NY Giants @ Philadelphia
LeSean McCoy's 16 touches against Arizona were a personal low when healthy since Week 12 last season. Coach Andy Reid acknowledged afterwards that he was mistaken to limit his top skill-position player's involvement. Following the aforementioned Week 12 game, Reid gave McCoy 21 touches, which he took for 133 total yards and two touchdowns. I'd be willing to bet that McCoy's usage won't be a Week 4 issue, and his historical stats against the Giants suggest McCoy is set up for a bounce-back game. In six career meetings with the G-Men, McCoy has rushed 92 times for 526 yards (5.72 YPC) and three TDs. He's chipped in an average of four receptions per game. With Michael Vick leading the NFL in turnovers, it'd make sense for Reid to hitch his wagon to McCoy. At least until Vick gets his act together. ... Brent Celek's 8/157 Week 2 game turned fantasy heads, before he snapped back to reality with 36 yards on two grabs against the Cards. Celek is an in-line tight end who doesn't play in the slot, so he can get stuck on the line when Philadelphia needs "help" blocks for a struggling offensive tackle. The Giants have been tough on tight ends early this season, failing to surrender a touchdown to the position through three games.
While he could fast change minds with an efficient, productive effort on a big stage like this, it's time to be concerned about Vick's fantasy prospects. Playing as out of control as ever and having already absorbed 27 QB hits -- many of which are on him -- Vick failed to receive a ringing job-security endorsement from Reid on Monday. Reid later stated on his radio show that Vick remains the Eagles' starter, "period," but fantasy owners must waste no time in securing the strongest QB2 they possibly can. Nick Foles is in the on-deck circle in Philly. ... The return of Jeremy Maclin will be a huge help to Vick and fantasy owners alike, though. As noted by Wesseling, Philadelphia is 7-0 when Maclin plays and 0-3 when he doesn't over its past ten games. Those numbers aren't fluky. Maclin is the Eagles' most complete wide receiver, and the offense doesn't run nearly as smoothly without him. Start Maclin, and his return should increase the confidence level fantasy owners have in Vick, too. ... DeSean Jackson is already beginning to shape up as an inconsistent fantasy player, which should surprise no one. That's pretty much the way it's always been. Jackson is a high-upside fantasy play against a weak Giants secondary, but could just as easily lay an egg. He’ll likely always be boom or bust.
Though more of a workmanlike back lacking make-you-miss ability, Andre Brown brings a power element to New York's offense that Ahmad Bradshaw can't. Brown also holds his own as a pass protector and receiver, and doesn't need to leave the field on critical downs. In other words, the Giants can ride Brown if he shows a "hot hand" early in games. Despite being re-announced as the starter, Bradshaw's fantasy value is in the gutter. While Brown may not suddenly become the feature back, he's earned a timeshare with a 5.58 YPC average, balanced running in traffic, and ball security. Brown has zero career fumbles; putting the ball on the ground has been an issue for both Bradshaw and rookie David Wilson. Wilson remains an RB5 stash. Bradshaw is an RB3 with plummeting stock. Brown is a low-end flex against an Eagles defense that has allowed 234 yards and one touchdown on 68 carries (3.44 YPC) to opposing tailbacks. Dating back to 2011, Philly has surrendered just the one rushing score in its last seven games. ... Ramses Barden did well to capitalize on his Week 3 opportunity after Hakeem Nicks (foot) missed the team flight, exploiting pathetic Panthers pass coverage that routinely left him wide open. Barden's career stats before last Thursday: 16/198/0 in 19 games. His stats at Carolina: 9/138/0. The effort may have vaulted Barden ahead of Domenik Hixon for the third receiver job.
Friday Update: The Giants announced Friday that Nicks' status for Week 4 is doubtful after his knee swelled up following Thursday's practice. Either Barden or Hixon is going to start at split end against the Eagles, squaring off with Asomugha. We should know the starter by Sunday morning.
Eli Manning's last 17 regular season games: 401-of-645 (62.2 percent) for 5,453 yards (8.5 YPA), and a 32:17 TD-to-INT ratio. Pretty good. The Eagles' third-ranked pass defense presents a tough challenge, but Eli is still an acceptable back-end QB1. ... If Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Vernon Davis are fantasy's top three tight ends, Martellus Bennett is a close No. 4. Bennett leads the NFL in red-zone targets and is on pace for 80 catches and 987 yards. Get him in your lineup each week, regardless of matchup. ... Manning's target distribution so far: Victor Cruz 36, Bennett 23, Nicks 21, Barden 12, Brown 7, Hixon 6, Wilson and Rueben Randle 3, Bradshaw 2. ... Look for Nicks to face RCB Nnamdi Asomugha for most of this game down the left-hand side, while Cruz deals with LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Rodgers-Cromartie has quietly overtaken Asomugha as Philly's top cover corner. Cruz can still get viable production in the slot, where he'll square off with rookie Brandon Boykin on passing downs. Both Giants wideouts need to be in fantasy lineups. Nicks' foot should benefit from his 12-day layoff. He had a career-high 199 yards the last time he played.
Friday Update: Eli's Week 4 outlook takes a hit due to Nicks' expected absence. Downgrade Manning from back-end QB1 to QB2 in a difficult matchup for any passing game. While the Giants will probably choose between Barden and Hixon just before game time, Cruz and Bennett figure to be the two biggest beneficiaries in terms of targets and fantasy-viable production.
Score Prediction: Eagles 23, Giants 21