Normally Tuesday is a light day in terms of news in the National Football League. However, heading into Week 13, the final week of the regular season in most standard fantasy leagues, it was an extremely busy news day. There will be an unexpected quarterback change in New York, and it’s not the team you were thinking. As such, there are a ton of fantasy ramifications with the change. The quarterback news out of New York wasn’t the only news involving signal callers. Oakland’s Michael Crabtree and Denver’s Aqib Talib also had their suspensions for a fracas in Week 12 reduced from two games to one game. Let’s get started.
The New York Giants announced that Eli Manning has been benched for Week 13, and that will end his streak of 210 consecutive starts. His streak was the second-longest in NFL history behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre‘s 297 straight starts. Head coach Ben McAdoo turns to Geno Smith to try and run the offense, and that sends shockwaves through the rest of the roster in terms of fantasy production. Evan Engram had been tailing off in recent weeks, plagued by drops. For a four-week stretch, Manning made the rookie into a TE1 in most fantasy leagues with 21 receptions, 243 yards and a touchdown in four consecutive outings. However, as quickly as he emerged, he has disappeared.
Engram became the first rookie tight end since the AFL/NFL merger to post more than 400 receiving yards and at least four touchdowns through his first eight games. Over the past two games Engram has just four grabs for 27 yards on 13 targets, posting a couple of key drops in a Thanksgiving night loss at Washington. Two of his drops last Thursday were on third down, and would have kept offensive drives alive for his ‘old’ quarterback Manning and the offense. As special as his season has been, he also has nine drops this season, which is the most among all NFL tight ends.
So can Engram be trusted to right the ship, or has he hit a rookie wall? He obviously takes a hit in fantasy value with a two-time Super Bowl MVP sitting on the bench, while error-prone Geno Smith steps in under center. The same problems that supposedly haunted Manning are likely to haunt Smith as well. The offensive line has been in shambles and Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t walking through that door, at least until 2018. There just won’t be time to throw the ball down the field, so perhaps Engram and the running backs, particularly Wayne Gallman and Shane Vereen, see more receptions on short routes to help Smith out. Engram should see his usual handful of catches, but the yardage totals are likely to take a hit. The biggest losers in terms of fantasy value will be the wide receivers.
Sterling Shepard hasn’t been able to play the past two games due to migraine headaches. The team has been trying to figure out the root of the issue, but being 2-9 in the standings likely isn’t high motivation. It’s uncertain if he’ll be able to play in Week 13, but he has had a few more days to rest since the team played last Thursday. Tavarres King, Roger Lewis and Travis Rudolph would be the top three receivers again if Shepard is forced to sit for a third straight game, and that isn’t likely to help Smith much, either. It will, however, likely mean double-digit targets for a guy like Engram. He seems to at least hang onto his same fantasy value as a low-end TE1, but he might be the only New York Giants’ offensive player worth retaining on a fantasy roster at this point.
The Oakland Raiders’ defenders are likely licking their chops, as Smith has been error-prone in the past. They’re not a terrible streaming option if your primary defensive unit has a difficult matchup against a high-octane offensive unit. Smith isn’t likely to turn things around, and he might simply be keeping the seat warm for supposed quarterback of the future Davis Webb. It’s a sudden end to the Eli Manning Era for Big Blue, and a disappointing end for a guy who brought the organization so much success in recent years.
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Jimmy Eat World
The Jimmy Garoppolo Era will officially start in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears. C.J. Beathard left last weekend’s game in Arizona late in the fourth quarter due a lower leg bruise. With 67 seconds left in a game that was already decided, Garoppolo was thrust into action cold off the bench. On his first play he ran for a first down. With no time remaining on the clock, he fired a touchdown strike to Louis Murphy Jr. in the left corner of the end zone. It was San Francisco’s only touchdown drive of the afternoon, by the way.
So is Garoppolo worth starting in fantasy leagues this week? Well, no. He is still the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers with a very limited receiver corps. The Bears are so-so against the pass, ranking 12th in the NFL with 215.8 yards per game with 14 touchdowns allowed through 11 games. They have yielded 27 pass plays of 20 or more yards, but in standard play Garoppolo is still a QB2 at best. He might be worth a look as a low-priced option in DFS, however. The biggest winner is likely to be Marquise Goodwin, who should see an increase in production with an NFL-caliber quarterback back under center again. He is a solid WR4 in all fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams.
Quick Hits: In other quarterback news, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Blaine Gabbert could be the team’s starting quarterback in 2018. He apparently has liked what he has seen from the former first-round pick. Gabbert has averaged 249.0 yards per game in his two starts while tossing five touchdowns with three interceptions and splitting with a 1-1 record. … Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Tuesday he would bench Tom Savage if the signal caller continues to turn the ball over. T.J. Yates is the backup with Deshaun Watson (knee) done for the season. … New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles gave Josh McCown a vote of confidence, telling the media that the veteran is his team’s quarterback. McCown is 1-5 over his past six starts, but he has thrown 14 touchdowns with just five interceptions over his past seven outings with two rushing touchdowns. Of all the problems for the Jets, McCown certainly isn’t one of them. … With Crabtree suspended for one game, and Amari Cooper in the concussion protocol, the team promoted Isaac Whitney from the practice squad. Derek Carr could really be scraping the bottom of the barrel in Week 13, with Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts and Johnny Holton as the top three options. … A couple of weeks ago Tre McBride looked like a guy who could make an impact on the field for the Chicago Bears. Now, he’ll have to try and find work elsewhere, as the team cut him. … Jordan Reed (hamstring) was unable to practice for a second straight day Tuesday, and it appears he’ll be inactive for a fifth consecutive game. Vernon Davis should shine against the Cowboys on Thursday night. … JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) has a chance to play in Week 13, but he is a risky play since his official injury designation won’t be known until Saturday since the team plays Monday in Cincinnati. If he is deemed a game-time decision, avoid him for this week, too.
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