Nothing like a heated division rivalry to cap off the first Sunday of the NFL season. And that's just what Sunday night football provides as the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants. The contest has a lot of question marks lead up to it. How will Ezekiel Elliot perform under his pending suspension? Will Odell Beckham Jr play? How is Jason Witten still in the NFL? It should be an entertaining game with immediate NFC East implications.
Cowboys Impact Fantasy Players
In 2016 the Giants ranked a mediocre 23rd in passing defense but only allowed 15 passing touchdowns. That was good for second in the league. Dak Prescott is consistent but represents a middling fantasy option with Ezekiel Elliot back for the game.
Elliot is still battling the NFL to have his six game suspension reduced but will be playing week one either way. That means he's a must start RB1, even against a stout Giants front seven.
In their two contests last year, the Giants held Dez Bryant to two catches for 18 yards combined. With a reliance on the run game and an effective Giants defensive game plan, Dez looks more like a WR2 or Flex play than a WR1 in this matchup.
Beasley was remarkably consistent last year, catching between four and six balls in 13 of his 17 games. He's a low upside flex candidate in PPR and bench warmer in standard scoring.
Jason Witten is still going. And while his plodding run style and limited red zone targets (only 4 last year) mean there's little upside to starting him, he provides a solid floor as a TE2. Hopefully you have a better TE1, but you could do worse.
Giants Impact Fantasy Players
Coming off a down year as a fantasy quarterback, Manning looks to bounce back with new weapons. Dallas is a below average passing defense but Manning remains a middling QB2. Look elsewhere.
Odell Beckham Jr.
A scary looking injury in the second preseason game leaves Beckham Jr. with an iffy ankle and an uncertain status for week one. The team is hopeful he will play but Beckham will likely carry a questionable tag into the Sunday night game leaving fantasy players in a lurch. Owners will have to weigh the upside of Beckham playing against the downside of a zero point day.
Also injured in the same game, was the team's new wide receiver acquisition, Brandon Marshall. But the injury prognosis looks much better for Marshall and he has declared himself ready for week one. Marshall should put up good numbers in this offense and has additional upside if Beckham Jr. does not play. Consider him a flex or borderline WR2.
Paul Perkins is the starting running back for the Giants, which should afford him ample opportunities. But his pedestrian 4.1 ypc last year and an unimpressive preseason leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It would be advisable to leave him on the bench against last year's best rushing defense.
Engram, as they say, is a specimen. He's 6'3, 240 and runs a 4.40. He is going to be good. But as a rookie tight end, he will likely be used exclusively as a pass catcher and given limited opportunities early. Leave him on the bench…for now.