Kickoff: Sunday, September 11th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Betting Odds: TEN -5.5, 43.5 total via Oddsshark
New York Giants
Daniel Jones (Sit, QB2)
It’s been mostly positive news coming out of Giants’ camp this year surrounding Daniel Jones and Jones performed well in his two preseason games completing 20 of 26 passes for 185 yards and still has the legs to pad his fantasy stats on the ground. The arrival of Brian Daboll has created a renewed sense of excitement for the development of Jones after Daboll transformed Josh Allen from a good QB to one of the best in the game. Unfortunately for Jones, the Titans are returning 10 of their 11 starters from last year, a season where their defense was one of the best in the NFL. Tennessee allowed just two 300-yard passers last season and held five opponents under 200 passing yards. The Giants have a mostly lackluster receiving corps, which will hamper Jones’s fantasy outlook this season. I’m taking a “wait and see” approach to Jones this season, but think he’s an easy fade this week against a formidable Tennessee defense.
Saquon Barkley (Start, RB1), Matt Breida (Sit)
Despite being just four years removed from 2018, it seems like a lifetime ago when talking about Saquon Barkley. Barkley entered the NFL and made an immediate impact with over 2,000 combined yards and 15 TDs. Barkley has barely eclipsed those yardage totals in the last three years combined as injuries and poor offensive line play contributed to Barkley’s fantasy decline. Entering 2022, however, Barkley is 100% healthy and is far and away the team’s best player on offense. The Giants drafted monster tackle Evan Neal to help shore up the offensive line, and PFF has the Giants as an average offensive line at #18 heading into the season. If nothing else, Barkley should get plenty of touches and he’s shown the ability in the past to turn a routine play into an extraordinary gain. The biggest concern is whether his rookie season was the exception or the rule. I see Barkley getting enough volume to allow him to sneak into the bottom of the RB1 tier this week and he should be starting for your fantasy team.
Matt Breida is Barkley’s backup this season but doesn’t bring nearly the skill set to the position Barkley does. Breida has had success in the past, but the Giants are hopeful he’s no more than a minor part of the offense. Fantasy managers can safely avoid him as long as Barkley remains healthy.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepherd (Sit All), Daniel Bellinger (Sit)
I mentioned above how lackluster the Giants receivers are as a group, and that list of names above is probably hard to read if you’re a Giants fan. Let’s start with Kadarius Toney. A former first-round pick, Toney has all the athletic ability to be a star in the NFL as evidenced by his stat line from Weeks 4 and 5 last year in which he had 16 receptions for 167 yards on 22 targets. Toney just had trouble staying on the field as injuries cost him seven games last season and he battled some minor injuries throughout the preseason this year. Toney is reportedly healthy for Week 1, but he’s simply too risky to trust this week. EDIT: Evan Silva is reporting that the team has lost trust in Toney and is currently fourth on the depth chart behind Golladay, Robinson, and Shepherd.
Perhaps one of the bigger surprises from Giants’ camp has been the ascension of Wan’Dale Robinson from undersized rookie to starting WR. Robinson, all 5-foot-8-inches and 185 pounds of him, finds himself as the starting slot receiver over veterans Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton. Robinson did not have good stats in the preseason but saw enough targets for us to know the Giants want to get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways. It’s too early to declare Robinson as a startable fantasy asset, but he’s definitely a good bench stash if you have the space.
Shepard has been dealing with an Achilles injury throughout the preseason but has declared he’s “ready to go” for the team’s matchup against the Titans. Shepard has been a consistent component for the Giants since entering the league in 2016 but has seemingly always been on the cusp of fantasy relevance. Shepherd figures to be playing limited snaps this week as he continues to work his way back to 100% and not much is expected from the passing game anyways. Like Robinson, Shepard might be worth a bench stash with the oft-injured Toney and Golladay still a part of New York’s passing attack, and Shepard might be one play away from a significant part of a passing game that should improve as the season progresses. EDIT: It is being reported that Shepherd will start on the outside opposite Golladay with Robinson in the slot. This doesn’t move the needle a ton and I wouldn’t change his status for this week, but wanted to make sure it was addressed.
Golladay falls firmly into the “cheaper to keep him” category as he carries a cap hit of $25.4 million if released and preseason reports have been less than glowing about his performance. The team is either trying to make a point to the veteran WR or really doesn’t know what Golladay brings to the table this year as he saw 51 preseason snaps – the most of any WR on the team. Of those 51 snaps, Golladay mustered one catch for six yards and dropped a sure TD in the first game. Here is what some in the media are saying about Golladay:
- Minimal separation.
- Limited explosion.
- Sloppy routes.
- He has been running routes this summer with the stiffness of a mannequin
Former #1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson didn’t hold back either:
I understand he’s tall, he’s long. Yeah, yeah. I get it. He catches 50-50 balls, but I can’t help you. If he doesn’t know how to play by now, nothing I can do for him.
Despite the lofty salary and presence on the team’s depth chart, Golladay doesn’t look like a player who will be providing anything of value on the field. He’s a hard player to even recommend stashing and he certainly isn’t worth starting on your fantasy team this week.
The Giants appear to have found another weapon to add to their passing game with fourth-round rookie TE Daniel Bellinger. Bellinger is an athlete in the Dawson Knox mold testing in the 94th percentile in the broad jump and 83rd in the 40-yard dash, and Knox was a major component in Daboll’s offense in Buffalo. A concussion suffered in the team’s final preseason game put his status for Week 1 in doubt but all signs seem to be pointing to Bellinger starting. Again, don’t expect big things from New York’s passing game this week, but Bellinger could be an intriguing option later this season if the passing game evolves as many expect under Daboll.
Ryan Tannehill (Sit)
Fun fact: Ryan Tannehill carries the largest cap hit in the NFL at a staggering $38.6 million this season. Tannehill is a fine NFL QB but has seen a steady decline in his performance since taking over the QB duties for Tennessee in 2019. Tannehill finished last season with his lowest yards per game (219.6), fewest passing TDs (21), most INTs (14), and lowest passer rating (88.1) since joining the team – and that was without All-World RB Derrick Henry for much of the season. The loss of A.J. Brown also can’t be understated, all of which points to Tannehill being a fantasy liability perhaps for much of the season. The Titans are near touchdown favorites at home and are expected to continue their run-heavy approach against an apparently overmatched Giants team. Tannehill might provide fantasy-relevant weeks, but predicting when is a recipe for disaster. It’s best to keep him on your bench this week.
Derrick Henry (Start, RB1), Dontrell Hilliard (Sit)
All hail the king! Derrick Henry was on a torrid pace last season through the first half of the season totaling 937 rushing yards and 10 TDs while chipping in 18 receptions for 154 yards before fracturing his foot in Tennessee’s Week 9 victory over the Colts. The injury sidelined Henry for the rest of the regular season, but he was able to return for the team’s playoff loss to the Bengals. Henry’s insane workload (900 carries over the past three seasons) scared off some fantasy managers last season in a move that looked like a terrible decision before the injury. The big question heading into this season has to be whether the injury is a harbinger of things to come or simply a bad break. Only time will be able to answer that question, but Henry will continue to be the focal point of the offense and should continue to produce at an elite level. Henry is a must-start in all formats this week.
Much like Barkley above, Dontrell Hilliard is simply a backup to Henry but did start in his absence for most of last season. Hilliard was respectable (350 yards and two TDs in seven games with 19 receptions for 87 yards) but doesn’t bring enough to the table with a healthy Henry to carry any fantasy appeal.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Robert Woods (Start, low-end WR3/FLEX), Treylon Burks (Sit), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (Sit), Austin Hooper (Sit)
Gone are A.J. Brown’s 109 targets from last season, and the primary beneficiary seems to be first-year Titan Robert Woods. Woods is on his third team for his 10th NFL season but steps immediately into the #1 WR role for the Titans. Woods suffered an ACL tear in November last season, but all signs point to him starting Week 1 and he should quickly become a favorite target for Tannehill. Woods has consistently been viewed as a solid WR2 in the fantasy community, but the move to a passing offense with a low volume dampens those expectations some. Add that to the fact Woods has been a mainstay on the injury report throughout his career and it’s hard to get excited about Woods as much more than a WR3 or FLEX option for Week 1.
Early reports out of Titans camp all but pegged rookie Treylon Burks as a bust. Burks struggled with conditioning on the first day of camp, exiting practice after just 20 minutes. Since that inauspicious debut, however, reports about Burks have been positive to glowing. Former Titan Jason McCourty tabbed Burks as his pick for Rookie of the Year and ESPN’s Dan Graziano opined Burks might lead all rookie WRs in receptions. The only thing we know for sure is Burks will be the starting slot receiver for the Titans when they take the field on Sunday. It’s hard to get too excited about a rookie WR in a run-heavy offense, but there is a path for Burks to become a viable fantasy asset this season. I just don’t think that path begins this week and I’d sit Burks until he shows he can contribute when the lights come on.
Julio Jones was the big name alongside A.J. Brown at the beginning of last season, but Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is the only returning starting WR on the roster as we head into 2022. Westbrook-Ikhine didn’t set the world on fire with his performance, but he did enough to get the attention of the coaching staff and impressed enough in the offseason to earn a starting outside WR spot. Again, the Titans are one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL so it’s hard to get excited about the likely second or third option in the passing game, but Westbrook-Ikhine should see targets in line with the latter part of 2021 in which he averaged five targets per game. Westbrook-Ikhine isn’t start-worthy in Week 1 for sure, but if NWI looks like he’s the preferred option over Woods or Burks he could garner more attention in future weeks.
After being one of the highest-paid TEs in the NFL, Austin Hooper has seen a stark decline in his fantasy stock. Back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances with the Falcons in 2018 and 2019 led to a nice contract with the Browns but he underperformed relative to his Atlanta days and was subsequently cut by Cleveland. Hooper goes from one run-dominant team to another and the expectations for Hooper are tempered, probably rightfully so. Can Tennessee incorporate the TE position like they did in 2020 when the TEs combined for 94 receptions, 967 yards, and 12 TDs? Maybe, but recent history suggests that will be hard to achieve and, as such, it’s an easy “sit” for Hooper this week.