@MagicSportsGuy breaks down everything you need to know ahead of this week’s Thursday Night Football matchup: Don’t set those NFL DFS Thursday Night lineups without it!
Giants @ Patriots
PATS -17, O/U 42
Implied Team Totals: NYG – 12.75 | Pats – 25.5
Overview, Pace and Play Calling
Giants come limping into Foxboro after getting a beat down by the Vikings. This was going to be a challenge for the G-Men regardless of matchup, but doing it in on short rest, on the road, against what many believe is a historically good defense, is a comically bad set-up. That said, I know you degens are going to play the showdown slate anyway, so on with the analysis…
The line opened at 14, then quickly jumped to 17 with all the NYG injuries. Total also moved from 46 at the open, to 42 (Tuesday @ 4 pm), with the Giants total moving from 15.25 to 12.75, one of the lowest team totals I can remember seeing. Pats are 8-18 to the UNDER in 2018/2019, as the line makers are slow to adjust to their top-ranked D (6.8 PPG allowed this season) and offense that is less explosive without Gronk.
NE is scoring 31 PPG but is 19th in yards per play (5.5), along with teams like Denver, AZ, BUFF. This after getting to play the Dolphins and Redskins (32nd/29th DVOA). Pats have 2.4 takeaways per game, which continues to set-up Brady and the offense. They are averaging 4 RZ opportunities per game, after getting six last week in WASH.
NYG has turned it over 2.4 times per game in Daniel Jones’ three-starts (3 INTs). They allowed MINN 5 RZ opportunities last week, but opponents have only converted on 27.27% of RZ chances. That signals regression. There is no chance this D continues to keep teams from scoring once they are in the RZ at that frequency. Last year, they allowed a 56% RZ scoring rate (TDs only), which is league average.
Sterling Shepard (27% target share with Jones – 38% market share air yards) will reportedly be “out a while” with a concussion. Head injuries are scary – bones heal but not brains – so I hope they don’t rush him back when a high-draft pick is more important to the Giants future than a game/win is. Bummer, since he was averaging 6.3 rec./73 rec. yards/22 rush yards per game since returning from his last concussion; that is with games against NE and BUFF, the #1 and #3 pass DVOA.
Evan Engram has a sprained MCL and is highly doubtful. That is another 25% of Jones’ total targets that are up for grabs. Unfortunately, they are targets against NE.
Rhett Ellison is a blocking TE, but he did post 3/24 in Week 4 and is only $200 if you want to pray for a very unlikely goal line TD. Something named Garrett Dickerson came on late to play four-snaps, presumably after Engram got hurt (haven’t watched this game yet). No real news, other than many would have expected (other blocking TE) Eric Tomlinson to play those snaps.
Golden Tate played 67% of snaps in his debut last Sunday, getting eight targets (3 rec./13 yards, 16% target share). He will take over in the slot in 3-WR sets (73%) and opposite Darius Slayton (11%) in two WR formations.
NE slot CB Jonathan Jones has had the best five games of his career, possibly the best five games of any CB in the league. He is first in catch rate allowed, 2nd in passer rating in coverage, first in FP per target, etc., etc. Remarkable for a 26-year-old, UDFA that has come in and out of the lineup since coming into the league. Tate should see 8-10 targets as a realistic floor. It won’t be pretty, but he could reach/exceed value from sheer volume.
Slayton is set for a rough night also, with Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty. I know Gilmore has shadowed the team’s X in every game this year (78.8% last week against McClaurin), but I am not sure he (Pats) will feel it is necessary with Slaton. That would put the rookie WR in front of McCourty for approx 55-60% of his routes. By the numbers, he’s actually been better than Gilmore, however, Gilmore gets the tougher cover so let’s call it a wash and just say it’s a brutal matchup. Slayton does have the tools to be a legit “#3” NFL WR, so he is the guy we want in garbage time and my “favorite” NYG/WR option. I put quotes because, if not for the showdown slates, I would have written “FADE THE GIANTS” and moved on with my life.
Cody Latimer should see the majority of snaps in those 3-WR sets, with the “other Shepard” (Russell) on IR and Cody Core apparently in the dog house.
Core had five targets in Week 2 (3/28) on 20% of snaps (Sterling was out) but has been a ghost ever since. Now with Slayton emerging and Tate off of suspension, I don’t see Core playing much more, especially if they re-sign either T.J. Jones or Bennie Fowler, as has been reported by multiple NY media outlets. Both were recently cut.
Latimer is only $1200 on DK, which makes him the guy to use if you are trying to shove-in expensive options. He’s not good and has only one target in two games played, but he should see 70%+ of the Giants snaps.
Saquon Barkley is listed as questionable, though, I can’t imagine why the Giants would rush back their franchise RB in a road game as a 17-point underdog. We criticize the NBA for babying their players, tanking, but that is so much smarter than rushing back players like we see all the time in the NFL.
Wayne Gallman is also OUT with a concussion (you can’t make this shit up). That leaves UDFAs Jon Hilliman & Elijhaa Penny as the last guys standing. NE rush D is also VERY good (3.28 adjusted line yards), but if you are making me choose, I will say Penny with him being less expensive and possibly lower owned.
NYG is allowing 2.4 FP per pass attempt to WRs, which equates to over 42 FPPG allowed. Football is not basketball folks; you don’t need to worry about the blowout factor. NBA is minutes and volume-driven; even the best usually need a full game to hit value. In the NFL, a value WR can get you 5/114/2 in the first half (30.4 FP on DK), which would be 6-7x.
I played Phillip Dorsett on a few large dollar buy-ins last week and posted his OVER yards prop bet, so you can imagine my mood after he pulled a hamstring on the 4th play of the game. You can also guess my mood after I watched Tom Brady pass for a season-high 348 yards & 3 TDs.
Brady is in another great spot to post 300 and multiple scores. Giants are so bad; they were able to boost Kirk Cousins to a season-high 306/2 last week, 79 yards more than his best game prior. Brady will be without Dorsett again, which means Jakobi Meyers becomes a thing on the showdown slate. He will be this year’s Chris Hogan, the “Z” receiver who lines up opposite Josh Gordon, runs a lot of routes and gets very few targets. I wouldn’t put him on a cash or primary GPP team, but if you submit 20 into the $3-$4, 20-max GPPs, I would get 2-3 shares in hopes he sneaks past this porous secondary for a long TD.
Julian Edelman should be the highest owned player on the one-game slate after an 8/110/1 outing in WASH. If you fade, you are hoping for 5/52, which you (may) be able to replace. If he pops for a 7/108/1 type of “Edelman” game, there is no chance you cash at his ownership. There just won’t be many other options in this game that can put up that kind of stat line.
Janoris Jenkins will likely shadow Josh Gordon for 65-75% of his routes. Jenkins played well against Amari Cooper in week one (1/13, 64% of routes) but has been torched by John Brown and Mike Evans (12/230/3 on 17 targets, 66% of combined routes). Last week, MINN targeted him just four times, but they converted all four for 83 yards. Gordon is averaging just under nine targets per game over his last three and gets a bump with Dorsett out. Gordon’s average yards per target is down over 2+, which has him ranked 35th in YPR and 51st in YPT. This after finishing 2018 3rd in YPR and 9th in YPT. Look for that to go up Thursday, as I am projecting him to get 2-3 deep ball attempts on TNF and connect on (at least) one for a big play.
The reason for the prediction: Gordon’s average yards of separation are UP to 2.26 per route (7th) from 1.06 (95th) in 2018. If he is that open, it’s only a matter of time before he and Brady connect. Not only is Jenkins getting beat regularly, but rookie Deandre Baker, the Giants other outside CB, has allowed 2.63 FP per target (74th).
Sony Michel came through with an acceptable but unspectacular 16 carries/91 yards and a TD game. This sets up again as a “Sony” game, with the Pats so heavily favored at home. I assume the career-high three catches last week were a product of Rex Burkhead being out, but it was encouraging to see it is within his skill set. Burkhead was “limited” on Tuesday, so we will have to wait before truly handicapping this situation. That said, Michel should be a heavy favorite to get another 15-20 carries in what should be a blowout. Giants got punched in the mouth last week by the MINN OL, so I am sure NE is licking their chops to do the same with this unit traveling into NE on short rest. Vikings RBs racked up 294 total yards last week. He should be a lock in your cash/primary lineups.
James White has 19 targets over his past two games, getting a boost from Burkhead playing a combined 12 snaps. He becomes much harder to trust if Sexy Rexy is back since the script doesn’t set up well for him. Regardless, he is still Brady’s #2 target share option at 20% (Edelman, 21%) so I expect him to be active. We saw the Vikings utilize Dalvin Cook as a pass-catching back against these poor NYG LBs/Safeties. LB Alec Ogletree is supposed to return after missing two games which helps, but he is hardly Mike Singletary, circa 1985. White also gets a little help this week in usage with Dorsett’s 15% target share up for grabs. If Burkhead is OUT, I would have no problem stacking the two NE backs.
Brandin Bolden is the asshole who could ruin that stack. He only played 11 snaps last week but got an INSANE USAGE rate (6 touches, including a 29-yard TD pass on his only target). If it gets out of hand, I could see him reaching value at $1400 in the showdown, but I would rather play the first two then the “Bolden lottery.”
NE released Ben Watson this week, which Brady was not thrilled about. When asked about playing with Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse, the QB didn’t exactly sound enthusiastic:
“I’m the quarterback, so I don’t make those decisions,” Brady said. “Whoever’s out there, that’s who I’ve got to play with.”
Prior to Week 5, no NE TE had run more than 18 routes (Izzo in Week 3), but LaCosse played an eye-opening 94% of snaps (58% previous high) and ran 37 routes (4 targets). Izzo actually had a higher “target per snap” share, with two targets on only eight routes.
Preferred “Core” Plays
(All Formats / Full Slate)
- PATS D
Full-Slate GPP Stack Options
- Brady/Gordon/Edelman (stack 1, would play this on the full slate)
- Brady/Michel (stack 2, hoping to buy all of NEs 4-7 TDs. Just have to pray Bolden doesn’t troll)
- Brady/Gordon/White (stack 3)
*Disclosure: I only submitted a few $4 LUs so I could get a feel of the slate, but I would have faded all together if not for wanting to help the mafia
- Michel (USING SONY in the CAPTAIN Spot since he is projected as the 6th most popular “captain”.
- Brady – The MOST POPULAR CAPTAIN, so play in cash and FADE if you are going for $400k on DK. We are playing for him to get shut out, or at least finish with 250/1, versus 300/3 like he did last week.
- Edelman – I touched on him on this slate in the article. It looks like he will have the second-highest ownership on the slate in a killer matchup. Most teams will have the Brady/Edelman stack, so I assume their ownership will be very close.
- Gordon – Hopefully the questionable tags keeps his ownership lower.
- PATS D – I am not a fan of playing D’s and K’s in these slates. TBH I am not a fan of these slates at all, I miss the old days where there was some real $$ up for grabs on the full slate. Anyway, I thought they would be like 70-80% owned in this, but DC and Healy have told me I’m nuts. I tend to trust those guys with ownership so I raised them on my ranks. Regardless if NYG exceeds their puny 12.5 point team total, I can’t see many scenarios that don’t end up with NE turning it over 2-3 times.
- James White – Rex Burkhead is OUT. As is Dorsett, so expect White to be a primary Brady target for as long as this one stays relatively close. He is a great value on DK.
- Daniel Jones – A QB is always going to have a median projection higher than position players. Especially in a script that should force Jones into more pass attempts. He should also be running for his life all night, which could lead to some rushing production if he slips out of the pocket. We have to play one NYG, and he is the safest guy to get you 10 FP (bold statement after I played Baker last week, haha).
- Cody Lattimore – More on him above, strictly a salary punt to squeeze in a high-end NE passing stack.
- Hilliman and Penny – Healy likes Hilliman tonight and he is $$ in these slates so you may want to ignore me when I tell you I prefer Penny on DK, but would fade both.
- Slayton & Tate – Apparently these guys are going to be 20-30% owned?! No thanks at those ownership levels and prices.
- The TEs – Read more above, but prefer LaCosse in hopes last week was not a one-time thing.
For more insight into NFL DFS Thursday Night, refer back to Benny’s NFL DFS Monday-Thursday Slate Breakdown for his take on Giants / Patriots!