Evan Silva

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MNF Matchup: Giants @ Saints

Monday, November 28, 2011


Monday Night Football

NY Giants @ New Orleans

Among Week 12's post-Thanksgiving games, Giants-Saints has the highest over/under of the week at 51 points. Superdome is the venue -- always a plus for passing -- and each team entered the week with a top-five passing offense. It's a nice fantasy setup unless you own either team's defense. ... The last time the Saints and Giants met was in October of 2009. Drew Brees carved up the G-Men for 369 yards and four touchdowns on 23-of-30 passing (76.7%). Brees' more than two-year-old stats aren't necessarily indicative of future performance, but New York's overall scheme and defensive philosophy have changed little in the meantime. The Giants still rely heavily on sack production, and few NFL signal callers are tougher to sack than Brees. ... Prior to the Saints' Week 11 bye, Marques Colston burned Atlanta for 113 yards on eight receptions. Colston plays the majority of his snaps in the slot, and Giants No. 1 corner Corey Webster probably won't follow him inside. New York has used Aaron Ross to cover the slot recently, and his coverage has been hit or miss despite a career-high four interceptions. ... Lance Moore is coming off a one-catch, 28-yard game and has played just 42.3% of New Orleans' offensive downs over the last month. One of the few Saints that should be benched in this game, Moore's playing time and targets are too inconsistent and game plan-based for fantasy confidence.

The Giants are getting blown to smithereens by tight ends, and perhaps the scariest part is that they haven't yet faced a player at the position with quite as much talent as Jimmy Graham. In their last three games, the G-Men have allowed 28 receptions for 311 yards and three touchdowns to tight ends. It's a ridiculous, nine-catch, 104-yard weekly average. ... New York still can't get its run defense on track, in Week 11 allowing 113 yards on 23 carries (4.91 YPC) to LeSean McCoy. While New Orleans' backfield has been something of a fantasy headache whenever all members are healthy, Darren Sproles has been the most consistent contributor, particularly in high-scoring affairs like this game projects. When the Saints have scored 30 or more points (five-game sample), Sproles has five touchdowns and is averaging 85 total yards a game. He'll remain the Saints' best fantasy running back until proven otherwise. ... Mark Ingram is officially back healthy, rendering Pierre Thomas a between-the-twenties player only. A changing of the guard is possible after New Orleans' off week, but Ingram and Thomas should be on fantasy benches until we see it. If you're choosing between the two, Ingram is probably a better bet for a rushing touchdown.

The Saints' defensive strength is secondary play, particularly at left cornerback with Jabari Greer. Greer doesn't follow No. 1 wide receivers around the formation, but is playing at at borderline shutdown level staying on the left side. In the Giants' three-wide sets, Mario Manningham lines up across from opposing LCBs, with Victor Cruz in the slot and Hakeem Nicks at split end. Cruz and Nicks have far better fantasy matchups than Manningham this week, squaring off with slot CB Tracy Porter and RCB Patrick Robinson, respectively. ... If the coverage matchups aren't enough to get you to start Cruz and Nicks, the target trends should be. Behind Nicks, here is Eli Manning's target distribution over the last month: Cruz 41, Manningham 28, Jake Ballard 25. There is no question that Cruz has overtaken Manningham as Eli's No. 2 option in the passing game. Start 'em. ... Manningham is listed as questionable on the injury report after missing all practices last week. He'll apparently be a game-time decision, but isn't worth the risk.

Nicks is mired in a midseason slump, but look for him to bust out of it on Monday night. He has an elite matchup in a projected shootout and is coming off a long week to rest his previously balky knee and hamstring. It's an excellent fantasy formula. ... The potentially year-ending injury to Giants LT William Beatty doesn't bode well for oversized TE Jake Ballard. Ballard may become more valuable to the G-Men as an in-line blocker, with Manningham or Ramses Barden taking the targets Ballard leaves behind. ... Ahmad Bradshaw will miss another week with a cracked foot and still has no timetable to return. Brandon Jacobs is coming off an awful game against Philadelphia, but remains the Giants' clear-cut lead back over Da'Rel Scott and D.J. Ware. The Saints have been quietly brutal in run defense all season, allowing a league-high 5.19 yards per carry. Assuming New York stays competitive for at least three quarters, Jacobs should not struggle to flirt with 80-90 rushing yards. He'll also be a good bet to score.

Score Prediction: Saints 30, Giants 27



Gregg Rosenthal takes a look at the key players to start or sit on Monday night.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva


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