Monday Night Football: New York Giants (1-5) at Atlanta Falcons (2-4)
What to Watch For:
You won’t see another game between teams with worse records but involves so many dynamic playmakers. The Falcons will be without RB Devonta Freeman who was placed on IR earlier in the week, but this game still features a handful of the most explosive players in the National Football League.
The Giants are loaded with weapons. WR Odell Beckham Jr. is the headliner, has been arguably the most explosive player in football since being drafted in 2014. RB Saquon Barkley is taking the league by storm after being the 2nd overall selection in this year’s draft. They will also have 2017 breakout TE Evan Engram back this week, but none of them or what they’ve done this year has translated into team wins. A woeful offensive line and a defense that can’t make a key stop has tormented this team thus far. Atlanta has struggled on defense this season, so the opportunity to score will be there. It will be up to Eli Manning to get the ball to his playmakers down the field.
The Falcons have benefited from a bounceback season from 2016 MVP Matt Ryan, but the defense is far from what we saw in that 2016 run that led to a Super Bowl appearance. Devastated by injury, the Falcons have let games slip away late that could end up being the difference between a wild card spot and taking early vacations in January. The pass rush of the Falcons will likely be the difference should Atlanta win tonight. The offensive line of the Giants has been pushed back into the pocket of Eli Manning repeatedly this season, and Vic Beasley will be primed to make an impressive impact in tonight’s game.
Prediction: Falcons win 30-24.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
I’m really going out on a limb here. But I think Beckham is going to take John Mara’s words, “I wish he’d (Beckham) do a little less talking, and a little more playing,” to heart and explode on the field. Will that turn into a team win? I don’t believe so, but wins and losses don’t mean anything for fantasy. It doesn’t hurt that Julio Jones is on the other sideline and he’d obviously love to put on a show on Monday Night Football and out-perform Jones; in a friendly way, of course. It doesn’t hurt that the Falcons allow the 4th most fantasy points to opposing WRs with 30.3 points per game.
WR Calvin Ridley
On the other side, the Giants have the capabilities to limit Julio Jones. With corner Janoris Jenkins and S Landon Collins over the top, they have the ingredients to really slow down the playmaking ability of Jones. The downside to this, that’ll spring the door wide open for Ridley on the other side of the field. He’s slowed down a bit after his explosion onto the scene earlier in the year when he recorded 6 TDs in a 3-game stretch; but tonight should present the perfect opportunity with all the attention likely focused on Jones’ side of the field.
RB Tevin Coleman
Coleman has been extremely underwhelming in replacing injured Devonta Freeman this season. RB Ito Smith seems to get most of the goal-line carries and Coleman hasn’t been his dynamic self out of the backfield. The Giants have been fairly good at stopping the run thus far this year. They are susceptible to receiving backs which Coleman surely is, but Coleman has not been playing like his normal self, so I see the Giants being able to contain him. Most of the Falcons’ damage will be done through the air tonight, especially through Calvin Ridley.
TE Evan Engram
Engram will be playing in his first game since injuring his knee Week 3 in Houston. I don’t believe he is going to have a major impact as the Giants will ease him back into action. Let Odell and Saquon handle the load while Engram fully recovers and gets used to game speed again. The Falcons have been pretty good allowing just 8.2 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. In a game where I believe Beckham will prove most dominant for the Giants’ offense, I think it’s a good night to leave Engram alone. Considering it’s Monday night, hopefully you’ve already played your tight end, if not, Austin Hooper is available in 21.6% of ESPN leagues.