Broncos @ Giants
Final Score: Broncos 27, Giants 13
Writer: Josh Kurzer (@jkurzer52 on Twitter)
Giants fans were looking forward to seeing the return of their star RB, Saquon Barkley, as well as the debut of their two new WRs, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. Are they the saviors that this offense needs in order to finally compete for a playoff berth? If Sunday is any indication, the answer is a very emphatic no. New York needs too much help on the offensive line, not to mention their defense had trouble containing Teddy Bridgewater of all people. Denver may have lost Jerry Jeudy for a period of time due to a high ankle sprain, but their offense looks to be improved with the new signal-caller under center. Denver rolled to a 14 point victory.
Teddy Bridgewater: 28/36, 264 yards, 2 TD | 3 carries, 19 yards
After a hard-fought battle through training camp, coach Vic Fangio decided to hand the keys of the offense to the veteran, Teddy Bridgewater. If this game is any indication, he made the right decision. Bridgewater looked sharp from the get-go, hooking up with nine different pass catchers in the first half alone. Bridgewater is known as a game-manager that controls the tempo on offense, not a gunslinger who is going to take shots. In this game, however, Bridgewater zipped a number of throws downfield to open receivers. Although the Giants’ pass rush offered little resistance, they did make the Broncos’ offense one-dimensional. Outside of a 70-yard run by Melvin Gordon in garbage time, they held the Broncos to under 100 rushing yards as a team. It is too early to determine whether or not Bridgewater will maintain this level of play throughout the season, but he does have fantasy value as a streaming option in the short term. The Broncos will face the Jaguars and the Jets in the next two weeks, two soft defenses that Bridgewater should be able to take advantage of.
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/q4XdEDh21D
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 12, 2021
Melvin Gordon III: 11 carries, 101 yards, TD | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 17 yards
Javonte Williams: 14 carries, 45 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, -4 yards
As impressive as Bridgewater looked in this game, the Broncos run game left much to be desired. They ended up rushing for 165 yards as a team, but 70 of those yards came on one play with the game in hand late in the fourth quarter.
Melvin Gordon takes a 70-yard trip to the crib 💨
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 12, 2021
When Melvin Gordon’s explosive touchdown run is taken out of the equation, the Broncos running backs averaged just 3.16 yards per carry in the game. The Giants have a strong run defense that will pose problems for teams throughout the year, so it is no surprise that Denver struggled on the ground in this game. Gordon showed he still has big-play ability with the ball in his hands, but I thought rookie Javonte Williams was the better back for Denver in this game. He seemed to hit holes harder and slip off of tackles easier than Gordon did throughout, and I would expect him to take over the lead-back role as the season goes on.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Jerry Jeudy: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 72 yards
KJ Hamler: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 41 yards
Tim Patrick: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 39 yards, TD
Cortland Sutton: 3 targets, 1 reception, 14 yards
Noah Fant: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 62 yards
Albert Okwuegbunam: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 16 yards, TD, Fumble
Teddy Bridgewater was getting everybody in on the action, with Jerry Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant leading the way with six catches each. The most consequential play for the Broncos wideouts came in the third quarter when Jeudy hurt his ankle after making a 20-yard reception.
#Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy was carted off the field after suffering a bad ankle injury.
Warning: This video is graphic. pic.twitter.com/ze9leuaRRU
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 12, 2021
Lucky for the Broncos, X-rays came back negative. Right now the injury is being ruled a high-ankle sprain. If Jeudy were to miss time, both K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick would see an uptick in opportunity, but Fant would become Bridgewater’s undisputed number one target. Even if Jeudy doesn’t miss time, his long-term outlook is fine if he misses a game or two with an ankle sprain. In 2020 Jeudy finished with 12 drops, second-most of all receivers. He did not drop any passes today, and if that trend continues he should have WR2 upside the rest of the season.
Fant looked the part of the leading pass catcher for his team, hauling in six catches for 62 yards on a team-leading eight targets. We rated Fant as TE8 heading into the season and I would expect him to see a nice bump in the rankings, especially if Jeudy is to miss time with an ankle sprain. Fant was wide open all day, finding soft spots in the Giants defense and making them pay. Fant now has just six touchdowns in 32 NFL games. Some may say this is a sign to stay away from the young tight end, but I believe he is due for positive regression and will have a breakout season. The tight end that did score for Denver was backup Albert Okwuegbunam, finding the end zone on a two-yard pass from Bridgewater. Aside from his score, Okwuegbunam was not too active and should not be looked at as a viable fantasy option.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones: 22/37, 267 yards, TD, 2 Sacks | 6 carries, 27 yards, TD, Fumble (Lost)
Danny Dimes did about the best he could in this game. Even though he spent most of the game running for his life, he kept his eyes down the field and ended up throwing for 267 yards. His best throw of the game came in the first quarter when he connected with Darius Slayton for a 42-yard bomb on the third play of the game.
Daniel Jones DEEP to Darius Slayton on a free play! pic.twitter.com/BcsxAXTN0p
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 12, 2021
Jones also showed he can get it done with his legs, running for 27 yards and a garbage-time touchdown. Jones’ biggest mistake came in the third quarter when he fumbled the ball trying to pick up some extra yards.
Daniel Jones now has 40 career turnovers.pic.twitter.com/C5UzXak3FK
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 12, 2021
The fumble was his 30th in 27 starts. Jones shows value as a streamer in deeper leagues and a back-end QB2 in two-quarterback leagues.
Saquon Barkley: 10 carries, 26 yards | 3 targets, 1 reception, 1 yard
Devontae Booker: 4 carries, 7 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
Saquon Barkley’s much-anticipated return to action was rather underwhelming. He carried the ball just 10 times, with his longest run going for just five yards on his first touch of the game. Giants coach Joe Judge likely wanted to ease Barkley back into action and avoid an injury in the first game of the season. Barkley did not do much in the game, but he had almost nothing to work with. The Giants’ offensive line was getting blown off the ball all game, with Barkley being hit in the backfield on the majority of his touches. Saquon’s raw talent gives him fantasy value, but I would be surprised to see him finish the season any better than a mid-level RB2.
Free-agent signing Devontae Booker did not do much of anything either and holds no fantasy value. Even if Barkley were to go down, it is unlikely Booker would be able to handle a majority of the load and provide production behind this offensive line.
Nice one handed snag by Devontae Booker 😮
— Overtime (@overtime) September 12, 2021
Devontae booker knows how to chip DE’s pic.twitter.com/4tnBtYSCsr
— Phil Phenom Contini (@Phenomm__) September 12, 2021
Sterling Shepard: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 112 yards, TD
Darius Slayton: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 65 yards
Kenny Golladay: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 64 yards
Kadairus Toney: 2 targets, 2 receptions, -2 yards
Kyle Rudolph: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards
Sterling Shepard was one of the lone bright spots for the Giants in their loss to the Broncos. He was getting open all over the field. Jones found him over the middle, outside the numbers, for plays big and small. Much talk was made about free agent signing Kenny Golladay and first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney, but the six-year Giant, Shepard, has held them both off to earn the number one receiver role for the team thus far. The Giants’ offense may not be good enough to support more than one fantasy option, and Shepard seems to be that guy. If he stays healthy, he can be a WR2 the rest of the season.
Darius Slayton is starting to look like a one-trick pony, someone who can take the top off but does not offer much versatility in his role as a receiver. Toney had a quiet NFL debut, but the Giants moved him around and used him in multiple ways. Golladay needs time to settle into a new offense, but I suspect he will be challenging Shepard for that number one role as he gets his feet underneath him.
The Giants brought Kyle Rudolph in over the offseason to sure up the tight end position, and he did not do much in the passing game today. He caught just two of his five targets and finished the game with eight receiving yards. It will be interesting to see how the Giants use him when Evan Engram returns to the lineup, he will likely be blocking a lot more. The days of Kyle Rudolph as an elite tight-end streaming option appear to have come to an end.
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
— Josh Kurzer (@jkurzer52 on Twitter)