The football gods must really not have appreciated that trip to Miami before last year's playoff game against the Packers, because nothing has gone right for the Giants since.

After season-ending leg injuries to Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris — and a less severe one for Sterling Shepard — the Giants wide receiver group went from a who's who to a who's that?

Things are so bad that cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walked out and is suspended indefinitely. Just left. Poof. What is this, little league?

Sigh. Back to the fantasy implications.

Usually, when one guy goes down in fantasy, it presents an opportunity for another. We saw it just last week when Green Bay's Aaron Jones stepped in for Ty Montgomery and ran for 125 yards against the Cowboys.

The Giants' situation is somewhat different, though there is still a chance for fantasy players to benefit.

Shepard did not practice again on Thursday and seems unlikely to play on Sunday night in Denver. This leaves Roger Lewis and his 30 career receptions as Eli Manning's new No. 1 wide receiver.

Behind him on the depth chart is …

*Travis Rudolph, who had a strong preseason and was called up from the practice squad.

*Ed Eagan, who also was called up from the practice squad.

*Tavarres King, who has been cut six times in his NFL career, including a few weeks ago by the Giants. He was signed off the street.

"They know what they're doing," Manning said of his new best friends. "(Some of them) were just here a few weeks ago, so they'll be ready."

Yeah, OK.

Even though he's hurt, Shepard holds the highest fantasy value, though none of these guys should be in active lineups against Denver's defense, ranked 11th against the pass. Buying low on Shepard now as a possible WR3 is an intriguing gamble for down the line.

After this week, the Giants host Seattle (7th in pass defense) and the Rams (10th), before a couple of favorable fantasy matchups at San Francisco (26th) and home with Kansas City (25th). Shane Vereen would be worth a look as a flex in PPR leagues, especially when there are bye-week crunches.

"We'll talk," Manning said. "There's always some things you've added in. There's some new plays or different things, but I don't see there being a problem with being on the same page."

Sure. It's the Giants. What could go wrong?

Trade bait

Not buying the Adrian Peterson hype after his trade to Arizona. He was having trouble getting onto the field ahead of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara in New Orleans and the Cardinals' offensive line is a disaster. Peterson is 32-and-a-half years old and is averaging 2.4 yards per attempt over the last two seasons.

Would much rather spend transaction money on Washington's Semaje Perine or San Fran's Matt Breida.

Feeling uptight

The first five weeks have been rough for just about every tight end not named Zach Ertz.

Rob Gronkowski's late scratch last week hurt a number of fantasy owners and now this week Travis Kelce is dealing with a concussion. With Kansas City playing at 4 p.m. Sunday, a Plan B is crucial.

Hunter Henry, Jared Cook and, for those extremely desperate, AJ Derby are among those playing late on Sunday who could be last-minute fill-ins if Kelce is deactivated.

Position watch

Quarterback: Tom Brady has been sacked 16 times and now reportedly has a sprained AC joint in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. It's the most he's been sacked in the opening five games since he was dropped 13 times in 2015 (and 2003). A victory on Sunday at the Jets would be No. 187 for Brady. He's currently tied for the all-time regular-season lead with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning … Remember the preseason notion that the Dolphins might be better off with Jay Cutler instead of Ryan Tannehill? Cutler has three touchdowns and three interceptions for the season and his passing yardage has dropped in each of the first four games (230, 220, 164, 92). That's not easy to do.

Running back:  Kareem Hunt needs 159 total yards to surpass Eric Dickerson's record for most by a rookie through six games. Hunt is at 775. Dickerson had 933 through the Rams first five games in 1983 … DeMarco Murray's rushing attempts each week starting with the opener, see if you can figure out the pattern: 12, 9, 14, 7, 14 … Ty Montgomery (ribs) is trending toward playing Sunday at Minnesota, which is second to the Broncos in fewest points allowed to opposing RBs. Don't worry about that, though. If Montgomery is cleared, start him. If he's a little nicked up, start Aaron Jones.

Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt sprinting in the open field has been a familiar sight for early on this season. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong / AP
Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt sprinting in the open field has been a familiar sight for early on this season. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Wide receiver: Time to roll out DeSean Jackson as a WR 2/3 against a Cardinals team that generally covers No. 1 receivers very well, but gets hurt by the secondary players … Quick name-drop here. Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams, the monster out of Cleveland a number of Eagles' fans wanted, should make his debut Sunday. He's been out with a back injury since spring drills … DeVante Parker (ankle) missed practice on Thursday.

Ed Barkowitz, who still can't believe that video of the Dolphins now-former assistant coach, has been writing about fantasy football since 2001.


Quarterbacks, Opp.

  1. Tom Brady, NE at NYJ
  2. Drew Brees, NO vs. Det.
  3. Matt Ryan, Atl. vs. Mia.
  4. Aaron Rodgers, GB at Min.
  5. Alex Smith, KC vs. Pit.
  6. Jameis Winston, TB at Ari.
  7. Carson Wentz, Eagles at Car.
  8. Matthew Stafford, Det. at NO
  9. Cam Newton, Car. vs. Eagles
  10. DeShaun Watson, Hou. vs. Cle.
  11. Kirk Cousins, Was. vs. SF
  12. Philip Rivers, LAC at Oak.

Running backs/PPR, Opp.

  1. Kareem Hunt, KC vs. Pit.
  2. Le'Veon Bell, Pit. at KC
  3. Melvin Gordon, LAC at Oak.
  4. Todd Gurley, LAR at Jac.
  5. Leonard Fournette, Jac. vs. LAR
  6. Devonta Freeman, Atl. vs. Mia.
  7. Jay Ajayi, Mia. at Atl.
  8. Jordan Howard, Chi. at Bal.
  9. Lamar Miller, Hou. vs. Cle.
  10. C.J. Anderson, Den. vs. NYG
  11. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles at Car.
  12. Ty Montgomery, GB at Min.
  13. DeMarco Murray, Ten. vs. Ind.
  14. Doug Martin, TB at Ari.
  15. Semaje Perine, Was. vs. SF
  16. Jerick McKinnon, Min. vs. GB
  17. Marshawn Lynch, Oak. vs. LAC
  18. Alvin Kamara NO vs. Det.
  19. Christian McCaffrey, Car. vs. Eagles
  20. James White, NE at NYJ
  21. Ameer Abdullah, Det. at NO
  22. Mark Ingram, NO vs. Det.
  23. Alex Collins, Bal. vs. Chi.
  24. Duke Johnson, Cle. at Hou.
  25. Elijah McGuire, NYJ vs. NE

Wide receivers/PPR, Opp.

  1. Antonio Brown, Pit. at KC
  2. Julio Jones, Atl. vs. Mia.
  3. Michael Thomas, NO vs. Det.
  4. DeAndre Hopkins, Hou. vs. Cle.
  5. Davante Adams, GB at Min.
  6. Larry Fitzgerald, Ari. vs. TB
  7. Keenan Allen, LAC at Oak.
  8. Jordy Nelson, GB at Min.
  9. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles at Car.
  10. Brandin Cooks, NE at NYJ
  11. Mike Evans, TB at Ari.
  12. Chris Hogan, NE at NYJ
  13. T.Y. Hilton, Ind. at Ten.
  14. Jarvis Landry, Mia. at Atl.
  15. Tyreek Hill, KC vs. Pit.
  16. Demaryius Thomas, Den. vs. NYG
  17. Devin Funchess, Car. vs. Eagles
  18. Michael Crabtree, Oak. vs. LAC
  19. Golden Tate, Det. at NO
  20. Kelvin Benjamin, Car. vs. Eagles
  21. DeSean Jackson, TB at Ari.
  22. Emmanuel Sanders, Den. vs. NYG
  23. Adam Thielen, Min. vs. GB
  24. Amari Cooper, Oak. vs. LAC
  25. Pierre Garcon, SF at Was.

Tight ends, Opp.

  1. Rob Gronkowski, NE at NYJ
  2. Zach Ertz, Eagles at Car.
  3. Travis Kelce, KC vs. Pit.
  4. Jordan Reed, Was. vs. SF
  5. Cameron Brate, TB at Ari.
  6. Kyle Rudolph, Min. vs. GB
  7. Delanie Walker, Ten. vs. Ind.
  8. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ vs. NE
  9. Coby Fleener, NO vs. Det.
  10. Martellus Bennett, GB at Min.
  11. Hunter Henry, LAC at Oak.
  12. Jack Doyle, Ind. at Ten.


This week/ESPN-run leagues

As of Thursday afternoon

  1. Ed Dickson, TE, Carolina
  2. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota
  3. Elijah McGuire, RB, N.Y. Jets
  4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, N.Y. Jets
  5. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans

Not including kickers/defenses