to miss one more week. He has a yardage high of 55 yards.)
To put all this another way: this offense flows almost entirely through the backfield, as Chris Thompson is the only player on this team to top 70 receiving yards in a game, while Adrian Peterson has been the only other yardage producer, with rushing totals on the year of 96 // 20 // 120 // 6 // 97 // 99. Peterson has maxed out at three targets in a game, and outside of three fluky-long plays (52 yards vs Arizona in Week 1 // 21 yards vs Indy in Week 2 // 24 yards vs New Orleans in Week 4), he has very little upside through the air — but he should push for 100 yards on the ground in this spot, and he has a respectable six carries inside the five-yard-line this year (only five players have more). Only five teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns to running backs than the Giants.
Thompson is expected to play this week, entering with receiving lines of 6-63-1 // 13-92-0 // 1-0-0 // 6-45-0. With Washington likely to control this game and with Thompson returning from a multi-week injury, he’ll likely land on the lower end of his range, but he does have big upside every time he touches the ball.
GIANTS RUN OFFENSE
The most exciting player on the Giants every week right now is Saquon Barkley, who failed to top 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time in his career last week — but who still piled up nine receptions and a touchdown along the way. Big plays have been routine for him, with the most rushes in the NFL of 20+ yards (seven), and with the most rushes in the NFL of 40+ yards (three). For good measure, he has also thrown in a few receiving plays of 20+ yards, and he has scored seven touchdowns — making up for the Giants ranking 29th in red zone touchdown rate by regularly scoring from outside the red zone. He has touch counts on the year of 20 // 25 // 22 // 16 // 19 // 22 // 23.
The matchup is good, but not great for Barkley, as Washington ranks 26th in adjusted line yards and 26th in run defense DVOA, but they are one of only two teams in the league that has yet to allow a run of 20+ yards, and much as they did last week against Ezekiel Elliott and the low-powered Cowboys passing attack, they can sell out to stop Saquon this week and force Eli to beat them.
With all that said: five of the most difficult running back matchups this year have been Jacksonville, Dallas (third fewest yards allowed per rush attempt), Houston (second fewest yards allowed per rush attempt), New Orleans (fewest yards allowed per rush attempt), and Philly (second fewest rushing yards allowed per game). Saquon has posted strong to elite scores in all of those spots. Washington has allowed the third fewest rushing yards per game with their keepaway style of play, but I wouldn’t put it past Saquon to post a big game in this spot.
GIANTS PASS OFFENSE
Washington has been strong against the pass, allowing the fifth lowest aDOT in the league, the seventh fewest passing yards per game, the eighth fewest yards per pass attempt, and the seventh fewest pass attempts on the year. Opposing QBs have been able to sprinkle in 123 rushing yards vs Washington (the 11th most QB rushing yards allowed), with three rushing touchdowns (only three teams have allowed more), but Eli Manning has topped seven rushing yards in a game only once in the last three and a half seasons.
Only five teams in the league have allowed fewer receptions to wide receivers, with Washington dominating the short areas of the field where Eli is comfortable working. According to Football Outsiders’ metrics, only six teams have been more stingy on targets within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, and no team in football has been tougher over the short middle. Suffice it to say, this is not last week’s matchup against an Atlanta team that invites teams to complete short passes — setting up the one time all year we have really liked this passing attack across the board.
As always: a tough matchup lowers floor, and it lowers chances of hitting ceiling, but it does not erase ceiling altogether. Odell Beckham has double-digit targets in all but one game this year (a nine-target game in Week 2), and he has posted four respectable stat lines in seven games — with two of those stat lines (the two games in which he actually scored a touchdown) popping off as elite games. Fluky or not, Washington has allowed an above-average number of wide receiver touchdowns, and only six teams have allowed a higher red zone touchdown rate. The Giants could use the help, as they have the third lowest red zone touchdown rate in football.
Sterling Shepard has seen target counts in his last five games of 7 // 10 // 7 // 7 // 8 — continuing to see solid volume regardless of who else is healthy and on the field. He has cleared 75 yards in four of his last five games — and while overall volume for the Giants is a concern, we can bank on a solid number of targets being there once again as long as the Giants get their plays, giving him solid floor in a below-average matchup.
Evan Engram has yet to integrate himself into this offense, with only one game all year north of 19 yards receiving, and only one game north of two catches. Washington has been solid against tight ends, allowing the seventh fewest yards to the position.
Given how little Washington aims to do on offense, Peterson is the only guy I like on this side of the ball — and I like Mack, Kerryon, and Lindsay more in his price range. He’s intriguing for his ability to crack 100 yards and punch in one or two touchdowns, making him viable in tourneys on all three sites.
With Saquon carrying the second highest running back price tag on all three sites, and with this being a less-than-ideal matchup, he doesn’t stand out to me as a “priority play,” though at first glance, it’s a tough call on FanDuel and FantasyDraft between Saquon and Hunt (they are priced much closer together on those sites than they are on DraftKings). Hunt’s team has a much higher touchdown projection, which makes me lean slightly his direction — but I trust the floor on Saquon more; and given what he did against the tough Philly defense, I wouldn’t argue against a higher ceiling projection on him either.
Through the air for the Giants, I like both Beckham and Shepard at their respective price tags, but neither stands out as a Tier 1 (high floor, high ceiling) play. Instead, each looks like the sort of guy to potentially take a shot on if multi-entering large-field tourneys — recognizing that the floor is lower than we would optimally like to find for the price, but that the talent-driven (price-considered) ceiling remains strong.