Fantasy Football Start or Sit Week 1: New York Giants Running Backs


Fantasy football season is finally upon us. Things will get going tonight when the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots kickoff in prime time for opening night. That will only be the start of the fun for fantasy football owners, as there will be plenty of more action to pay attention to during Week 1.

One of the more intriguing games from a fantasy football perspective is the matchup between NFC East division rival New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. The two teams will be facing off on Sunday Night Football to open the season, and should deliver plenty of fireworks Week 1. Both teams have plenty of question marks defensively, making this a matchup to target for fantasy football owners.

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While big name players such as Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will undoubtedly be locked into lineups, there is still more value to be had in this game. One of the places to find more sneaky value in Week 1 could come from the Giants running back group.

Last season, this was an underwhelming group. Rashad Jennings couldn’t get healthy, Andre Williams plodded through a rookie year and there wasn’t much else. The Giants lacked explosiveness out of their running backs and a player for Manning to rely on during passing downs. Insert former Patriot running back Shane Vereen.

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Vereen is as good as they come for passing down running backs. He is excellent in pass protection and excels catching the ball out of the backfield as well. He could even run pass routes as a receiver, helping the Giants out in the slot as Victor Cruz recovers from his patellar tendon surgery and calf injury. The multi-dimensional and versatile Vereen should have a big role in this Giants offense right from the get-go, working on third downs, passing situations and two-minute drills.

But, Vereen won’t get much work on early downs, there Jennings and Williams should shine. Jennings is a very capable back in passing situations as well, but his healthy makes it hard for him to be counted on, so the Giants brought in some insurance. He will have an early down role, and should he be hot during a game, should get some work in the passing game as well.

As for Williams, he is a banger. He should get goal line work, making him relevant in all fantasy football leagues for the scoring potential he brings. He struggled as a rookie, plodding his way to 721 yards and only 3.3 yards per carry. He has almost no impact in the passing game, so if he is on the field more often than not the Giants are running the ball. He has been working diligently on his vision and hands in the offseason, so if he can develop he could take reps away from Jennings.

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With how the roles look to be set now, it may be tough to rely on Jennings and Williams against the Cowboys. Last season, the Cowboys allowed 103.1 yards per game, seventh best in the NFL. That is a rather stout defense, something the Giants witnessed first hand twice last year, as the Giants managed only 193 yards on 58 carries, equaling an ugly 3.3 yards per carry.

With the current state of the Giants, it could be more of the same Sunday night. The Giants will have to keep up offensively with the high octane Cowboys offense, which could mean them going to the air early and often. If that is the case, Vereen will see the best chance to produce being the main passing down back.

Game flow will determine the effectiveness and production of the Giants backfield throughout the season. While gameflow is tough to predict pregame, an educated guess for Sunday night is that the Giants and Cowboys will be in a shootout.

With that being the prediction, Vereen is the safest of the three Giants running backs to start in fantasy. He is a very strong FLEX play, and should even flirt with RB2 production. As for Williams and Jennings, both are shaky FLEX plays. Of those two, Williams holds a slight advantage because he should get the first chance to score in goal line situations, something that could happen often in what should be a high scoring affair between the Giants and Cowboys.

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