Monday Night Football
NY Giants @ San Francisco
Team Totals: 49ers 22.5, Giants 19.5
Thursday Night Football hero Nick Mullens earned his second career start by executing Kyle Shanahan’s offense to near-Week 9 perfection. Flaming the hapless Raiders for 11.9 yards per attempt and three touchdowns, Mullens’ average time to throw of 2.26 seconds was fastest among all NFL quarterbacks (PFF) last week, demonstrating decisiveness and giving his teammates run-after-catch chances. Smallish (6’1/214) but scrappy out of Southern Miss – where he was recruited by now-Bucs offensive mastermind Todd Monken -- Mullens impressively completed 63.4% of his throws over his final two college seasons, averaging 8.6 YPA with a 62:23 TD-to-INT ratio and seven rushing TDs. He is a two-QB-league starter and deep-league streamer. … As the Niners played on Thursday night in Week 9 and return for Week 10’s Monday nighter, Matt Breida had extra time to rest his repeatedly-aggravated ankle injury, and his workload projection is enhanced by Raheem Mostert’s broken arm. Alfred Morris has not reached double-digit touches since Week 5. The Giants have allowed 100-plus rushing yards in 6-of-8 games and 11 TDs to running backs, while San Francisco’s mauling offensive line ranks No. 3 in the NFL in yards created before contact per carry (3.3). Breida is an upside RB2 play. Morris is a touchdown-reliant flex.
Mullens’ Week 9 target distribution: Pierre Garcon 5; George Kittle and Marquise Goodwin 4; Richie James 3; Kendrick Bourne and Kyle Juszczyk 2; Breida 1. … Mullens was so good against the Raiders he snapped Garcon’s 18-game scoreless streak. Unfortunately, Garcon (knee) was ruled out for Monday night and will be replaced by Bourne, who led the Niners in targets (10) and receiving (7/71/0) when Garcon missed Week 8. Last week, Mullens hit Bourne for a second-quarter TD from four yards out. The Giants’ top-three corners are struggling Janoris Jenkins, journeyman B.W. Webb, and tiny UDFA rookie slot CB Grant Haley. … Jenkins is tied with Marcus Peters for most touchdown catches allowed (6) among cornerbacks and is surrendering a 74% completion rate on throws into his coverage. Jenkins got Mossed by Falcons fifth receiver “Marvin Hall” for a 47-yard touchdown bomb on Week 7 Monday Night Football. Goodwin hasn’t exceeded five targets in a game all year and is always a high-variance bet, but his combination of big-play ability and matchup gives Goodwin dart-throw appeal, particularly with Garcon out of commission. … Quarterback-proof Kittle has caught TDs from Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard, and Mullens this year and ranks second among tight ends in yards (692). Tight ends have converted 32-of-44 (73%) targets into 404 yards (9.2 YPA) and three TDs against the Giants in their last six games. … As Trent Taylor was a healthy Week 9 scratch, seventh-round rookie James ran 12 routes at slot receiver and turned a quick crossing route into a 53-yard gain.
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Even at 1-7, the stubborn Giants will continue to trot out the petrified remains of Eli Manning against a 49ers defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes in 7-of-9 games. Manning has finished QB20 or worse in 5-of-8 starts, however, showing scant upside with just one top-ten result. Matchups simply haven’t mattered for Manning, whose complete lack of quick-twitch athleticism is a worst-case-scenario combination with New York’s swinging-gate offensive line. As San Francisco’s pass rush came alive for eight Week 9 sacks and the G-Men rank bottom eight in sacks-per-dropback allowed (8.9%), the Niners’ D/ST is worth Week 10 streamer consideration. … One of New York’s few bright spots is Saquon Barkley, who is on pace (116) to break Matt Forte’s all-time record for running back receptions (102). The 49ers have allowed the league’s fifth-most catches (55) to enemy backs. With 20-plus touches in 6-of-8 games, Barkley is an elite RB1 play every time he dresses. Christian McCaffrey (62.5), James Conner (61.0), and Todd Gurley (56.6) are the NFL’s only running backs playing more snaps per game than Barkley (54.5), whose MNF matchup is improved by 49ers MLB Reuben Foster's (hamstring) absence.
Eli’s Weeks 7-8 target distribution: Odell Beckham 22; Barkley 20; Sterling Shepard 16; Evan Engram 13; Bennie Fowler 8; Rhett Ellison 3. … OBJ is on pace for career highs in catches (122) and yards (1,570) in spite of Manning’s woes. 49ers LCB Richard Sherman never moves, and Beckham runs 51% of his routes to other areas of the field. … With seven-plus targets in six straight games, Shepard should be locked into fantasy lineups against the Niners, who have given up useful-or-better results to fellow slot WRs Golden Tate (7/109/0), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3/103/0), Larry Fitzgerald (8/102/1), Adam Thielen (6/102/0), Robert Woods (5/78/0), and Keenan Allen (7/63/0). … Back from an early-season MCL injury before the Giants’ Week 9 bye, Engram drew target counts of 4 and 9 against the Falcons and Redskins. Each of Engram’s two touchdowns have come in garbage time this year, including a two-yard score with :17 left in New York’s Week 8 loss. The Giants’ clear No. 4 passing-game option, Engram has been held to 25 yards or fewer in 4-of-5 appearances. The 49ers rank 19th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, although missing designated TE stopper Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) will make life easier on Engram.
Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Giants 23