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Week 1 Game Recap: New York Giants 3, Dallas Cowboys 19

What you need to know

New York Giants

Shane Vereen showed he still has a presence in the passing game on Sunday night as he racked up 9 receptions from Manning. The Giants offensive line was pathetic in both run&pass blocking which led to an unbalanced offense. Vereen could be the better fantasy play over Perkins in games where the Giants struggle and are forced to pass but they are inconsistencies across the board right now for the Giants so everything comes with risk.

Brandon Marshall was invisible on Sunday night and may need Beckham across him to really come to life. Fans must be careful not to overreact to one game but Marshall really accomplished nothing on the outside. Manning targeted Lewis/Sheppard and even Engram a more often than Marshall, fantasy owners tread carefully.

Eli Manning played poorly and did not play well for most of 2016 either. Age is rumoured to be a big factor but his offensive line is not giving him much of an opportunity, it is difficult to judge the Giants offense under Manning at this current time.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas needed little on offense to win comfortably against their divisional rival Giants in Week 1. While they moved the ball at will in the middle of the field, stalling for field goals regularly is an area of concern against more potent offensive opponents going forward. Dak Prescott struggled with accuracy on a number of throws, especially in Dez Bryant’s direction. The defense looks improved, particularly in the front seven, which is a positive sign for Dallas’ game script in most games. Ezekiel Elliott, Jason Witten, and Cole Beasley form one of the best chain-moving trios in the NFL to sustain drives, highlight players this week for the Cowboys.

New York Giants

QB Eli Manning, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 38 - 220 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0
Eli Manning did not play well on Sunday night in Dallas but he had very little support, especially from his offensive line. The Cowboys did not blitz the Giants much and were able to get consistent pressure by only sending 4 men. This gave Manning and his receivers a hard time in the passing game. The much maligned Giants offensive line was as porous as ever and Manning had to rush through his progressions a lot. He failed to find open receivers a lot of the time and this offense seemed lost without Beckham as the focal point. The offense went 3 and out a lot and were rarely in Cowboy territory. Mannings accuracy was also inconsistent and generally poor, he missed many open receivers over the middle. He threw behind Marshall on a slant play over the middle and did not give his receivers much room to work with after having to adjust to some off target balls. Manning rarely had the time to look downfield and the Giants attempted few deep balls. His interception came on a bad decision to threw into a tight window on a slant route as the Cowboy defender undercut the route. The Giants were very rarely in the redzone and the entire passing game got a lot of garbage yards on the final drive when the game was effectively over. Manning has to get better protection from his offensive line and he needs to improve his accuracy if this Giants offense is to show any life this season.

RB Shane Vereen, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 51 - 0 (10 targets)
Shane Vereen was the leading receiver for the Giants in terms of receptions and was salvagable in PPR leagues but this performance was as a result of many checkdown passes. The Giants were not able to throw downfield much in this game and thus Vereen got his hands on many quick outs from Manning when he was under fire. Vereen often had little or no room to work with after the catch as the Cowboys played 7 in coverage for most of thiis game. Vereen did his best, using his quickness in screen passes and flat passes to get as many yards after the catch as possible. His hands looked solid and very dependable. He was critical for Manning in the passing game as his offensive line was giving up quick pressure too easily, leading to quick throws to avoid sacks. Vereen never got much attention in the redzone and was not a threat to score but the entire Giants offense was lackluster on Sunday. He was more involved in the passing game than any other back as is his usual role, so could be a decent play in PPR leagues only if you are in a tight spot but nothing more.

RB Paul Perkins, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 16 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets)
Paul Perkins and the entire Giants offense never got into any semblance of rhythm on Sunday and they were forced to abandon the running game into the second half. The Giants offensive line was a disaster and they became one dimensional which really hurt the fantasy potential of Perkins. Perkins was not as involved in the passing game as Vereen, who is clearly the favourite back in obvious passing situations. The offense had no balance and the Cowboy defense did not let the Giants establish any sort of running game. He ran inside for the most part and tried to pick gaps in the front 7 but rarely had any effective plays. The Cowboys swarmed to the ball well and he only had one redzone rush attempt. A truely abysmal performance for the Giants offense, hopefully the unit can rebound and breathe life into players like Perkins.

WR Sterling Shepard, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 7 - 44 - 0 (8 targets)
Shepard managed 7 grabs to salvage something in PPR leagues for fantasy owners who played him but really struggled to pose a threat to the Cowboys. The Giants offensive line was on life support Sunday, struggling to give their QB any time in the pocket to survey the field. This obviously hurt the production of guys like Shepard. Shepard had to settle often for short balls that Manning had to fire his direction when the defense was breathing down his neck. Shepard was good at turning flat routes and very short balls into decent gains after-the catch with his quickness. He caught many balls in traffic and secured passes that were thrown into very tight windows, which will continue to instill the Giants confidence in the young receiver. He is not capable of carrying an offense, especially not one as fragile as the Giants currently are unfortunately. Still, he was targeted more often than Marshall and deserves to be rated higher until we see otherwise.

WR Roger Lewis, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 0 (6 targets)
Roger Lewis was able to provide a small bit of excitement for the Giants on a 22 yard pick up down the sideline after he briefly broke free but it wasn't enough to rescue his team from the anaemic Giants offensive on Sunday night. He got his hands on quick plays inside also and was able to pick up several first downs to keep the Giants on the field which was a positive contribution to his team. Lewis is known for downfield plays but is unfortunately buried under more well known talent, though nobody can knock his heart on the field. Lewis could be a risky but decent/desperate play as a number 3 receiver in PPR leagues if Beckham misses any more time but should definitely be left on the waiver wire otherwise.

WR Brandon Marshall, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (4 targets)
Brandon Marshall's debut as a Giant was a complete dud as the veteran reciver didn't register a catch until the final drive. Manning rarely threw his direction throughout the game as the Giants offensive line was woeful blocking for their Quarterback. Marshall was targeted on a few throws but he could just not connect with Manning. His accuracy was scattershot due to the pressure he was facing and missed Marshall on several throws. Marshall was clearly open on a few plays over the middle but the pass was usually thrown behind him. These plays were relatively short however and would not have contributed much on their own, even if caught. He finally got a catch at the end of the game but this was in garbage time as the Cowboys played off coverage to give up the quick pass.

TE Evan Engram, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (5 targets)
Evan Engram was not a factor in this game but it is unfair to expect much from a rookie in that environment. The passing game for the Giants lacked any real power or consistency and was downright pitiful at times. Engram worked underneath routes for the most part and got his hands on a few balls despite his Quarterback struggling. Engram got some looks on drag/out and patterns over the middle that he was able to haul in a few balls. He had a short catch negated by an illegal offensive penalty from another player. Engram got open down the sideline for one play and looked good securing the pass down the field for the Giants biggest play of the night. Engram will have much better opportunities to showcase his athletic talent, this was just not one of those games. The Giants still lack a presence over the middle and Manning will look to the rookie to see if he can fill that role.

Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 39 - 268 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 24 - 0
While Prescott gets credit for the win, his game was up-and-down against the Giants. Little was required of the passing game outside of a few third down conversions due to the Giants’ offensive futility. However, Prescott accuracy waned on bigger throws, specifically deep routes and end zone looks to Dez Bryant, resulting in field goals instead of touchdowns on the board. Prescott’s game was not without highlight moments as his deep connection with Brice Butler down the sideline marked one of the better throws of Week 1 for any quarterback. Prescott was situational with his rushing, including a scramble of 15+ yards late in the first half to move into field goal range. Prescott, for such a mobile quarterback, was primarily a rock-and-fire pocket quarterback in this game.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 104 - 0, Rec: 5 - 36 - 0 (5 targets)
With 29 touches Elliott was the central figure of the Dallas offense. Darren McFadden was a surprise inactive after running as the No.2 back for Dallas in the preseason. Alfred Morris rarely saw the field as Elliott dominated snaps against the Giants. It was a slow start for Elliott as he ran into contact for modest gains early on. However, Elliott’s opportunities in space expanded as the game progressed. By late in the second quarter Elliott’s physical running style – and Dallas’ sheer volume of plays in the first half – took their toll and Elliott’s rate of breaking tackles increased. Elliott logged three straight chunk gains as the first half concluded and punished the Giants in the second half as Dallas began to milk the clock. Elliott did not see any optimal looks for the touchdown in the game as Dallas’ lone drive to the goal line ended with three straight targets in Dez Bryant’s direction, a notable change from Elliott’s typical chances to churn into the end zone a year ago in those situations.

RB Alfred Morris, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 1 - 0
With Darren McFadden a surprise inactive against the Giants, Morris was the clear No.2 back to Ezekiel Elliott. While Morris did not make an impact on his low volume of snaps, the depth chart shift is a notable change from the preseason if Elliott should begin serving a suspension in the coming weeks or miss time by injury.

WR Terrance Williams, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 68 - 0 (7 targets)
Williams thrived against secondary coverage of the Giants en route to leading the team in receiving yards (68) in Week 1. Williams converted three key third downs, including two wide open receptions. One was a well-blocked wide receiver screen while the other was a clear-out slant for 20+ where yards-after-the-catch was easily attainable. Brice Butler may prove to be a challenger to Williams’ snaps this season, but Williams excelled in his role opposite Dez Bryant to open the season.

WR Cole Beasley, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (5 targets)
Beasley’s opportunities for impact were limited in the comfortable win over the Giants. However, Beasley converted two key third down plays including the highlight catch of Week 1. Beasley bobbled an out route target, only to corral the pass on his back with one hand as he continued to the out of bounds line. On the other occasion, Beasley pivoted back to the inside after the catch for additional yardage to convert a third down.

WR Dez Bryant, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 43 - 0 (9 targets)
Despite a team-high nine targets, Bryant and Dak Prescott struggled to establish a strong connection against the Giants. Bryant saw three straight end zone targets on a red zone drive, all coming up empty. Bryant also got loose deep only to be missed by Prescott down the sideline. Bryant drew a deep defensive pass interference penalty as well. Only a broken tackle on a slant route for 35 yards prevented Bryant’s game from being a complete bust in the box score. Bryant’s burst and ball skills were present, but the consistent missed opportunities were roadblocks this week.

TE Jason Witten, 74 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 59 - 1 (9 targets)
Witten was the featured chain-mover of the Dallas passing game in Week 1, leading the team in targets and receptions. While Dak Prescott struggled with accuracy in Dez Bryant’s direction in the end zone and downfield, Prescott and Witten were sharp. Witten converted Dallas’ lone touchdown, a too-easy play-action red zone score over the middle on a slant route. Witten’s after-the-catch ability has waned in recent seasons, but his hands and route running are sturdy elements continuing to pay dividends in his twilight years.