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Monday Night Football Matchup Analysis (Week 2)

Week 2 of the 2017 NFL season concludes with a matchup between Eli Manning’s New York Giants, and Matthew Stafford’s Detroit Lions.  Both teams are likely to lean on a passing attack, as each team’s ability to run the ball effectively is suspect.

This article aims to preview the Monday night matchups from a fantasy football perspective, running through each of the key players on both sides.

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New York Giants Outlook

The Giants live and die as a fantasy unit on their receiving corps. In recent years, Eli Manning has failed to live up to his status as a likely Hall of Fame quarterback, but has still maintained fantasy relevancy due to the likes of OBJ and Sterling Shepard. 2017 in theory is no different, as last week Eli tried to utilize his weapons on the outside. But without the game breaking ability of Odell Beckham Jr., the offense was more than anemic against a depleted Cowboys defense.

There is light at the end of this tunnel, however. Ian Rappaport has reported that although OBJ’s presence in Monday’s game is a game-time decision, it is quite likely that he will make his 2017 debut. Beckham’s presence shifts an entire defense his way and will open up opportunities for Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. The Giants will be as potent as Beckham allows for, as the offensive line hasn’t taken the steps forward necessary to allow for a more diverse offensive scheme. Both Giant tackles, Erick Flowers and Bobby Hart, were among the 20 worst starting tackles in the NFL last week according to ProFootballFocus. These drastically low rankings bode poorly against a Lions front seven that is gaining momentum.

If Manning is able to rely on the interior of his offensive line to buy him some time, Eli can hope to step up in the pocket and hit the crossing routes that have become the Giants’ bread and butter.  This formula could help Sterling Shepard owners, as this style netted him eight TDs in 2016. All three of the Giants interior offensive linemen graded out above average according to PFF, so if OBJ is able to take pressure off of the line of scrimmage, Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen can have more successful outings. If Perkins is unable to capitalize on the opportunity allotted to him against a below-average linebacker group, more calls will be coming for Orleans Darkwa to eat into his carry load.

Players to watch for: Odell Beckham Jr.--WR, Shane Vereen--RB, Sterling Shepard--WR, Evan Engram--TE, Paul Perkins--RB, Brandon Marshall--WR, Roger Lewis, WR


Detroit Lions Outlook

Matthew Stafford and the Lions hope to continue their impressive play from Week 1 against the hard-nosed Giants in Week 2.  According to’s scoring leaders, Stafford was the third-highest scorer in the NFL in Week 1.  This was achieved by quick dump-off’s to one of the league’s best receiving backs in Theo Riddick, along with the new-found connection with rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

Golladay’s seven targets turned into 69 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals. With Marvin Jones on the outside along with Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate is free to play where he’s most comfortable - the slot. PFF had Golden Tate ranked as the Lions' most efficient receiver in Week 1, so the change already seems to be paying off. The Giants have a very talented defensive line, and once again, according to PFF the left side of the Lions’ offensive line has been struggling. Expect to see a game plan that relies heavily on Stafford’s arm and the receiving corps ability to make plays happen.

Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins will have their hands full with numerous receiving threats coming at every level of the field. Jenkins suffered hand and ankle injuries in the opener, leading to his availability being downgraded to questionable for Monday. Even if Jenkins plays, we can deduce that he won’t be at 100% and the outside receivers can take advantage of this easier opportunity.

I would expect that Stafford and the Lions will thrive, but I believe the player with the most guaranteed upside this week is Theo Riddick. He’s a trusted safety valve by Stafford, and won’t have to deal with the likes of Landon Collins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Furthermore, with such a potent front seven, it would make sense that Stafford will turn to the receiving backs early and often to help keep the linemen’s feet off the gas.

Play your Lions with comfort, and expect them to perform like RB2/WR2. But I would temper expectations of any players having RB1 or WR1 weeks.

Players to watch for: Matthew Stafford--QB, Kenny Golladay--WR, Theo Riddick--RB, Golden Tate--WR, Ameer Abdullah--RB, Marvin Jones--WR, Eric Ebron--TE


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