Defenses and Dragons takes a look each week at the key skill players that will go up against the Detroit Lions by comparing their fantasy output to that allowed by the Lions defense. All scoring and rankings use six points per passing touchdown and half a point per reception.
While the Lions and Giants are fighting for playoff positions, most fantasy team are already in the semifinals. Congratulations if you had made it this far, but the next two weeks are sure to be stressful, with every decision of huge importance. Hopefully you were paying attention last week when D&D steered you away from Bears like Jordan Howard. The options this week are only slightly better.
In both real life and fantasy, Eli Manning rarely causes excitement, although he always has his moments. In six of 13 games this season he has topped 20 fantasy points, but some rough performances have put him at just 20th overall at his position. Manning has averaged 253.1 yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game, enough for 18.1 PPG. He is coming off his worst performance of the season, 7.52 points against the Cowboys.
The Lions still rank in the bottom five against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, but this ranking is deceiving. Over the last six weeks they have given up just 12.2 PPG to QB1s, which is almost 10 points lower than their season average. The Lions defense is getting healthier and the Giants offense has had plenty of struggles this year. Manning should be outside of the top 15 this week.
The Giants feature two running backs, Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins. While Jennings has been the leader for most of the season, the two have received almost equal carries during the last two weeks. Jennings has averaged 13.6 carries and 3.6 targets a game this season, good for 64.8 total yards. He has found the end zone only three times, putting him at 9.8 PPG and outside the top 30 at the position.
Meanwhile, Perkins has managed just 6.5 rushes and under 2.0 targets per game, averaging just 38.3 yards each week. He has a lot of talent and is someone New York would like to see more of in the future, but he has yet to score in his rookie season and has had only limited impact. The Giants rank 25th in fantasy running back scoring, while the Lions are the 10th-toughest running back defense. Neither Jennings nor Perkins is a good top-30 play.
Despite the struggles of Manning, the Giants have recorded the ninth-best point total at wide receiver in fantasy this year, and are in the top 10 at WR1, WR2 and WR3 scoring. The main man needs little introduction; Odell Beckham Jr. ranks No. 4 overall and sits at an impressive 15.6 PPG. He has the ability to turn any catch into a touchdown, and he sees a healthy 10.3 targets and 85.3 yards per game. OBJ should be started this, and every other, week.
The second receiving option is Sterling Shepard, another exciting rookie with a lot of potential. He has averaged just under four catches per game this year and has scored six times. His 9.0 PPG puts him just inside the top 50 among fantasy wide receivers. Victor Cruz is probably the third receiver to monitor, but he has averaged just 5.9 PPG this year. His best game of the season was 11.4 points and it happened during Week 1.
Shepard does warrant some consideration, especially given that he has hit double-digits during four of his last six outings. However, he does face a tough matchup this weekend; the Lions are the seventh-best team against WR2s. Shepard is a risky play, but could sneak into the top 30. Cruz should not be touched, even in deep fantasy leagues.
Will Tye has had a mostly forgettable season, scoring just one time all year. He sees 4.1 targets per game and has averaged 4.1 PPG without any notable performances. The Giants have struggled on offense, and the passing game focuses much more on the receivers than the tight end. New York ranks just 29th in TE1 scoring this season.
As always, it should be pointed out that the Lions are 29th against tight ends and 30th against TE1s, so there may be points to be had. But with a healthier linebacker corps and the versatility of Beckham, it seems unlikely that Tye will be a heavy feature in this game. He needs a touchdown to be relevant, and should be avoided in all starting lineups.