Monday Night Football

Cincinnati @ NY Giants
Vegas Projected Score: Giants 24.25, Bengals 22.75

Andy Dalton returns from the Bengals’ Week 9 bye for a road trip to MetLife Stadium, where the Giants’ underrated pass defense has allowed just one top-12 fantasy quarterback finish through eight games and has soared to No. 10 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings fueled by one of the NFL’s most talented secondaries. Still, Dalton has posted QB6 and QB11 fantasy finishes since Tyler Eifert returned from injury two games ago, significantly upgrading Cincinnati’s red-zone offense. Albeit not overly exciting, Dalton is a passable low-end QB1 play in season-long leagues. Due to their inability to run the ball and cobble together sustained drives, the Giants are hemorrhaging play volume, allowing enemy offenses to fire off a league-high 71.8 plays per game. … Nothing in particular stands out about this matchup to differentiate Giovani Bernard from Jeremy Hill. The Giants are 14th in receptions permitted to backs (42) and 13th in run-defense DVOA. Gio has mostly been a floor play without spiked-week potential, having reached 100 total yards in 1-of-8 games and scored a touchdown in 3-of-8. Bernard’s target totals (2, 1) have taken a hit since Eifert returned. More of a boom-bust RB2/flex, Hill has scored in 4-of-8 games and cleared 100 yards from scrimmage once while being held under 60 yards in 4-of-8. 

Dalton’s targets in Eifert’s Week 8 return to a full-time role: A.J. Green 18; Eifert 12; Tyler Boyd 7; Brandon LaFell 2; Gio and Hill 1. … Green leads the NFL in catches (59) and the AFC in receiving yards (896) and is an elite season-long WR1 play every week. It should still be noted that the Giants’ stud boundary corners have been mostly tough on perimeter wideouts, notably checking Jordy Nelson (4-38-1), Stefon Diggs (5-47-0), Kenny Britt (3-43-0), and Dez Bryant (1-8-0) but also giving up useful weeks to Mike Wallace (4-97-0), DeSean Jackson (5-96-1), and Davante Adams (5-85-1). I’m viewing this as an average to slightly above-average matchup for Green. … The best place to attack the Giants is in the middle of the field, where Rams tight ends hit them for 8-59 in Week 7 and Eagles tight ends totaled 11-152 against the G-Men last week, including Zach Ertz’s slump-busting 8-97 line. Outside of Green and Odell Beckham, Eifert is the highest-ceiling play on the board in this game. … A sneaky Week 10 dart throw is rookie slot man Boyd, who drew seven targets in the Bengals’ pre-bye tie with the Redskins and played a season-high 82% of the snaps. The Giants have been hit by slot men Jordan Matthews (6-88), Tavon Austin (10-57-1), Randall Cobb (9-108), Cole Beasley (8-65), Willie Snead (5-54-1), and Jamison Crowder (4-78-1). Boyd looks like a better bet for production at this point than nominal No. 2 wideout LaFell.

Eli Manning has been one of fantasy football’s toughest quarterbacks to forecast in a Jekyll & Hyde Giants offense that is neutered by its utter inability to run the ball but maintains explosive potential in the passing game. Still, Eli’s Monday night matchup is favorable on paper against a sub-par Bengals pass defense that ranks No. 24 in DVOA and 23rd in sacks (16) and has allowed top-13 fantasy finishes to six of its last seven quarterbacks faced, including the QB6 week to Kirk Cousins in Cincinnati’s pre-bye tie with Washington. As he returns from a four-touchdown game, it feels like we’re just chasing box scores with Eli at this point, but there are certainly some Week 10 reasons to buy in. One Giants loss we can’t ignore is LG Justin Pugh (MCL), who would have been tasked with blocking ferocious Bengals DT Geno Atkins. … In games not against the Cowboys, the Bengals have held enemy backs to a combined 132-461-3 (3.49 YPC) rushing line. Pugh’s loss will especially sting in the running game, where he earned Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 run-blocking grade among 77 qualified guards in the first half of the season. In their Week 9 win over the Eagles, the Giants used Rashad Jennings (14 touches, 58% snaps) and Paul Perkins (14 touches, 34%) in a near-even timeshare and weeded out Bobby Rainey (0, 8%). Due to the Giants’ unsuccessful running game as a whole and so many negative external factors, this is best viewed as a fantasy situation to avoid. Out of all the options, Perkins does look like the best bet for a big play. 

Eli’s Week 9 targets coming off the Giants’ bye: Odell Beckham 10; Will Tye 7; Sterling Shepard 6; Jerell Adams 4; Jennings and Perkins 3; Roger Lewis 2; Victor Cruz 1. … The G-Men emerged from the off week shuttling Beckham around the formation more than usual, including using him in the slot. Although the Eagles prevented him from busting big plays beyond a 26-yard slant OBJ took to the house, Beckham delivered in the box score and drew nine-plus targets for the seventh straight game. We are obviously dealing in small sample sizes here, but Beckham has paid dividends in all four of his home games (8-86-0, 7-121-0, 8-222-2, 4-46-2) this season. … Shepard caught one of Eli’s four Week 9 touchdowns from 32 yards out, but the rookie slot receiver hasn’t topped 50 yards since Week 3 and is primarily running routes close to the line of scrimmage, which caps Shepard’s yardage ceiling. Just four of Shepard’s 34 grabs this season have occurred 20-plus yards downfield. Shepard would need to rack up high catch totals in order to compensate for that, but he hasn’t topped five receptions in a game since Week 2. With that said, Shepard would become a more attractive WR3/flex option if Cruz (ankle) misses this game. … The Bengals’ tight end defense has been porous over their last three games, surrendering 14-192-1 to Redskins tight ends in Week 8, 6-66 on 7 targets to Gary Barnidge in Week 7, and 12-210-1 to Patriots tight ends in Week 6. Playing 72% of the snaps and finishing second on the team in targets, Tye took over as the Giants’ primary tight end in last week’s win over Philadelphia with mistake-prone Larry Donnell benched. Tye has let us down before in prime streamer spots, but this is another game where he warrants at least some consideration. Like Shepard, Tye’s outlook would improve if Cruz can’t play. 

Score Prediction: Bengals 28, Giants 24

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