Takeaways From Thursday Night: A Resurgent Eli Manning, DeSean Jackson Disappears & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was an important Thursday night game on many levels, including a concussion to Niles Paul causing him to leave in the first half.  His availability for Week 5 is definitely in question, so if you are an owner start planning accordingly.  What are the other important notes?  Here are five things I’m taking away from the action:


1) Eli Manning appears to have gotten a grasp of the new offense…
It was a significant question throughout the preseason, as Manning and the offense in general struggled to get rolling.  However, it easily could’ve just been a matter of time after playing so long (and winning a pair of Super Bowls) in the old system.

Manning tore apart the Redskins last night, going 28-for-39 (71.8%) for 300 yards, 4 TD and 1 INT and even had a 1 yard rushing TD.  The interception was hardly his fault, as it was actually a completed pass in the end zone that Ruben Randle had knocked out of his grasp.  Manning has now thrown 8 TD over the past three weeks, averaging 270.3 yards per game in the process.

With the NFC East’s defenses hardly imposing (the Eagles have allowed the second most points to opposing QB, the Redskins the fourth most and the Cowboys’ 14th most), the upside is going to be there for continued success.  Obviously we wouldn’t dial him up as a QB1 on a weekly basis, at least not yet, but it actually is not unreasonable at this point to think that he’s a viable option.  When the Giants said they wanted to complete 70% of their passes we all laughed, but they are at 70.8% over the past three weeks and Manning is looking like a perfect fit for the system.   If he’s still available, he’s worth grabbing.


2) On the other hand, Kirk Cousins doesn’t look quite as good…
We cautioned everyone not to simply pencil him into your starting lineups last night and he ultimately had a disastrous evening.  Cousins completed just 19 of 33 attempts, going for 257 yards, 1 TD and 4 INT (as well as losing a fumble).  The majority of his completions went to tight ends and running backs, as Pierre Garcon led the way for the receiving corps with just 2 receptions for 28 yards and Andre Roberts lone catch was a TD (we’ll get to DeSean Jackson later on).

In other words this feels like a repeat performance from 2013, when Cousins starred one week only to collapse the next two.  With the Seahawks on the schedule in Week 5, does anyone think Cousins is going to be a must start option?  This is a prime example of why we don’t get too excited off of one performance, especially one against an Eagles defense that has struggled against opposing QB.  Don’t write off Robert Griffin III either, as it’s no certainty that he doesn’t regain his starting job.


3) Larry Donnell is for real and a must own…
If there was any doubt, Manning and Donnell put it to bed connecting for 3 TD (all in the first half).  Donnell finished with 7 receptions for 54 yards and 3 TD, being targeted 8 times in the process (behind only Victor Cruz & Ruben Randle, who were targeted 10 times apiece).  Obviously we aren’t going to anticipate this type of performance on a weekly basis, but he’s averaging 6.25 receptions and 59 yards per week, coming off of 7.75 targets.  In fact, there’s only been one game where he was targeted fewer than 8 times and he still had 6 in that game.  Donnell’s going to continue to be a vital part of the offense and is a player worth owning if he’s still available for some reason.


4) Don’t read too much into the even split in carries for New York…
Rashad Jennings finished with 13 carries for 55 yards while rookie Andre Williams had 15 carries for 66 yards and 1 TD.  While Williams performed well, we have to remember that this was a short week and Jennings had 34 carries this past Sunday (which he turned into 176 yards and a TD).  That’s a significant workload for any running back, so it makes sense for the Giants to lessen things just four days later.  Don’t be concerned, Jennings is still the clear lead back in New York.


5) Is DeSean Jackson a tough wide receiver to trust…
You could easily say that he’s the epitome of a boom or bust receiver.  Just look at his numbers over the past three weeks:

  • Week 2 – 1 reception for 19 yards (2 targets)
  • Week 3 – 5 receptions for 117 yards and 1 TD (11 targets)
  • Week 4 – 1 reception for 9 yards (4 targets)

Obviously Cousins’ struggles yesterday had a lot to do with the poor numbers, and he’s also batting a shoulder injury which explained his poor Week 2 production (he left in the first quarter and never returned).  Obviously we aren’t going to write him off and assume he can’t produce on a weekly basis, but the offense in general are not going to be recommended heading into Week 5.  Consider him a WR3/4 for now.


Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings:

Buy Low Candidate: Will Vincent Jackson Rebound With Mike Glennon Under Center?
Is Kirk Cousins A Must Start Option Tonight? Not So Quick...

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