Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 5
Giants vs. Panthers
Will Saquon Barkley score 22 points? If so, how will he do it this week?
The first question has an easy answer: Yes, RB Saquon Barkley will probably score 22 points this week, and if he’s under it won’t be by much. Carolina’s defense ranks 20th in the NFL against the pass and 24th against the run by DVOA; even by the predictive model DAVE, their defense’s outlook is 20th for the rest of the season. However, against opposing running backs who are acting as pass catchers, Carolina ranks 9th in the NFL at defending them. We should expect a similar performance to what he did in Week 1 and Week 3, so roughly 90 rushing yards with 3-4 catches for 30 yards.
Will this be the week Odell finds the End Zone?
While Carolina does rank 8th against opposing #1 WRs, I don’t think that really matters against WR Odell Beckham Jr. He’s finished with at least 7 catches in three of the four games played thus far and has surpassed 100 yards twice. Target share also isn’t an issue, as he’s been targeted at least 9 times in every game. The lack of game breaking ability this season is most likely because he hasn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury mentally. Last week we saw a flash of Beckham’s dynamism on an unsuccessful attempt to redirect a play from the left side of the field to the right, but the attempt is more important than the result. If he scores on a big play, it should break that mental block for him.
With Engram ruled out again, is Sterling Shepard a high end WR2?
WR Sterling Shepard has thrived in the absence of TE Evan Engram, finishing the last two weeks with around 80 receiving yards and a touchdown in each game. He’s going up against a Panthers team that’s been great against #2 WRs, but I don’t foresee that cutting into his target share too much. He certainly won’t have the same catch rate as he did last week, but with Barkley and Beckham being the most worrisome red zone threats he’s likely to score again as QB Eli Manning’s second favorite target for the time being.
Will McCaffrey and Newton combine for 120+ rushing yards?
The Giants run defense is bottom five in the NFL. Carolina’s rushing attack ranks #1. LB Olivier Vernon is still sidelined for the Giants, so the hope of an improvement there should not exist. We saw before the bye week that RB Christian McCaffrey can and will be used as a high-volume runner if the situation is ripe for it. QB Cam Newton already has 28 rush attempts through three games, and for fantasy purposes has been frustrating for McCaffrey owners because he vultures all the rushing touchdowns. My combined yardage projection is a bit lofty, as they’ve combined for 108, 79, and 220 through those games, but they’re talented enough to make it happen.
How many passes will McCaffrey catch?
In the first two games, McCaffrey caught 20 passes for 147 yards. In week 3, he only caught two passes. They were running the ball really effectively in week 3, which is the reason the reception total is so low, but if you own McCaffrey and see 194 yards only got you 21.4 points, it just seemed so wrong. I doubt the Panthers give CMC 28 carries again, so expecting a 6-7 catch outing from is probably realistic and will give you a high floor this week.
What about those Panthers receivers?
Oh yeah, forgot the Panthers had other players on the offense aside from McCaffrey and Newton. Honestly, there’s only one worth taking a shot at not named WR Devin Funchess, and that’s WR Torrey Smith. Funchess will matchup against CB Janoris Jenkins, who kept Saints WR Michael Thomas in check last week, but there’s no reason to sit Funchess if you drafted him even with that matchup. As for why I say Torrey Smith is the only one worth taking a shot on, it’s because the Giants rank #28 against all receivers that aren’t the #1 or#2 on a team, and Smith has the speed to burn them on vertical routes. It’s a risky play and is touchdown dependent, but if one of your usual guys is on bye it could be a good move.