New Orleans Saints (1-1, 1-1 ATS) at New England Patriots (1-1, 1-1), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Saints 19.25, Patriots 22.25
Spread/Total Movements: 43 to 41.5
Weather: 68 degrees, 20% chance of rain, 5 mph
Saints Injuries to Watch: C Erik McCoy (calf, out)
Patriots Injuries to Watch: LT Trent Brown (calf, questionable), LB Josh Uche (back, questionable), DB Adrian Phillips (personal, questionable)
Brolley’s Saints Stats and Trends
Both of New Orleans’ games have been decided by 20+ points ATS.
The Saints are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games.
Jameis Winston has attempted just 42 passes through two games and they’ve run a league-low 51.5 plays per game. New Orleans’ offense mustered just 128 total yards, they averaged 3.0 yards per play, and they didn’t crack the scoreboard until the fourth quarter in a 19-point loss to the Panthers last week. The Patriots have given up the third-fewest FPG (11.9) to QBs and they have five INTs after picking off Zach Wilson four times last week.
Marquez Callaway is leading the way with 46 routes followed by Deonte Harris (33) and Lil’Jordan Humphrey (21) as a distant third in this WR corps. The Saints don’t have a WR with 4+ catches or 7+ targets yet and Harris is leading the group with 81 receiving yards thanks to a 55-yard catch in the season opener. The Patriots are giving up 11.0/152.5 receiving per game to WRs through the early going.
Juwan Johnson ran 16 routes and saw three targets on his way to 1/23 receiving while Adam Trautman ran only 11 routes without a target in a negative gamescript last week. The Patriots have given up just 4/27 receiving to TEs in two games.
Alvin Kamara couldn’t even escape the stench of last week’s performance by the Saints, turning in the second lowest scrimmage yardage game of his career with 8/5 rushing and 4/25 receiving. Kamara has just 7/33/1 receiving through two games with Drew Brees in retirement, but he’s still seen the most targets (10) and he’s run the second-most routes (38). The Patriots are allowing 101.0 rushing yards and 4.5/40.0 receiving per game to RBs in the first two weeks.
Brolley’s Patriots Stats and Trends
New Orleans has played under the total in five straight games while New England is 9-1 toward unders in its last 10 games.
The Patriots are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite.
The Patriots needed Mac Jones to be a game-manager with Zach Wilson imploding on the other side last week, as he completed 22/30 passes for 186 yards (6.2 YPA) against the Jet. He owns the fourth-lowest aDOT at just 5.7 yards and we’ll see if the Saints’ offense actually pushes him to be more aggressive this week. Sam Darnold posted 305/2 passing against the Saints last week.
No Patriots receiver has reached 100+ receiving yards and Nelson Agholor is the only player with an aDOT in the double-digits at 10.9 yards
Jakobi Meyers has run a route on 95% of Jones’ dropbacks with a team-best 15 targets, but he’s sitting at just 10/82 receiving (8.2 YPR) with his aDOT sitting at 7.5 yards. The Saints are giving up 15.5 catches per game (eighth-most) to WRs so far.
Nelson Agholor has run a route on 96% of Jones’ dropbacks but he wasn’t asked to do much last week as a downfield threat with just 3/21 receiving in a blowout victory. Robby Anderson managed just 3/38 receiving on six targets in this matchup last week.
Hunter Henry once again held an advantage in routes (25 to 14) over Jonnu Smith last week, but Smith held the target advantage (5 to 4) for the second straight week. Jones is spreading the ball around and Henry and Jonnu are splitting work, and this isn’t the best matchup against a Saints’ defense that’s giving up the ninth-fewest FPG (8.0 FPG) in the early going.
James White has posted six catches in each of his first two games playing with Jones. He played a promising 50% of the snaps in a game the Patriots had won in the first half in Week 2, and he added a rushing touchdown, which was possibly helped by Rhamondre Stevenson being inactive. Christian McCaffrey had 5/65 receiving against the Saints last week.
Damien Harris saw his touches (25 to 17) and snap share (53% to 41%) dip in Week 2 despite an extremely positive game script and Stevenson being inactive. He broke a 26-yard touchdown run to bust through for fantasy but he averaged just 2.4 YPC on his other 15 carries. The Saints have stifled the run once again in the early going, allowing just 2.7 YPC to RBs through two weeks.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1-2 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 31.7 (25th)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 50 (32nd)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 48.6% (30th) | Run: 51.4% (3rd)
Week 1-2 – Pace: 30.2 (23rd)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 65 (18th)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 58.5% (20th) | Run: 41.5% (13th)
The Saints have been in two totally different game-scripts to start this season, stomping Green Bay in a laugher in Week 1 and then getting stomped by Carolina last week. Their offense just hasn’t been on the field this season and that’s why we’ve seen such a slow start for Alvin Kamara and Co. The Saints are dead last, by a mile, in plays per game and their offense generated just six (6!) total first downs last week against the Panthers. Even though they struggled to get going, HC Sean Payton still didn’t push the pace on offense and was very balanced – going 53% pass | 47% run on early-downs against Carolina. The Patriots have, unsurprisingly, been conservative with Mac Jones as OC Josh McDaniels has gone with a dead even 50/50 pass | run split on early downs this season. This game is going to be played at a snail’s pace between these two run-first offenses. This is the second-worst matchup of the week in adjusted combined pace/plays and absolutely deserves every bit of being the second lowest totaled game on the slate (42).
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Based on the Patriots’ coverage shell tendencies, I do not think this is the week to get your Jameis Winston fix. Next please.
That doesn’t mean things will be easy for the Patriots, either. Last week was CB Bradley Roby’s debut in New Orleans after a trade and suspension. A shutdown corner made his return from suspension last week. Make sure you’re seated… he’s still a shutdown corner. Over 25 coverage snaps across from D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall last week, the duo combined to generate a 1/11/0 line on a pair of targets. Pats WR Nelson Agholor couldn’t solve Bryce Hall last week. He’ll have a barrel of laughs with Roby.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
I hate the New Orleans Saints with every fiber of my being. Most of that dates back to Sean Payton scheming touchdowns for random fullbacks and third-string tight ends for a decade and a half, then the Taysom Hill stuff, but now it’s because through two games I have absolutely no idea what this team is.
The Saints have run the fewest plays in the NFL, and they’ve played in two extreme gamescripts — one positive and one negative. It’s hard to get a grasp on what their ideal plan of attack is when that happens, and it’s hard for any receiver to produce when Jameis Winston has thrown just 42 passes in two games.
While Marquez Callaway was a popular fantasy pick and he leads this WR group in routes run (and easily so), the Saints just aren’t passing enough for it to matter. Ditto for the Juwan Johnson/Adam Trautman split at tight end, though Johnson remains my preferred stash of the two — he already surpassed Trautman in routes and targets by Week 2. No pass catcher here is exciting until further notice.
The only Saint who should be in a lineup in a normal-sized league (12 teams, heck, maybe even 14) is Alvin Kamara. And even he was a disappointment last week.
Similarly to New Orleans, the Patriots’ passing game doesn’t offer much in the way of excitement for fantasy. QB Mac Jones has been an effective ball distributor in his first two career starts, but his 22.7 FP are the fewest among all QBs who have started and finished two games so far.
Nelson Agholor is the Pats’ top-scoring WR at WR45, but Wes thinks he’ll have trouble with CB Bradley Roby. I wish I could throw an endorsement behind Jakobi Meyers — he’s tied for 31st among WRs with 15 targets, but is 63rd in fantasy points. A lot of that owes to his 8.2 YPR, but last week was a big bummer in terms of game script. He caught 4 passes before halftime, but he saw only 1 target in the second half with the Pats up big on the Jets. Maybe this week is better. He’s a WR4 in PPR.
As feared, Patriot TEs Hunter Henry (TE24) and Jonnu Smith (TE14) appear to be cannibalizing each other. Henry is tied for 15th among TEs with 45 routes run, while Jonnu is tied for 34th with 30. But Jonnu has 10 targets to Henry’s 7… a 33.3% T/Rt rate for Jonnu and 15.6% for Henry (SIS). I still prefer Jonnu, but neither is all that appealing until the Pats have to throw it more.
Where the Pats can really help your fantasy team is in the backfield. Through two games, Damien Harris is RB20, and James White is RB13. Harris is 6th among RBs with 39 carries and 162 rushing yards, while White is tied for 3rd with 13 targets and tied for 2nd with 12 receptions. And last week, with Rhamondre Stevenson a healthy scratch, the snap breakdown was pretty much even — 50% for White, 41% for Harris, and 9% for JJ Taylor. Both White and Harris are RB2s.