Thursday Night Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Week 16: Ryan Mathews, Jordan Matthews, Eli Manning & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Thursday games are often tricky, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week).  Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups?  Who should be sat down?  Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:


New York Giants

Eli Manning – Quarterback
We all know just how good Manning and the Giants offense has the potential to be, but they continue to fall short.  While he has been throwing for TD, which helps, look at the yardage over the past five games:

  • vs. Chicago – 227
  • at Cleveland – 194
  • at Pittsburgh – 195
  • vs. Dallas – 193
  • vs. Detroit – 201

That’s extremely ugly, and the last time he actually topped 260 yards came all the way back on October 16 (403 against the Ravens).  Is he unusable given the upside?  Absolutely not, but two months worth of mediocrity keeps him from being a QB1.  Consider firing him up as a QB2 and little else.

Rashad Jennings – Running Back
He’s averaging a mere 3.2 yards per carry and, while he did get 18 carries this past week against the Lions, it appears that a changing of the guard is coming.  With his receiving numbers also starting to decline (2 receptions or fewer in three of the past four games), Jennings is quickly becoming a hands off proposition.

Paul Perkins – Running Back
He’s seen 26 carries over the past two weeks, and his performance against Detroit was impressive (56 yards on 11 carries, an average of 5.1 YPC).  While he’s going to continue to share the backfield with Jennings, it’s clear that the team is growing more and more comfortable with the rookie as he brings a potential explosiveness that Jennings lacks.  Considering the consistent struggles of the running game as a whole it’s hard to get overly excited, but if you are desperate for a FLEX play Perkins would be the running back to utilize from New York.

Sterling Shepard – Wide Receiver
The rookie has been solid and is growing into the #2 receiver role, but last week’s 56 yards actually represents his highest mark since Week 3.  He has been consistently finding the end zone (5 TD in the past seven games), and that’s going to put him on the WR3 spectrum.  However he’s a TD dependent option with more bust than boom to his game.  Early in the week, is that a gamble we really want to be taking?  For most he’s a fantasy non-factor.

Will Tye – Tight End
The Giants “top” tight end has 39 receptions for 325 yards and 1 TD on the season.  Is there really a reason to discuss him as an option?

Must Use:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. – Wide Receiver


Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz – Quarterback
The rookie made a splash early in the season, but things have regressed since.  Over his past four games he has 2 TD vs. 6 INT and is coming off a game where he completed just 52.4% of his passes for 170 yards against the Ravens.  The Giants defense has been playing at an extremely high level, and even if Janorius Jenkins is sidelined they have more than enough to continue the trend.  Maybe Wentz makes a few plays, but he’s not a quarterback you are going to want to trust in the majority of formats.

Ryan Mathews – Running Back
With both Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood sidelined Mathews carried the load in Week 15 and delivered with 20 carries, 128 yards and 1 TD against an extremely difficult run defense.  It’s impressive, though the Giants have been even better of late as they’ve allowed the fifth fewest points per week to opposing RB in their past four games.  They would be even better if they hadn’t allowed 206 receiving yards over this span, though that hasn’t been a part of Mathews game (12 receptions for 99 yards on the season).  It’s hard to completely write him off, but he’s more of a RB2/FLEX, at best, given the matchup.

Darren Sproles – Running Back
Set to return this week, he adds questions to the Eagles backfield though he should operate behind Mathews.  A PPR option, the questionable number of opportunities makes him an impossible player to trust.

Jordan Matthews – Wide Receiver
He’s been targeted 10+ times in six of his past seven games, though that doesn’t mean he’s been producing.  Averaging a meager 11.2 yards/catch and mustering just 3 TD, he’s hardly impressed this season.  Sure you can argue that he’s the team’s “best” receiver, though Zach Ertz is definitely the better option for fantasy owners.  Nothing more than a WR3, Matthews is hard to trust.

Must Use

  • Zach Ertz – Tight End

Sources – ESPN,

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