The NFL kicks off Week 6 on Thursday Night Football with the New York Giants at the New England Patriots. The Patriots are huge 16.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportbook, and the game has been given a total points of 41, which is on the lower end of the Week 6 schedule.
Part of the reason for the low point total is that the Giants enter the matchup heavily banged up and have ruled out several key offensive players. Star RB Saquon Barkley will remain out as he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain, and Barkley’s backup, Wayne Gallman Jr., is also out as he recovers from a concussion, leaving the Giants without their top two running backs. Sterling Shepard suffered his second concussion of the season last week and is out, leaving the Giants down their top wide receiver. Evan Engram, the Giants’ top tight end, is also out as he reportedly is dealing with an MCL sprain in his knee.
Because the Giants are so banged up, deep league options have opened up for fantasy owners in need of a bye week fill in for deep leagues. RB Jon Hilliman played on about 64% of the Giants’ offensive plays last week after Gallman was injured early in the game, a snap rate about double of RB Elijhaa Penny, and Hilliman appears set to take on the majority of snaps at RB for the Giants on Thursday. TE Rhett Ellison is the primary beneficiary of Engram’s injury, and Darius Slayton is a candidate to see more snaps at WR in Shepard’s absence. However, these fill-in players are not particularly appealing fantasy options unless fantasy owners are desperate, as New England’s defense has been elite at preventing fantasy scoring to opponents.
The Patriots also carry some injury designations, including Julian Edelman (chest), Josh Gordon (knee), Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) and Rex Burkhead (foot). Dorsett has been ruled out, and Edelman, Gordon and Burkhead are questionable. Edelman and Gordon have carried the same injury designations in recent weeks and have still played, and their statuses do not appear to be too in danger.
Here are some players from Thursday night’s game that fantasy owners can consider starting or sitting in their leagues:
Start: QB Tom Brady
Brady, the eighth best 2019 QB by average fantasy points per week, is an easy start against a poor Giants defense that has struggled to defend the pass. The Giants rank towards the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed, QB rating allowed to opposing QBs and fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs. The downside to this matchup is that the Giants probably won’t be able to move the ball well given their injuries, so it’s possible passing volume could be limited if the game gets out of hand. Brady attempted a season-low 28 passing attempts in a blowout win over the tanking Dolphins in Week 2, but still had a good fantasy outing after recording three TDs.
Sit: QB Daniel Jones
Jones has flashed strong potential with his mobility, ball placement and accuracy on the run, but is in a brutal spot on the road this week against an elite defense. The Patriots have held opposing QBs to the lowest QB rating while allowing the fewest passing yards and fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. Jones lacks quality options to throw to given the Giants’ injuries, as he is down two of his best receiving threats in Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. The road team on the short week also hurts Jones, along with the fact that he is a rookie facing Bill Belichick. The one upside with the matchup is that passing volume could be boosted given the fact that the Giants are big underdogs, but Jones still carries a lot of risk on the road against an elite defense.
Start: WR Julian Edelman
Edelman enters the matchup on the injury report again, but this injury has not limited him, and it looks like he will play. Edelman was highly productive playing through the injury last week, catching 8-of-9 targets for 110 yards and a TD while playing on 92% of the Patriots’ offensive plays. Despite blowout risk, Edelman has a good matchup against a poor Giants pass defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to WR.
Start: Patriots defense
The Giants are down their top two running backs, their top wide receiver, and top tight end. It’s difficult to envision the Giants being able to move the ball with so few weapons, and the Patriots are facing a rookie QB in a road setting on the short week. New England’s defense has been outstanding, ranking as the best fantasy scoring defense while allowing the fewest points, fewest yards and holding opposing QBs to the lowest QB rating.
Start: WR Golden Tate
While the Giants probably won’t be able to move the ball particularly well given their injuries, they lack options for QB Daniel Jones to throw to, which could create boosted target volume for Tate in PPR leagues. The Giants being big underdogs could also force them into passing mode, creating more target opportunities. Tate did not run deep routes in his first game back from a suspension last week, averaging just 3.5 air yards per target, one of the lowest marks among all WR. The short passes could also make Tate a volume catch candidate.
Start: RB Sony Michel
The Patriots being sizable home favorites against a Giants team that will probably struggle to move the ball could create boosted rushing opportunities for Michel. Michel carried the ball a season-high 21 times in New England’s blowout win over the Dolphins in Week 2 and could be in line for a similar boost in volume if the game gets out of hand in the second half. Rex Burkhead (foot) being out again could also give a boost to Michel’s fantasy value.
Start: WR Josh Gordon
Passing volume could be limited in this game, but Gordon’s matchup is solid against the aforementioned poor Giants pass defense that has allowed a ton of fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Gordon is a candidate for fantasy scoring opportunities even if the game ends up being a blowout.