Thursday Night Football Fantasy Starters: Rashad Jennings, Kirk Cousins and Alfred Morris

By Steve Silverman

The Washington Redskins had no panic in their game when they went to Philadelphia in Week 3. They stood toe to toe with the undefeated Eagles and traded punches for three quarters.

If the Redskins did not have such dastardly special teams – they gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown, and Kai Forbath botched a 33-yard FG attempt – Jay Gruden’s team might have found a way to beat the Eagles.

The key to Washington’s ability to stay close was the long passing of backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. He stepped into his deep throws and threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns. Look for more of the same when the Redskins meet the Giants Thursday night.

New York got a lift from Rashad Jennings in Week Three, as he rushed for 176 yards against Houston. The Redskin run defense will test Jennings, but he appears to have that something extra that could help him in this game.

Here’s a look at the key fantasy players on both sides, and our recommendations on whether you should start them or sit them in your fantasy lineup.

Giants players

QB Eli Manning — After two struggling games to start the season, Manning was able to right the ship by completing 21-of-28 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns against the Texans. Most importantly, he did not throw an interception in the game. Manning has been troubled by turnovers for the past two seasons, and it’s going to take more than one good game to turn him around. The Redskins will put pressure on him, and it will be difficult for him to stay upright and avoid interceptions. BENCH HIM

RB Rashad Jennings – The Giants brought Jennings aboard in the offseason with the hope that he could give the running game a bit of a spark. He gave them a lot more than they could have possibly expected when he ran for 176 yards and a touchdown in Week 3. Consistency is his hallmark, because his long run was just 18 yards. The Redskins are solid against the run, ranking third in the NFL, but Jennings should be productive even if he doesn’t match last week’s total. You have to put him in your lineup. PLAY HIM

WR Victor Cruz – The Salsa-loving receiver finally got back into the endzone last week, and had a respectable 5-107-1 line against Houston. That should indicate a return to confidence and productivity. Manning is going to look to Cruz throughout the game, and if the receiver can catch one or two passes on the run, he has a chance to make big plays. PLAY HIM

Redskins players

QB Kirk Cousins – The Redskins gave a solid account of themselves against the Eagles last week, and now they come home to play another divisional opponent. While the Giants have given the Redskins a big problem in Washington over the years (Washington is 2-6 at home vs. New York in the last eight seasons), the Giants are not as good as the Eagles. Cousins should be able to exploit this defense and throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. PLAY HIM

RB Alfred Morris – One of the most underrated running backs in the league. Morris is not a threat to break long runs to the outside, but he is both smart and powerful. He can keep drives alive with his short-yardage carries, but he can also run over and run by linebackers. He may wear out the Giants in the second half. PLAY HIM

WR DeSean Jackson – Most receivers coming off a game like the one that Jackson had against the Eagles would have a burning desire do it again. However, Jackson wanted to show his old team, and his 5-117-1 game, which included an 81-yard scoring play, might have satisfied him. Consistency is not Jackson’s strong suit, and it’s not likely he has two good games in a row. BENCH HIM

WR Pierre Garcon – Superb hands, combined with the ability to get open, makes Garcon the Redskins’ most consistent receiver. He’s not a dynamic physical specimen, and he doesn’t command many double teams. Look for him to be Cousins’ top target in this game. PLAY HIM

***

Steve Silverman has been writing, talking about and playing fantasy football since the early 1990s. He co-hosted Fantasy Football Weekly, the first Fantasy Football television program, in 1994 and ’95. Follow Steve on Twitter @profootballboy.

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