Fantasy Football: NY Giants vs Panthers – Week 15

Adam Nardelli | Fantasy Football Contributor

For all of the fantasy footballers out there, if you’re squad is playing in a meaningful match-up this Sunday, then kudos to you and obviously things have gone rather well.

Week 15 of the regular season generally marks the second round of the playoffs in most fantasy football leagues, meaning this Sunday could be the end of a long journey for some or an early Christmas present for others and a ticket into the championship for week 16.

As we all know the Giants face a tough path into the real playoffs, and it begins against the 13-0 Carolina Panthers.  Of course, the match-up that everyone wants to see is Josh Norman, arguably the best corner back in the NFL this season, vs. our prized Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham could be the difference between some fantasy teams winning or losing this weekend, so looking deeper into the match-up between him and Norman is essential.

Norman, 28, is in his fourth season out of Coastal Carolina University, and has gone beyond the expectations most had for him this season.  His four interceptions, 16 pass deflections, and two touchdowns have made him one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league.

Even more impressive than these numbers are the numbers that has hasn’t given up to some of the NFL’s best receivers.  According to Kim Jones (WFAN/NFLN), Norman allowed 3 catches for 35 yards to DeAndre Hopkins, 1 catch for 15 yards to TY Hilton, 1 catch for 6 yards to Dez Bryant, 4 catches for 33 yards to Julio Jones, and held Mike Evans without a catch at all.  That’s a total of just 9 catches for 89 yards combined, which is almost incomprehensible.

Noman also has the second-highest Pro Football Focus grade among Corner backs, just behind the Cardinals’ Tyrann Mathieu.  With the Giants lacking another threatening receiver across from Beckham they might not have a choice but to try to get the ball in the hands of their best play maker even with Norman on him.

Or do they have another option?  Jordan Raanan of brought up an interesting point about using Odell Beckham Jr. in the slot, a territory Norman is not familiar with this season.  He’s generally been tasked with covering the best receivers of the opposing team on the outside, but OBJ has the ability to work out of the slot as well, a possible way to isolate Beckham from Norman.

Rannan noted that Beckham has lined up in the slot on 23.7% of snaps this season, catching 29 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns on those plays.  Norman’s inexperience with covering receivers in the slot gives OBJ the slight (very slight) edge in the match-up, as the Giants might be able to force Norman out of his comfort zone with putting OBJ in the slot more often than normal.

To discuss some of the other fantasy implications this game offers, it’s hard not to feel good about starting Eli Manning this week after his 27/31 for 337 yards and 4 touchdowns performance on Monday night in Miami.  However, don’t expect a replication of that performance this Sunday. 

The Dolphins are 26th against the pass, while the Panthers are 5th, and also boast the 3rd overall ranked defense in the league in terms of yards given up.  Besides Norman, Kurt Coleman has seven interceptions which is second in the NFL.

Eli Manning has likely been a solid contributor to fantasy footballers that own him this season, and for those owners in the playoffs this weekend, it would probably be difficult for them to make a Quarterback change at this point.  However, for the Eli Manning owners out there it might be a good idea to make sure your skill positions are polished up as well as you can in order to compensate for a possible disappointing week from Eli.

The quarterback on the opposite sidelines this Sunday, Cam Newton, is an obvious start for all owners that have him.  He’ll be going up against the 32nd ranked pass defense in the Giants, and has absolutely been on fire as of recent weeks. 

Over the past four games Newton has thrown 13 touchdowns and just one interception, and has also rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown, showing there is always the potential for Newton to snag you some points with his legs.

If you’re looking for a possible sleeper pick, maybe for a daily fantasy contest, with Running Back Jonathan Stewart out for the Panthers, Fozzy Whittaker fits the sleeper role perfectly.   The NY Giants rush defense isn’t anything special, ranked 16th in the league, and with Cam Newton’s ability to sling the ball all over the field it’ll be hard to devote much emphasis to defending the run.

Of course if Greg Olsen is on your roster he is a must start in any league.  The NJ native is having a great year and tight ends always give the Giants trouble.