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A divisional rivalry between the New York Giants at the Washington Football Team kicked off Week 2 of the 2021 season in style.
There was a multitude of questions heading into Thursday night’s game. Could QB Daniel Jones redeem himself after yet another turnover in Week 1? Is Taylor Heinicke going to step up as a productive backup for Washington and keep the playmakers fantasy-relevant? Will Saquon Barkley further upset managers after a disappointing start to the season?
Even though the NFC East has been the butt end of many jokes, the second Thursday night football matchup was competitive and came right down to the wire in an epic, nail-biting fashion.
Maybe it’s the fans, maybe it’s the need for redemption, but this season so far has been thrilling.
Daniel Jones Protects the Football
If there is a team that could allow Jones to have a get-right game, it’s the Washington Football Team. In his three years in the NFL, Jones was 4-0 against Washington despite questionable play. The biggest issue for Jones has been his trouble protecting the football. Since entering the NFL, he has thrown 22 interceptions and fumbled 30 times, including a costly fumble last week that arguably cost them the game against the Broncos.
Despite the shaky start to the season, Jones did a considerably better job with zero fumbles and zero interceptions. He was sacked three times, twice in the first quarter, but managed to pull himself together enough to finish with 22 completions on 32 attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown after finishing the first half with eight completions on 11 attempts for 65 yards.
WR Sterling Shepard continues to be Jones’ security blanket, seeing nine targets for 94 yards against Washington to finish with 17.5 points in PPR. If Shepard is on waivers, snagging him in PPR formats is an excellent idea.
Despite the loss, Giants fans should be able to see a glimmer of hope when it comes to competing in the NFC East. Jones hasn’t let the fumbles or the interceptions prevent him from rushing nine times for 95 yards or attempting deep bombs to both Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay.
Heinicke Gets His First Win
Head coach Ron Rivera made it clear that despite the injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Washington Football Team was not interested in picking up Cam Newton. Perhaps it’s Newton’s aura that is simply too much for a team to handle, but Rivera was confident in Heinicke as the starter and also with Kyle Allen as the backup.
It’s no surprise that we had questions about Newton heading to Washington considering both Heinicke and Allen are both quarterbacks Rivera coached in Carolina, just like Newton. However, Heinicke proved that he is a capable backup that can get the job done.
It’s almost hard not to, given the talent surrounding him. Namely, Terry McLaurin. He has the nickname “Scary Terry” for a reason. If you can just put the football anywhere near him, it’s likely to end as a completion for either a first down or a touchdown. He finished the night with 11 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown for 27.7 fantasy points. That hopefully gave you a leg-up if you started him in your lineups.
Let’s also not overlook the incredible pass from Heinicke to Ricky Seals-Jones to score a touchdown to take the lead by one with less than five minutes remaining. Even though the Giants came back with a field goal to take the lead, a special team's faux pas allowed kicker Dustin Hopkins to kick a second field goal to take the win with time expiring.
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Saquon Barkley Makes Fantasy Managers Sweat
A lot of managers may be hovering over the panic button when it comes to Saquon Barkley. The first two weeks of the 2021 season haven’t been inspiring. However, it’s important to remember that this is a historically long season and Barkley is coming off of a season-ending injury barely a year ago.
He finished the night with 13 carries for 57 yards and saw two targets for only 12 yards. It was a paltry 8.9 points, but it is not time to freak out just yet. When it comes to start or sit options for Barkley, he may be a sit over the next few weeks if you have a running back who has a better matchup. However, I don’t believe that will be the case later in the season. If you don’t want to deal with the drama, wait until he has an amazing game and then trade him away at his highest value. NOT BEFORE.
The NFC East will once again prove to be a close race to the finish line. Unlike 2020, this division has the potential to give us fans and fantasy managers some incredible finishes and players to keep a close on as the season progresses.
Several Saints assistant coaches tested positive for COVID-19 as well as Michael Thomas. He remains on the PUP list and it should not affect Sunday’s matchup against the Panthers. … Browns WR Odell Beckham has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a knee injury. … Ravens RB Devonta Freeman was activated from the practice squad. RB Le’Veon Bell was not activated. … The 49ers added RB Trenton Cannon to their practice squad after Raheem Mostert announced he will be out for the rest of the season with a knee surgery. … Patriots TE Jonnu Smith was listed on the injury report with a hip injury. … Raiders RB Josh Jacobs was not participating in practice Wednesday or Thursday with an ankle and toe injury. … Dolphins WR Will Fuller was not at practice after serving his one-game suspension from 2020. … Jets have activated WR Jamison Crowder.