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Football Daily Dose

TNF Preview: The Quarterback Battle of 2020

by Chris Allen
Updated On: October 22, 2020, 9:42 am ET

Thursday night’s game looked like a fantasy-friendly contest earlier in the season. Instead, injuries have riddled both teams and we’re rostering players we never heard of until a week ago. Our interest has been reduced to wondering which team will tie Dallas for first in the NFC East with two wins on the season. The projected game total is just 45 points, but we can always find fantasy intrigue in an island game. Let’s set our expectations low and take a look at the points of interest in the Week 7 opener featuring the Eagles and Giants.

Another Tie Wouldn’t Surprise Me

Fantasy managers were warned against drafting Daniel Jones back in August. The thesis behind the strategy was their opening schedule against the Steelers, Bears, 49ers and Rams. However, we all saw the schedule instantly open up after Week 4 prompting us to plan to roster Giants’ players and wait for the positive matchups. But Jones has remained an inefficient passer despite positive game environments (average -0.1 EPA per Play and +2.7% CPOE over his last four games). Philadelphia’s defense is seventh in pass rush win rate with an average of 3.0 sacks per game over their last three weeks. Neither bodes well for Jones or his offensive line, but Malik Jackson (Eagles’ starting defensive tackle) will miss the game with a quad injury. If Jones can navigate Philadelphia’s weak pass rush, he can take advantage of their even weaker secondary. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged 7.1 Adjusted Yards per Attempt and 20.4 PPG against the Eagles. Lamar Jackson’s 16.8 points via rushing skew the numbers, but running is a part of Jones’ game. He’s averaged five attempts per game over his last three games with two attempts from within the 20-yard line. The Giants have scored 20 and 34 points in their last couple of games so the range of outcomes is wide for Jones as they open Week 7.

It’s hard to set expectations for Carson Wentz at this point. He was promised Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson and Zach Ertz and got Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and Jason Croom instead. The Eagles have faced the Ravens, Steelers and 49ers in the past three weeks and Wentz has finished as a QB1 in two of those contests. He’s been inaccurate (-1.3% CPOE). He’s relied on rushing to boost his output (31.8% of his fantasy production). But the lineup has been in constant flux. There’s been a new pass-catcher incorporated into the offense every week since Week 2. At least two offensive linemen have been on the injury report over the same time span. The result of Thursday’s game pales in comparison to what it might cost them should another injury occur. New York is above average in generating pressure (23.9%) which may prompt Wentz to scramble for a few extra points. Win or lose, we just hope the Eagles can get some time to rest and get healthy with their scheduled bye coming in Week 9.

Points of Interest for TNF

For the Giants, we’re all waiting to see if Sterling Shepard will be activated from IR (turf toe). He’s been out since Week 2 and no one on the team has been able to fill the role. Daniel Jones has thrown just one touchdown during Shepard’s absence and it’s gone to Darius Slayton. Jason Garrett has turned Evan Engram into Jason Witten with just a 5.6 aDOT and the group of Damion Ratley, C.J. Board and Austin Mack has accrued just 81 receiving yards in four weeks. The Giants have until 4 PM EST to activate Shepard and test him prior to kickoff. Shepard may not be a viable fantasy option, but any help to Jones would improve his stock as a deep streaming quarterback option in Week 7.

For the Eagles, the focus is on how Doug Pederson has game planned for New York with multiple starters out on a short week. Even against the Giants, a team featuring Boston Scott, Corey Clement and Richard Rodgers has to present some limitations in designing an offense. The rotation between Scott and Clement will give us some guidance moving forward, but Scott’s usage in the passing game will be telling as Miles Sanders had earned a 16% target share over the three games prior to his injury. We’d like to see the Eagles get creative with empty backfields to take the pressure off the weakened offensive line, but the turnaround time may have been too short.

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COVID-19 Watch: Back to Vegas

Darren Waller’s charity event back in Week 4 brought necessary scrutiny to the team’s adherence to the COVID-19 protocols. It also happened to coincide with their defensive tackle Maurice Hurst testing positive for the virus. The Raiders are back in the news after Trent Brown (starting offensive tackle) tested positive and was immediately placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. No details have been provided on Brown’s current health status and the obvious concern should be for his future well-being without knowing whether he’s asymptomatic. In addition, the potential fallout for the team brings their Week 7 matchup into question. The Raiders practiced on Monday coming off of their bye week. Brown didn’t test positive until Wednesday. His interactions with the rest of his starting positional group prompted Jon Gruden to keep them out of the facility while the league conducts more tests. Negative results will allow them to return to practice, but league protocol will prevent Brown from playing against Tampa Bay this weekend. The hope is that all players will return to play, but the team’s prospects for Week 7 look grim as the team’s implied total has already dropped 1.5 points since it opened at 25.25.

Injury Slants

Robert Tonyan who was seen limping throughout the Packers’ Week 6 matchup against the Buccaneers did not practice on Wednesday. He did finish the game, but fantasy managers should monitor his practice participation heading into the weekend. Jamison Crowder popped up on the injury report with a groin strain. He turned in a limited practice on Wednesday, but has already missed time this season due to soft tissue injuries. Joe Mixon didn’t practice and Zac Taylor didn’t have an update on his status for the weekend. Mixon did finish the game against the Colts, but his status will be in question ahead of their game against Cleveland.

Chris Allen

Chris Allen is a mechanical engineer by trade that leverages his analytical background to study the various components of fantasy football. From how weather impacts results to draft strategy, Chris uses a 'process over results' approach to deliver actionable analysis for any fantasy football format. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisAllenFFWX.