Take Two: Sam Bradford vs Eli Manning
October 4, 2013 | Joe Siniscalchi
Before we delve into who we both like for week five, let’s rewind to last week. While my pick of Terrelle Pryor ended up putting up a goose egg (Dennis Allen decided to play it safe and bench him), Ben Roethlisberger put on a nice showing, throwing for nearly 400 yards and a score. Unfortunately, he also had an interception and a fumble as the game came to a close. @AnthonyOlivetti’s guy, Alex Smith, had a much better day, completing 58% of his passes, throwing for nearly 300 yards, with three TDs and a pair of INTs, along with 37 rushing yards. This is the third time this season Smith has posted a game with over 20 points, and although I admitted my skepticism last week, I think it’s time to start taking him seriously as a solid second option in 2QB leagues.
JS: My Candidate For Week 5: Sam Bradford (vs Jax)
After a poor two week stretch for Sam Bradford (that Thursday night game was AWFUL), a silver lining appears to be in sight. The Jaguars are coming off an awful two week period as well, where they allowed a whopping 82 points to the Seahawks and Colts. On the season, they’ve allowed 9 touchdown passes, and have only managed to grab 2 interceptions.
Heading into this week, the Rams are struggling to find their identity. Daryl Richardson, someone who garnered some preseason buzz, has been ineffective, while neither Isaiah Pead nor Zac Stacy have done anything to separate themselves. Through a quarter of the season, we have seen the same old Sam Bradford. He opened the season with a bang against the Cardinals and the Falcons, and then has gotten cold playing the Cowboys and 49ers. He’s struggled consistently utilizing his new weapons in Tavon Austin and Jared Cook, but look for that to change this week. The Jags have been getting smoked, and have allowed for an opposing QB Rating of 103.5.
Given the struggles with the running game, look for the Rams to lean on Sam Bradford to move the ball. Jacksonville has had issues with its secondary unit, and its conceivable that this Rams offense will be firing on all cylinders. While Rodger Saffold may be injured, a poor opposing pash rush could negate the loss.
Bradford is in line for a big rebound this Sunday. Jeff Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer will look to straighten out Bradford in an easy matchup. The Rams spent this past offseason giving Bradford everything he needs; a new line, new wideouts, and a pass catching tight end. Look for the training wheels to begin to come off this week to help build some confidence for him. In most games, its a crapshoot guessing which of Bradford’s weapons will perform well. Sunday, look for just about everyone involved in the offense to play well. Bradford won’t put up 400 yards again unless it’s either domination or the Rams completely suck are playing from way behind, but 350 yards and three TDs is very realistic.
AO: My Candidate For Week 5: Eli Manning (vs Phi)
Looking back at last week Alex Smith clearly worked out well. Unfortunately we’ll never know how Pryor would have done because he was forced to sit out, instead I went up against Big Ben who continued to underwhelm. @Joe_Siniscalchi may be on to something when suggesting that you consider Smith as an every week QB2. He doesn’t have the strongest arm but, he has been solid so far. When it was all said and done I emerged 3-1 at the end of the week.
There is no denying that Eli Manning and the Giants are off to an absolutely awful start. But, not only am I picking Eli as my (newly minted) low-end QB2 to plug into your lineup this week, I’m also picking them to actually win a game for once. The Giants have not only started off 0-4, they’ve actually gotten worse as the season has progressed. After scoring a respectable 54 points through their first two games they’ve managed just seven over their last two. But, I truly believe that they are going to turn around this week. So far they’ve lost three games on the road, certainly not good, but, in football there is actually a homefield advantage (see Russell Wilson). Also factor in that their only home game was over the minute the elder Manning stepped out of bed, and the Giants might not be that bad. They’re not ‘worst team in the league’ bad anyway, they’ve just had the bad luck of starting off with a tough section of their schedule and not playing well on top of it.
Playing at home this week and lining up opposite an Eagles team that has allowed an average of 28.66 points per game so far this season (excluding the 52 point outlier that is the Denver Broncos) bodes well for Eli and the Giants offense. They will finally get back to stringing together drives, scoring points, and eventually even winning a game for the first time this season. It’s a perfect storm for Eli to have a good fantasy day: playing a division game, at home, against a weak defense, and feeling like he has something to prove.
All of those factors should be enough to convince you that Eli is your guy this week. If that’s not enough, consider the receivers that Eli has to throw to, Hakeem Nicks, Reuben Randle, and Victor Cruz, and realize that they are going to eviscerate the Eagles’ secondary. While they tear it up, Eli will rack up the points. Add in that the Giant’s running game has been essentially nonexistent, and that the Eagles offense should also put up a lot of points against an injury plagued Giants defense, and you continue to see that Eli is going to need to throw it a ton against a soft secondary.
Let’s not forget that they’ve played one division game so far this season, against the Cowboys Week 1. Eli managed 450 yards and four touchdowns that night, if not for three picks he would have had a ridiculous fantasy day. Even so, he had a pretty darn good one.
What it comes down to here is the matchup, you can argue all day that the team is 0-4, and that they suck, and that Eli sucks. If nothing else, at least that last part isn’t true, they are 0-4, and maybe they do suck, but Eli Manning most certainly does not. He’ll be on more than a few fantasy owners’ benches this week, and when he goes off (not if) fantasy owners will be kicking themselves.
Look for Eli to eclipse 300 yards on his way to three touchdowns and a turnover.
JS: It’s tough to go against Eli with such a nice matchup, but the man is simply a turnover machine. It’s so tough to trust him even with a great matchup. He can throw three scores, but he can just as easily add three INTs along with it. At first I had believed the Giants team was fixable, but things are looking ugly. The offensive line is horrendous and it has brought the entire offense down. David Wilson has been a dud thus far, and Eli has not played like the same Eli that won the Giants two Super Bowls. While Eli has been playing catchup for the season, causing his yardage totals to rise, he has also been more reckless with the ball, as evidenced by his NFL leading nine interceptions. Hakeem Nicks has looked flat out awful, and the pass catchers as a whole have been plagued with drops.
The Eagles have been awful against both the run and pass, but after getting blown out by Eli’s older brother, I think Chip Kelly will look to make serious adjustments on defense. The Eagles have been able to generate some pressure, registering ten sacks on the year. The Giants have already allowed 14 sacks, including seven to Carolina. If Eli sees pressure, look for this Giant’s offense to continue to struggle.
I do think Eli will put up a solid showing in this game, it’s hard to doubt that, but I do think he will make his typical head scratching plays as well. A similar statline to Bradford is possible here, but turnovers will cost fantasy owners, as I expect him to keep chucking, adding another two picks on the year. 300/2/2 would be an improvement for Eli as he looks to elevate his play.
AO: This isn’t an easy one to argue against. Bradford is going up against the Jaguars which is a seemingly juicy matchup for any quarterback. He isn’t going to throw three picks, he isn’t going to get shut down by a talented defense, and he isn’t going to throw the ball a lot. That last one isn’t a positive. The fact is the Jaguars do suck. As much as the Giants shouldn’t be an 0-4 team, the Jags should be an 0-4 team. They don’t stand a chance.
The downside in all of this is that he won’t need to throw the ball much. Someone like Peyton Manning can go out and shred them with 400 yards and four touchdowns. But, that’s only because he’s capable of doing that while only needing to throw the ball for one half. Bradford can’t, and when they stop, or at least dramatically reduce how many passes he throws as soon as the second half starts fantasy owners are going to be pulling their hair out. They’ll sit on their running game for the entire second half, nothing could be more frustrating.
Bradford isn’t going to have a bad game, he’s just not going to score as many points as Eli. Lower tier quarterbacks thrive in close games, not blowouts. Both good, but, Eli > Bradford. Expect an average performance of 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no turnovers. Good numbers, but just not as good.