Can Fantasy Football Owners Trust Eli Manning Down the Stretch?

Manning's up-and-down fantasy performances make him tough to trust. But can he produce when it matters most?

Through nine weeks, Eli Manning has produced some week-winning performances for fantasy owners.

But Manning has also posted some dud performances, putting his owners in a deep hole at the quarterback position.

Manning is currently the eighth-highest scoring quarterback in standard scoring leagues, but his 17.22 fantasy points per game average, ranks him 15th on a per-game basis.

On the season, Manning has been a top-six quarterback in only three weeks. On the flipside, Manning’s numbers have placed him outside the top 20 in four weeks.

Furthermore, nearly 43 percent of Manning’s fantasy point total has come in two games.

Everyone remembers Manning’s six-touchdown performance against Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 8. In a losing effort, Manning completed 30 of 41 passes for 350 yards and the aforementioned 6 touchdowns.

But earlier in the season, Manning had another big game, tossing 3 touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers on 41 of 54 passing for 441 yards.

Manning’s fantasy owners know that the inconsistent quarterback has either single-handedly won them a matchup or cost them a win on any given week.

Now, with the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, what can we make of Manning moving forward?

Rolling the Dice With Eli

Through nine games, Manning has tossed 19 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but three games, but he’s also failed to notch a touchdown pass in two games this year -- both against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here’s a closer look at Manning’s up-and-down performances:

Week Fantasy Points Scored Scoring Rank Among QBs
1 30th 7
2 15th 19
3 10th 19
4 6th 18
5 2nd 28
6 26th 8
7 24th 6
8 2nd 38
9 22nd 12

As you can see, Manning has posted some great weeks. But not only has he failed to produce top-20 quarterback numbers in four weeks, he’s scored below 10 points in three of those games.

A Second Year With McAdoo

Last season, Ben McAdoo was brought in from Green Bay to serve as the Giants offensive coordinator.

McAdoo, who was the Packers quarterbacks coach for the previous eight years, brought in a west coast offensive scheme that was expected to up the tempo in New York.

In his first season with McAdoo, Manning posted a 62.37 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), ranking him 12th out of 23 quarterbacks who dropped back to pass at least 450 times. NEP measures how many points a player adds to his team’s expected scoring total; for more information, check out our glossary.

So far this year, Manning has improved under McAdoo.

Year Passes Pass NEP Pass NEP/Play Pass Successes Success Rate
2014 629 62.37 0.10 305 48.49%
2015 352 69.49 0.23 178 50.57 %

Manning’s 2015 Passing NEP ranks him 7th out of 29 quarterbacks with at least 200 pass plays. That puts Manning right below Brees (82.56, 6th) and right above  Derek Carr (68.29, 8th).

Manning is averaging a career-high 37.8 attempts per game this year -- his 37.6 attempts per game last season is his current career high. If he can maintain his current 65.9 percent completion percentage, that would also be a new career-high.

As a whole, the Giants offense ranks 11th in the league, with a passing attack that also ranks 11th, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics.

The Giants' offense has produced 349.7 yards per game, good enough for 21st in the league, but the Giants are averaging 27.4 points per game, 5th best in the league.

This shows us the Giants' offense has serious potential to put points on the board and where it really matters -- in the standings. Manning has helped lead the Giants to the top of a putrid NFC East with a 5-4 record.

The Supporting Cast

Manning has an elite go-to option in Odell Beckham, who has 59 receptions for 759 yards and 7 touchdowns on the year.

Beckham has recorded a 80.31 Reception NEP, second best out of 51 receivers with 25 or more receptions. Only DeAndre Hopkins (86.65) has posted a better Reception NEP than Beckham through nine weeks.

Outside of Beckham, Rueben Randle is second on the Giants with 36 receptions for 424 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back Shane Vereen is third on the team in receptions with 34 for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Victor Cruz has yet to see the field this year while he recovers from a torn patellar tendon and recurring calf injury.

But according to the Giants' official website, Cruz says he “absolutely” believes that he will return to the field this year, potentially giving Manning one more playmaker if Cruz is in fact able to play.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Giants defense ranks 25th in our Adjusted Defensive NEP metric. The defense is yielding 25.1 points per game, meaning Manning could find himself in a number of games where he’ll need to pass often to catch up.

The Upcoming Schedule

Looking ahead, Manning has some opportunities to be a top weekly fantasy quarterback.

In Week 10, Manning and the Giants host the 8-0 New England Patriots. The early line on the game is 54.5 points with the Patriots favored by 7.5, giving the Giants a 23.5-point team total.

While game flow would suggest Manning could be throwing the ball a ton, the Patriots' defense has been stingy, owning the ninth best passing defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics.

Over the past five weeks, the quarterbacks playing the Patriots have finished as QB9, QB25, QB9, QB3, and QB29.

The Giants then have a bye in Week 11 before traveling to the nation’s capital in Week 12 to take on the ‘Skins, who currently own the league’s 17th ranked pass defense, per our metrics.

Earlier this year, Manning passed for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns with no picks against Washington, leading the Giants to a 32-23 victory.

Manning then gets the Jets (6th) in Week 13 before heading into the fantasy playoffs with a schedule of: at Miami (20th), versus Carolina (3rd), and at Minnesota (12th).

Manning is an intriguing option this week because he could be involved in a shootout against New England. Then, he’ll see below average pass defenses in Washington and Miami, but fantasy owners will need to be prepared to look elsewhere in four weeks of the remaining season.

In addition to his bye week, Manning will face stiff challenges in New York, Carolina, and Minnesota, leaving owners to search for other quarterbacks down the stretch run.