Last updated: October 10th at 4:35pm ET.
Team Totals: Patriots 29, Giants 13
Weather Update: As of Wednesday afternoon, Thursday night’s forecast in Foxboro called for 18-20 MPH winds with gusts reaching 34 MPH and a 90% chance of precipitation. I’m not typically a worrier about weather, but I’m willing to use it to break lineup-decision ties. At sportsbooks, the total on this game has fallen from 46.5 at open to 42 and 42.5. And the Giants’ team total has barely moved despite several critical offensive absences.
Even amid several skill-position injuries we’ll get to momentarily, Daniel Jones’ biggest Week 6 concern is the swinging-gate blind-side play of high-priced Giants LT Nate Solder, whom PFF has charged with the NFL’s third-most sacks (4) and fourth-most QB hurries (13) allowed among 69 qualified offensive tackles. Solder will try to gut out an ankle injury on a short week. The Pats lead the NFL in sacks (24) and QB hits (40) after getting multiple sacks from eight different defenders in Weeks 1-5. As the G-Men have allowed the NFL’s fourth-most QB hits (37) and Jones has five turnovers in three starts, New England’s fantasy D/ST should continue to be fired up aggressively. Jones is a risky two-QB-league play. … The Giants are trying to hurry back Saquon Barkley (high ankle sprain) to face a Patriots defense that’s held enemy backs to 79/276/0 (3.49 YPC) rushing and 41.2 receiving yards per game despite constantly forcing opponents to play from behind. With no positive data points beyond his talent and projected workload, Barkley will be a high-risk if volume-driven fringe RB1 should Giants doctors give him the green light. If not, the Giants’ lead back will be UDFA rookie Jonathan Hilliman with short-yardage pounder Elijhaa Penny in relief after Wayne Gallman was concussed in last week’s loss to Minnesota.
Update: Saquon Barkley (ankle), Evan Engram (knee), Sterling Shepard (concussion), and Wayne Gallman (concussion) were all ruled out on Wednesday. Darius Slayton and Golden Tate look like the top-two candidates for Daniel Jones‘ targets on Thursday night. Expect usual blocker Rhett Ellison to be a near-full-time player at tight end. The Patriots’ D/ST should be further upgraded.
Jones’ 2019 target distribution: Sterling Shepard 28; Evan Engram 27; Darius Slayton 12; Gallman 9; Golden Tate and Rhett Ellison 6; Hilliman 2; Cody Latimer 1. … Shepard (concussion) won’t play on a short week, downgrading New York’s three-receiver set to Slayton and Latimer outside with Tate in the slot. … Engram (knee) missed early-week practice, but coach Pat Shurmur called his injury routine “game soreness.” Shepard’s loss raises Engram’s already sky-high target ceiling, while Engram’s matchup will improve if designated Patriots TE stopper Pat Chung (heel) misses another game. … 4.39 burner Slayton has commanded more Air Yards (208) than Engram (150) during Jones’ three starts and is a Week 6 sleeper on opportunity alone. Slayton’s biggest obstacle is Stephon Gilmore’s coverage, although the Patriots may not yet respect the Giants’ fifth-round rookie enough to shadow him for a full game. … Tate complained about his role after returning from suspension for 13 scoreless yards on six targets against the Vikings. Tate indeed replaced Shepard at slot receiver; slot WRs to face the Pats so far are JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/78/0), Cole Beasley (7/75/0), Jakeem Grant (3/22/0), Jamison Crowder (2/25/0), and Trey Quinn (3/15/0). … Latimer’s fantasy appeal is limited entirely to one-game DFS slates.
The Patriots should be the latest team to light the Giants’ nonexistent pass defense aflame after Dak Prescott (QB2), Josh Allen (QB7), Jameis Winston (QB5), and Kirk Cousins (QB9) all dropped top-ten outcomes on the G-Men in Weeks 1-5. With top-14 fantasy results in 4-of-5 starts including three top-seven finishes, Tom Brady is a high-floor, high-ceiling start. … Albeit assisted by positive script, Sony Michel took a big Week 5 step with season highs in snaps (49%), rushing yards (91), targets (3), routes run (20), and PPR points (21.3) at Washington. Particularly with Rex Burkhead (foot) doubtful on a short week, Michel should be teed up as a confident RB2 play with RB1 upside against New York, which got (Dalvin) Cooked for 98/493/2 (5.03 YPC) rushing by enemy backs in its last four games. Any passing-game involvement is a massive boon to Michel’s outlook. He drew one target in New England’s first four games. Lead back on a team favored by over two touchdowns at home, Michel offers legit 20-touch potential on Thursday night. … James White also capitalized on Burkhead’s absence, handling a season-high 12 touches and tying Julian Edelman for the team lead in targets (9). Banged up at inside linebacker with Ryan Connelly (ACL) on I.R. and Alec Ogletree trying to battle back from a multi-week hamstring injury, the Giants have allowed the NFL’s eighth-most receiving yards to enemy backs (254).
Brady’s target distribution: Julian Edelman 41; Josh Gordon 35; White 30; Phillip Dorsett 23; Burkhead 18; Matt LaCosse and Jakobi Meyers 6; Ryan Izzo 5; Michel and Brandon Bolden 4. … Edelman should be able to do whatever he wants on Thursday night; opponents are 22-of-29 (75.9%) for 317 yards (10.9 YPA) and three TDs when targeting the Giants’ slot coverage. Edelman is running a very-nice 69% of his routes inside. … Positive-touchdown regression should soon hit Gordon, who Brady narrowly overthrew for a would-be 65-yard score in last week’s first quarter. Gordon is tied with Edelman for the team lead in targets (26) and leads the Patriots in Air Yards (244) over the last three weeks. The Giants have been pounded by perimeter WRs Mike Evans (8/190/3), Michael Gallup (7/158/0), Adam Thielen (7/130/2), Amari Cooper (6/106/1), and John Brown (7/72/0). Gordon is also popping as Week 6’s No. 3 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … With Dorsett (hamstring) sidelined, UDFA rookie Meyers is a sleeper on one-game DFS slates based on this matchup and a projected spike in opportunity as New England’s probable No. 3 wideout against the G-Men. … The Patriots could also enlist more two-tight end sets with LaCosse and Izzo on the field together. LaCosse played miserably in last week’s win at Washington – dropping a pass and managing 22 scoreless yards – but he logged 94% of New England’s snaps and saw four targets. Izzo is normally a blocker but has efficiently caught 4-of-5 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown this year. The Patriots never did activate Ben Watson, then cut him on Monday.
Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Giants 13