Thursday Night Football: Fantasy Takeaways

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Below are a handful of fantasy football takeaways from yesterday’s Thursday Night affair: 

Heinicke – McLaurin In Full Force 

Terry McLaurin somewhat disappointed fantasy owners in week one, only catching four balls for 62 yards. The former Ohio State Buckeye was drafted in fantasy this year to headline a receiving core and that, despite not being a poor line, wasn’t a great start to the season. 

McLaurin and now WFT starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke looked completely in sync on Thursday night, however. Heinicke looked for McLaurin early and often, targeting him 14 total times in the contest. “Scary Terry” hauled in 11 of those passes for 107 yards and he scored, too. 

It seems like the connection and rapport between these two has been established to the point that McLaurin can be a WR1 in fantasy as long as Heinicke is at the helm. A receiver as talented as McLaurin with this workload is almost always going to produce at a high level, so expect high-end production from him moving forward. 

Saquon’s Struggles Continue

Saquon Barkley is an immensely talented, generational type running back that’s capable of winning you weeks with his explosiveness on the field. 

We haven’t seen anything close to that type of player over the first few two weeks of the 2021 season, as Barkley has 96 total yards on 26 attempts. He is recovering from an ACL injury, but the main problem here is the New York Giants’ horrific offensive line. There’s rarely ever any running room for Barkley and a large chunk of his 57 rushing yards last night came on a 41-yard breakaway run in the first quarter. He’s also not getting much passing work, seeing just three total targets on Thursday night. 

The question now becomes what should fantasy owners do with Barkley. You certainly had to invest heavy early round capital on him during your drafts, which makes it nearly impossible to bench him from a roster construction standpoint. But, as things stand right now, you’re not getting any sort of positive production from keeping Barkley in your lineup. 

Barkley’s certainly an enigma and there’s an argument to be made for both sides of what to do with him. You could hold him and hope he balls out for your team next week against Atlanta and then in week five against Dallas, but the Giants also square up against the Saints, Rams, and Panthers before their bye week – all of which are quality defensive fronts. Trading him on name value alone, if you can, might be your best bet at the moment. 

J.D. McKissic…

Much like he was last year, J.D. McKissic was heavily involved in the Football Team’s offensive script when they were forced to throw the ball. He saw six targets, catching five of them, and amassed 83 total receiving yards. His one drop was on a difficult, tight-windowed wheel route play where McKissic nearly made an unbelievable grab regardless. He also scored a touchdown on the ground, despite totaling just 10 rushing yards. 

If you’re not in a PPR league, just stop reading this right now. McKissic offers little value in standard formats because all of his work comes via the passing game. It’s clear to me, however, that the Washington Football Team values what he can do as a pass catcher and sees him as a key piece to their offense. 

This obviously also ties into the overall fantasy value of Antonio Gibson, who came into the year as a high draft pick because of the expectation that he’d be the team’s three down back. He still out-snapped McKissic, but Gibson saw just 13 carries and two total targets in this game, totaling 73 yards. 

Even though Gibson led the Football Team in targets last week with five, it does seem like McKissic will be increasingly involved in the offense after his performance last night. That certainly raises his stand alone value in PPR leagues as a FLEX play and does cause Gibson’s potential RB1 value to take a hit. 

Does Daniel Jones Have Fantasy Value?

Maybe it’s just because he was playing against Washington, but New York Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones balled out on Thursday night. 

Jones completed 22-of-32 passes for 249 passing yards and a touchdown through the air. He should’ve had at least 40 more passing yards and another score, but Darius Slayton decided to drop a wide open touchdown in the end zone. Jones also added 95 yards rushing, and a touchdown, on nine carries. 

The question now becomes: does Daniel Jones have standalone fantasy value? 

And as crazy as this sounds, the answer is yeah, he probably does. 

Fantasy football isn’t about how good you are on the field, but more so what kind of numbers you can put up in a given opportunity. Jones checks a lot of boxes for being a productive fantasy quarterback even though most people would agree he’s not actually a good NFL quarterback. 

To begin with, Jones plays on a poor team that’s often in negative game scripts, causing him to throw the ball more often than not. He’s also a capable athlete out of the pocket and he’s able to create plays with his legs, further raising the floor of his overall fantasy production. 

I’m not ever going to advocate for starting Jones in a tough matchup against New Orleans or the Rams, two teams he plays in the next few weeks, but streaming him against Dallas, Washington, and other friendlier matchups certainly isn’t a bad idea. 

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