Panthers @ Giants
Final Score: Giants 19, Panthers 16
Writer: Ryan McDonough (@RyanTalksFF on Twitter)
There may very well be a point in time that I choose a game that isn’t filled with ugly turnovers, bad clock management, and overall poor coaching decisions. Today was not that day.
In a game that was headlined by two of the top fantasy running backs in Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, those who drafted these two were likely discouraged by the slow starts for both of these guys.
Right from the get go, there was a sense that this was going to be another one of those weird-ugly games, as Chubba Hubbard lost a fumble after fielding the game’s opening kickoff on his own 25 yard line. Despite the obvious momentum that had been gained by this play, the Giants only gained 4 yards and went three and out before Graham Gano hit a 36 yard field goal.
Kicker enthusiasts everywhere likely loved the first half of this matchup as it almost completely consisted of one big play, the offense stalling out, and then the team sending in their kicker to scrounge some points out of the drive. The halftime score was knotted at 6-6, two field goals a side.
Both teams scored their only touchdowns of the day in the third quarter with D.J. Moore and rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger both hauling in scores. The Giants managed to out field goal the Panthers in the final frame to emerge with the 3 point victory (sigh).
Baker Mayfield: 14/29, 145 Yards, TD | 6 Carries, 35 Yards, Fumble
Baker Mayfield is really doing his best out there, he is under constant pressure with receivers that aren’t creating enough separation on their shorter routes for him to dump the ball off before being sacked. It felt as though every time Baker wasn’t getting the ball out on a one step drop, he was running for his life. His lack of protection, combined with absolutely boneheaded play calling from Matt Rhule,may result in Baker’s stint as a starter in Carolina a short one. It is honestly a question of whether the lack of protection or his coaches unwillingness to do what it takes to win does the former number one overall pick in first.
Christian McCaffrey: 15 Carries, 102 Yards | 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 26 Yards
D’Onta Foreman: 2 Carries, 9 Yards
This guy is just simply amazing. McCaffrey simply makes something out of nothing. There are countless instances in the game where the Carolina offensive line gave little to no push, from which CMC broke a tackle or waited for a defender to overcommit one direction so that he could slip the other way. There is no better example of this than when he sprung a 49 yard run with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter to get his team in field goal range and keep them alive in the game. What made this play truly astounding was the fact that CMC allowed for the first wave of giants defenders to show their pursuit before making his cut and exploding down the sideline before eventually being tackled. While I don’t think this style of play is sustainable and the offensive line issue clearly has to be addressed sooner rather than later, it hasn’t completely diminished McCaffrey’s fantasy value…yet. Fantasy owners should be aware of just how bad the blocking has been, especially with #22’s injury history.
One positive for CMC owners could be just how much separation there is between him and the next running back getting touches. Chubba Hubbard likely placed himself in the doghouse after the opening fumble and D’Onta Foreman was the only other back to get touches (2 rushes, 9 yards).
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DJ Moore: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 43 Yards, 1 TD
Robbie Anderson: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 32 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)
Giovanni Ricci: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 16 Yards
Stephen Sullivan: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 13 Yards
Ian Thomas: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 13 Yards
Shi Smith: 6 Targets, 1 Reception, 2 Yards
This just looks scary. In an effort to prevent repetition, please reference previous remarks on the explanation regarding Baker Mayfield’s struggles in this game. If there isn’t enough time to get a throw off, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to throw the ball. DJ Moore and Baker seemed to get things off on the right foot in the third quarter, rattling off both a 29 yard reception and a 16 yard touchdown reception on a smooth corner route. In case you don’t want to do the math, that means that Moore’s only other reception resulted in a 2 yard loss. A lot of Moore’s targets are deceiving here, as they merely came as a result of him being the closest person to Baker’s throwaways while under pressure.
After what looked to be a promising opening weekend, Robbie Anderson didn’t do much to earn more balls coming his way with his performance in Sunday’s game. Things looked especially grim after Anderson had the ball ripped from his arms after being stood up on a quick out route. In an offense where it was already difficult to spread the ball around the field and get much of anything going, you simply can not be turning the ball over in such a manner.
Not a whole lot else to talk about from the other receivers in this game, as none of them had more than one reception.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones: 22/34, 176 Yards, TD | 10 Carries, 21 Yards
In a game that can be summarized by being so ugly that neither team deserved to win, Daniel Jones did just enough to get the New York Football Giants to their first 2-0 start in the past six years. That being said, Jones didn’t look especially sharp in any facet of the game. He appeared to be receiving at least acceptable pass protection on most of his drop backs, but was quick to bail on the pocket and opted to aimlessly roll out and hope that someone would create separation. While the Duke product managed to put together a turnover free game, I wouldn’t go as far to say that he was a net positive player for his squad. A lot of the yards gained by the team came after the catch as a result of being elusive, not by Jones being overly accurate downfield.
Saquon Barkley: 21 Carries, 72 Yards | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 16 Yards
Matt Breida: 1 Carry, -4 Yards | 1 Target
Saquon Barkley on a tight wing pitch might be more bread and butter for the Giants than an inside dive. It honestly feels as though this play never goes for anything less than 5 yards, but often results in some of his longest runs. This was the case today as Barkley sprung free on a 16 yard rush to help put away the visitors. Barkley was kept very quiet through the first half of this game, but managed to put together a solid second half to help his team come away with the win. Though it doesn’t show up on a fantasy stat sheet, Barkley has really solidified himself as one of the games best pass blocking backs, as he did what it took to keep Jones upright on a number of occasions. If he is able to maintain that level of pass pass protection, it only opens Brian Daboll’s playbook up even more. Making it even harder for a team to guess whether Barkley is going to spring out of the backfield on a route, pass block, or fake protection into a slip route make shim even more dangerous than he already is. Watch out for some really creative uses for Barkley as the season progresses because the potential is absolutely there.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Richie James: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 51 Yards
Sterling Shepard: 10 Targets, 6 Receptions, 34 Yards
Daniel Bellinger: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 16 Yards, 1 TD
David Sills V: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 37 Yards
Kadarius Toney: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 0 Yards
In a world where you have a guy by the name of Kadarius Toney, who is the young receiver you should target? That’s right! 2018 7th Round Pick Richie James! In all seriousness, James did find the soft spot in the zone defense that the Panthers were playing on a consistent basis. The 27 year old is unlikely to continue with this level of production, as he probably just serves as the filler for Wan’Dale Robinson until he returns after sitting out this week.
Sterling Shepard continued to demand a large target share, but has his value decimated by the lack of accuracy from his quarterback. There will undoubtedly be a few games where Jones will be able to dial up a deep ball that doesn’t come up short of Shepard as he streaks down the field, but Sunday was not one of those games. Besides Saquon, Sterling is the most reliable weapon for this New York offense.
Shoutout to Daniel Bellinger, who took a cross formation pre-snap motion into a slip route for his first career TD pass. No one should really expect big numbers out of this guy, but a cool moment to see a rookie get his first professional score.