Thursday Night Football
Washington @ NY Giants
Redskins-Giants has a mediocre 44-point Vegas total with the host G-Men favored by four. New York's team total is 24 points. ... The premier play in this one goes almost without saying; Odell Beckham roasted Washington for 12-143-3 last December, and is coming off an electrifying 7-146-1 effort in Week 2 against Atlanta. Giants OC Ben McAdoo creatively schemed Beckham away from Falcons LCB Desmond Trufant last week; OBJ ran far more slot routes than usual while dusting RCB Robert Alford and slot CB Phillip Adams for all of his catches. On Thursday night, expect to see Beckham lined up often against DeAngelo Hall. ... With all of that said, Washington has played stiffer pass defense than expected early on, holding Ryan Tannehill and Nick Foles to a combined 39-of-66 passing (59.1%) for 376 yards (5.70 YPA) and two touchdowns through two weeks. The matchup is tougher than it seems on paper, but Eli Manning remains a rock-solid QB1. In two games against the Redskins last season, Eli completed nearly 70% of his throws for 550 combined yards and a 7:1 TD-to-INT ratio. The Giants will have a difficult time running on the Redskins' stout front, forcing Eli to move the ball in the air. Eli averaged 36.5 pass attempts in last year's two Skins-Giants games.
The Redskins fielded one of the NFL's most underrated run defenses last year. They're back at it in 2015, holding Dolphins and Rams RBs to 79 scoreless yards on 22 runs (3.59 YPC) in Weeks 1-2. The Giants maintained their three-way RBBC in last Sunday's loss to Atlanta, giving Shane Vereen 14 touches, Rashad Jennings 11, and Andre Williams 6. Vereen has logged 48% of New York's snaps, while Jennings has played 31% and Williams 18%. Leading all NFL running backs in catches (12) through two weeks, Vereen is an every-week RB2/flex in PPR leagues. With Williams not going away and now facing a hard matchup, Jennings is a tough sell as a fantasy starter. ... Manning's Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Beckham 20; Vereen 13; Preston Parker 12; Larry Donnell 10; Rueben Randle 7; Daniel Fells 4; Jennings 3. ... Parker managed 43 yards on his 12 targets while committing five drops before being cut on Tuesday. ... Randle has been dogged by knee problems and looks sluggish on the field. Eli did speak of involving Randle more this week, but it's a see-it-and-we'll-believe-it situation. ... With Fells (foot) inactive for Week 2, Donnell's snap rate jumped from 68% to 86% and he capitalized with a third-quarter red-zone touchdown. In Weeks 1 and 2, the Redskins yielded stat lines of 4-73 (Dolphins) and 6-62 (Rams) to enemy tight ends. If Fells is again announced as inactive, Donnell will be at the low end of TE1 streamer consideration. Donnell did have a three-TD game against Washington last September, but went 2-11-0 in these teams' December date.
The run-first Redskins have a Vegas total of just 20 points for Thursday night's division rivalry game. ... After utilizing Alfred Morris as their Week 1 lead back, the Skins turned to an even timeshare in last Sunday's upset of St. Louis. Beastly rookie Matt Jones went off (19-123-2), breaking chunk plays while powering through arm tackles on 43% of the snaps. Morris played 47% of the downs, but through two weeks has a 4.19 YPC average to Jones' 6.04. The two-way split should continue against a Giants defense that's so far played above its head, but lacks up-front personnel to stay stout against elite rushing attacks. Morris and Jones should be viewed on near-equal footing from a fantasy standpoint. They are low-end RB2/flex plays at New York. Expect both to be heavily involved. ... On a run-committed team, Kirk Cousins is serving a low-volume game-manager role with Morris and Jones as the centerpieces. Cousins has so far dink-and-dunked his way to a 75.9% completion rate, but is averaging under seven yards per attempt. Per PFF, only five of Cousins' 27 pass attempts traveled beyond ten yards in last week's win over the Rams. As a two-QB-league starter, Cousins does have a plus Week 3 matchup against a Giants defense that will likely be without top corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion) and has the weakest safeties in the league. In Weeks 1-2, Tony Romo and Matt Ryan carved up the 0-2 G-Men for a combined 66-of-91 passing (72.5%), 719 yards (7.90 YPA), four TDs, and two picks. The JPP-less Giants have two sacks through two games.
Cousins' Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Jordan Reed 17; Pierre Garcon 15; Ryan Grant 8; Andre Roberts 5; Jones 3; Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder, and Morris 2. ... Reed led the Redskins in Week 1 catches and Week 2 receiving yards. Mostly a part-time player up until this point, Reed now plays 85% of Washington's offensive downs. Reed is a recommended TE1 against a Giants defense that was gashed for 10-68-3 by Dallas tight ends in Week 1, and 4-77 by Jacob Tamme last week. ... Garcon is a high-floor WR3 with WR2 upside against a Giants defense missing Rodgers-Cromartie after coughing up stat lines of 13-135 to Julio Jones and 6-77-1 to Leonard Hankerson last week. Garcon opened the season with consecutive six-catch games as Cousins' top wideout in the absence of DeSean Jackson (hamstring). ... The Redskins used a rotation opposite Garcon in Week 2. Grant (3-45) and Roberts (1-0) both logged 61% snap rates, while rookie Jamison Crowder and Rashad Ross each chipped in a small handful of plays. Based on sheer opportunity, it's possible one of the Redskins' complementary wide receivers will make a big play and/or finish with a decent box score against the Giants. My pick to do that would be Grant, but he doesn't make for more than a dart-throw fantasy start.
Score Prediction: Giants 24, Redskins 21