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Giants-Commanders Week 7 fantasy outlook: Will Barkley break out?

Barkley is still limited at Giants practice

New York Giants v Buffalo Bills
Saquon Barkley
Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Giants got back one of their only fantasy-relevant players last week, as Saquon Barkley returned to action. Barkley didn’t get into the end zone and didn’t do much in the passing game, posting a decent but somewhat underwhelming 13.80 PPR points in Week 6. Can he break out in Week 7 against the Washington Commanders? Are there any other Giants whom you should consider starting?

Start ‘Em

  • QB Sam Howell: The Giants rank 18th in allowing 17.2 PPR points per game to quarterbacks. Howell ranks as the QB12 in PPR leagues right now, and he’s scored at least 18.3 points in four out of his last five games (the lone outlier was the Bills). He threw three touchdown passes last week against a solid Atlanta pass defense. Although the Giants held Josh Allen to 14.86 PPR points last week, Howell is a solid play, especially in two-QB leagues.
  • RB Saquon Barkley: Barkley’s 93 rushing yards last week came at a lackluster 3.9 yards per carry and were fueled by one 34-yard run. That’s often been Barkley’s MO, though, so it’s not especially concerning. He also had four catches, which was helpful for PPR leagues. The Commanders rank 15th in allowing 18.5 PPR points per game to running backs. Even not at full strength, Barkley appeared shifty enough to be worth a start. He will always be a big part of the Giants’ offense.
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson: Robinson is quite apparently the Giants’ go-to target underneath. While his high-end potential is limited due to the offense’s general futility, he makes enough catches to have value as a WR3/flex in PPR leagues. The Commanders also rank 20th in fantasy points per game allowed to receivers.

Question marks

  • WR Curtis Samuel: Samuel has eclipsed Jahan Dotson as the Commanders’ WR2 despite having nearly the same number of targets for the season. Dotson is on the waiver wire in many leagues, while Samuel has been a recent pickup. He’s scored at least 14 PPR points in three straight games. Still, Terry McLaurin is the Commanders’ No. 1 option, and they spread around the ball to running backs and tight ends, as well. Samuel has appeal mainly in PPR leagues as a flex option.
  • RB Brian Robinson: Robinson scored a touchdown through the air against Atlanta to mask what was otherwise a very pedestrian day. He’s been held to under 3.3 yards per carry in four of his six games this season, and he’s had just 16 carries over the last two weeks. Still, the Giants rank 24th in PPR points allowed to running backs, so he has a chance to do some damage as an RB2 or flex.
  • TE Logan Thomas: After a breakout game against Chicago where he had nine catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, Thomas was held to just one reception for two yards vs. Atlanta. That may have been partly because Howell threw just 23 passes. The Giants rank 18th against tight ends in fantasy, but Thomas has been up-and-down all season. Then again, there are not that many must-start tight ends around the NFL, and Thomas ranks as the No. 14 tight end in PPR leagues. If you’re stuck with a bye week or injury, perhaps he’s worth a shot.

Sit ‘em

  • QB Tyrod Taylor: This is assuming that Daniel Jones isn’t cleared for contact before the game. Taylor showed against Buffalo that he still has at least some gas left in the tank on both his arm and legs. He’s never thrown many touchdown passes, and he threw for only 200 yards last week. Even though the Commanders give up among the most rushing yards per game to quarterbacks (32.3), it’s just not going to offset a modest passing yardage and touchdown output.
  • TE Darren Waller: the Commanders have allowed just 2.4 fantasy points per game to tight ends in standard formats, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. They’ve given up the sixth-fewest PPR points, as well. Stay away from Waller this week if you can, although it’s possible he can have a decent week if he scores a touchdown; the Commanders have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends in the last two weeks.
  • WR Darius Slayton: Although Slayton put up a respectable 10.90 PPR points last week, he remains a risky option due to the Giants’ poor pass protection. Slayton’s main appeal is as a deep threat eating up chunks of yardage, but that just hasn’t happened much this year. Still, considering that he had a 19.8 average depth of target last week, perhaps he’s worth a shot if Tyrod Taylor is willing to throw him the ball.

Around the NFL

  • Bring back Jalen Hurts: The Eagles’ quarterback scored the second-most points among quarterbacks in Week 6 despite throwing three interceptions. The Dolphins rank 15th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Hurts is the No. 2-ranked passer in fantasy. Don’t be afraid of the Week 6 aberration and trust his bona fides.
  • What to do with McCaffrey? The biggest issue is that the 49ers play on Monday, which means that if you start McCaffrey, you may be stuck with him. If Elijah Mitchell is available on waivers, it may be worth picking him up as a handcuff in case McCaffrey can’t go. If the 49ers say he has a chance to play, though, CMC is simply too valuable to leave out of your starting lineup just in case.
  • Stay away from Bears and Cardinals RBs: Even though they both face opponents who have given up among the most fantasy points to running backs, stay away from the Bears’ and Cardinals’ backs this week. With Justin Fields doubtful, Khalil Herbert out, Roschon Johnson still in the concussion protocol, and D’Onta Foreman having done very little last week, there’s not much reason to have confidence in anyone in this room, even if Johnson clears the protocol. Meanwhile, rookie UDFA Emari Demarcado was a non-factor last week for Arizona, and Keaontay Ingram’s performance was nothing to write home about.
  • Michael Pittman, volume or defense? The Browns have the No. 1 fantasy defense against wide receivers. Pittman has at least 11 targets and eight catches in four of six games this season. He’s definitely a risky play, but it’s worth noting that Alec Pierce also might be out with an injury.
  • Jonnu Smith a safe play in PPR leagues: Jonnu Smith has now scored at least 8.70 PPR points in his last five games. He’s the No. 9 tight end and faces a Tampa defense ranked 19th in PPR points allowed to the position. He continues to see at least the same number if not more snaps than Kyle Pitts, so he’s worth a start if you don’t have a high-end tight end.

Possible starters/streamers due to injury:

  • RB Zach Evans, LAR: Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers may both be out for several weeks.
  • RBs Jahmyr Gibbs and Craig Reynolds, DET: David Montgomery is almost certainly out Sunday, but both of these players are dealing with injuries, and they’re facing a tough matchup with the Ravens.
  • RBs Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason, SF: As mentioned above, McCaffrey is ailing. It’s hard to know how the split will be if he is out, but I expect both backs to get a significant number of touches in that situation.
  • RB Jeff Wilson, MIA: De’Von Achane was put on IR last week, and Christopher Brooks got hurt. This assumes Wilson is activated off IR before the game.