Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Giants-Patriots

Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Giants-Patriots article feature image

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sony Michel, James White

  • Sean Koerner is here to help you make your Thursday Night Football fantasy start/sit decisions.
  • See which New York Giants and New England Patriots players are must-plays (or stay aways).

There’s more strategy to Thursday Night Football fantasy sit/start decisions than people realize.

The No. 1 rule? Don’t use your Flex spot (if you can). It offers you flexibility come Sunday, so blocking the utility of this lineup spot on TNF only hurts you.

Now let’s run through whether to start or sit key fantasy players tonight. For more specific sit/start decisions, you can use my updated rankings.


Tom Brady, Patriots

Brady is once again an extreme high-floor QB1 with a ceiling that’s capped by the potential of a blowout. The Giants ruling out Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram lowers the chances of their offense being able to put up enough points to keep Brady’s foot on the gas for all four quarters.

Another factor that will impact Brady is the weather. The forecast calls for rain and strong winds (gusts up to 30 mph), which could force the Pats to implement a much more conservative game plan with an emphasis on the running game.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium.
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady

We can still expect a 260- to 270-yard and two-touchdown game from Brady, so he deserves a start here. Check out my updated rankings once we have a better sense of the weather in case I do end up having it push him outside of the top 10 (though that’s unlikely).

Daniel Jones, Giants

This is nearly an impossible spot for Jones, who faces the league’s top defense that has yet to allow a passing touchdown this season, will be without three of his favorite targets and faces potential inclement weather.

He’s my lowest-ranked QB this week and his only path to fantasy value will be with his legs. I’m calling him a must-bench this week, but I am betting one of his props.

Running Backs

Sony Michel, James White; Patriots

Rex Burkhead is set to miss tonight’s game, meaning we’ll see most of his usage absorbed by Michel and White.

This sets up as a perfect Michel game, making him a solid RB2 this week. We finally saw him get involved in the passing game last week, managing three grabs against the Redskins. The needle is pointing up for Michel as long as Burkhead remains on the shelf.

While this isn’t an ideal White spot, we have to wonder if the weather will lend itself to Brady taking fewer risks and being more willing to get the ball to White more as a result. I’m treating him as a high-floor, low-ceiling backend RB2 tonight.

If you have a sit/start decision involving White, I’d put it this way: If you’re a pretty solid favorite this week, start him (in place of a back like Devonta Freeman). If you’re a decent sized underdog, go with a RB with more upside (someone like Kenyan Drake).

Jonathan Hilliman, Elijhaa Penny, Austin Walter; Giants

This is ideally a situation you’d want to avoid, but with four teams on bye, you might be in a bind and have no other choice.

Hilliman will draw the start and has the best chance to put up a useful score. He’ll also be facing that Pats defense when they’re in try-hard mode. Still, he’s nothing more than a low-end RB3/Flex.

Elijhaa Penny
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Elijhaa Penny

Penny is a 245-pound bowling ball and a blocking fullback who can handle five to 10 touches if needed. I would expect him to get any goal-line carries the Giants offense might get, although I wouldn’t count on any tonight.

Walter is likely going to the pass-catching back who could see some work in garbage time. He’s not in-play for any season-long leagues, but might be worth a lottery ticket flier in one-game DFS slates (if he’s available).

Wide Receivers

Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Jakobi Meyers; Patriots

Edelman is a no-brainer start as usual.

Gordon can be treated as a low-end WR2 who might have a lower floor than usual tonight. I would think if the windy conditions were to negatively impact the passing game, it would mostly impact the deep ball and Gordon. It’s worth checking where he stands in my updated rankings closer to kickoff, once we have a better sense of the conditions.

Jakobi Meyers
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jakobi Meyers

Meyers is set to take Philip Dorsett’s place in the starting lineup, though he’s nothing more than a flier in the deepest of leagues. I’m expecting two to three catches for around 35 yards. He’s certainly the type of player we need to pay more attention to in one-game DFS slates — I like his floor/ceiling upside at his price on those slates tonight.

Golden Tate, Darius Slayton; Giants

Bill Belichick typically schemes his defense to stop the best player on the other team. Well, tonight it might be tough to figure out who that is exactly, but my guess is that these two WRs are set up to benefit the most from all the skill players ruled out, making them the main focus of the Pats defense.

I’m treating Tate as a volume-based Flex play and Slayton as a heavy bye-week dart throw. He’s certainly their best red-zone target. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be many passing yards or touchdowns to go around to get too excited about either WR and would hope you have better options.

Tight Ends

Ryan Izzo, Matt LaCosse; Patriots

The good news for these TEs is the Patriots decided to cut Ben Watson after he returned from his four-game suspension, indicating that the Pats liked enough of what they saw from Izzo and LaCosse to rely on them going forward.

The bad news is we can’t bank on either for steady production tonight. They’re not start-able in season-long leagues, but for one-game DFS slates, I would lean toward LaCosse as a flier. He played 94% of the snaps last week and saw four targets. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in a single-game slate, and he certainly has the potential to make an impact.

Rhett Ellison, Garrett Dickerson; Giants

Another TE situation worth avoiding in season-long formats.

Ellison is likely to start for the injured Engram and will likely be the main target in one-game slates. Dickerson really is the potential upside flier here — he was a fairly solid pass-catching TE at Northwestern. There’s a very real and likely chance he doesn’t even see a target, but with the level of uncertainty around the Giants’ offense, his ceiling could be worth a lottery ticket in a massive single-game contest.

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