New Orleans Saints (2-2, 2-2 ATS) at Washington Football Team (2-2, 1-3), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Saints Stats and Trends
The Saints are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games following an outright loss, and 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
New Orleans is 6-1 toward unders in its last seven games.
The Saints are playing some ugly offensive football with Sean Payton looking to limit Jameis Winston’s mistakes. He’s fallen below 14 FP in his last three games after throwing five TD passes in the season opener against the Packers, and he’s yet to attempt more than 23 passes in a single game. It doesn’t help that Tayson Hill has vultured three rushing TDs in the last two games. The Saints have the chance to find some success this week against a disappointing Washington defense that’s giving up 34.0 points per game in their last three contests.
Marquez Callaway led the Saints in routes with 21 last week, and he nearly cracked double-digit FP by catching his only targets for 74 yards. Deonte Harris finished second in routes with 19 and he turned a season-high eight targets (31% share) into 5/52 receiving. The Football Team is giving up the third-most FPG (45.4) to WRs, and they’ve been targeted 26.5 times per game, which is more passes than the Saints have attempted in a game.
Alvin Kamara posted a career-high 26 carries last week to go along with a career-low zero targets. He has just 10/62/2 receiving on 14 targets through four weeks, and he’s averaging just 3.8 YPC after averaging 5.0 YPC on more limited carries in his first four seasons. He’s done all the dirty work and he’s seen Taysom steal three rushing TDs the last two weeks. Kamara should continue to see heavy carries with Tony Jones (ankle) going down with an injury. Washington is allowing just 3.6 YPC so we’ll see if he gets more involved as a receiver this week.
Brolley’s Washington Stats and Trends
Washington has played over the total in three straight games, and their defense is giving up 34.0 points per game in their last three contests (@Atl, @Buf, NYG).
The Football Team is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games.
Antonio Gibson has already appeared on Washington’s injury reports for shoulder and shin ailments this season, and he took a big shot to his side with about nine minutes left last week. J.D. McKissic and Jaret Patterson closed out the game for the Football Team. Gibson finished with 14/63/1 rushing and he caught both of his targets on 55% of the snaps before he left. McKissic isn’t going away any time soon, especially after he scored the game-winning touchdown on a 30-yard catch-and-run play with 33 second left. The Saints are giving up the third-fewest rushing yards per game (50.8) and just 2.9 YPC to RBs. Saquon Barkley did have a day against them in both phases, posting 13/52/1 rushing and 5/74/1 receiving last week.
Taylor Heinicke led his second dramatic comeback victory in the last three weeks, and he’s now posted 21+ FP in each of his first three starts. Heinie completed 23/33 passes for 290 yards and three TDs and he added 5/43 rushing for 27.9 FP against the Falcons. The Saints gave up 20+ FP to their first quarterback last week with Daniel Jones posting 402/2 passing and 4/27 rushing.
Heinicke has quickly learned to just chuck it up to Terry McLaurin and typically good things will happen. F1 ripped the Falcons 6/123/2 receiving on a whopping 13 targets (39% share) with his second score coming on a prayer ball from 17 yards away. Scary Terry has now seen 13+ targets in two of Heinicke’s first three starts this season, which had led to 27+ FP in those contests. He has a tough matchup against his friend and former college teammate Marshon Lattimore this week. Kenny Golladay posted 6/116 receiving against the Saints last week, and New Orleans is giving up the ninth-most FPG (42.1) to WRs this season.
Curtis Samuel played only 37% of the snaps in his first action last week, but he caught all four of his targets for 19 yards against the Falcons. He showed back up on the injury report this week for his lingering groin injury so he’s going to be hard to completely trust since he’s having major issues getting healthy. Kadarius Toney posted 6/78 receiving on eight targets as a primary slot option against the Saints last week.
An already weak fantasy position took another hit in Week 4 with Logan Thomas leaving in the first before being immediately ruled out with a hamstring injury. He was hardly killing it for fantasy with between 9.5-13.2 FP in each of his first three games. Ricky Seals-Jones will step into his place for as long as Thomas is out of the lineup, but he did little with just 2/19 receiving on four targets (13% share). He did at least play on a promising 93% snap share with 31 routes in Week 4. The Saints have given up five catches to Evan Engram and Hunter Henry the last two weeks, but neither player reached 40+ yards and they haven’t given up a score to a TE.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 32 (29th)
Plays per game: 60.0 (28th)
Pass: 44.6% (32nd) | Run: 55.4% (1st)
Pace: 24.9 (1st)
Plays per game: 59.8 (29th)
Pass: 57.0% (23rd) | Run: 43.0% (10th)
This Saints offense is absolutely dreadful right now. This team is just miserable for fantasy and over bettors. New Orleans is the most run-heavy team on early-downs at 56% and the most run-heavy team in neutral situations (game within a score in 1st-3rd quarter) at 63%. If you’re going to play that way… why not just start Taysom Hill? Who, ya know, can actually help what’s been a middling rushing attack? I’m a long time Sean Payton fan and defender, but everything about this offense is a head-scratcher right now. By running non-stop and playing so slow, they are putting a ton of pressure on the defense to stop their opponents which is a very thin margin to live on. They need Michael Thomas back ASAP. Washington, on the other hand, is the fastest team in the league in pace and Taylor Heinicke has been more than serviceable for fantasy. However, nothing about the Saints inspires confidence, so I’m very skeptical that we will get a shootout. Saints’ games have combined for 41, 33, 41, and 48 total points so far.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Until Michael Thomas arrives to save this New Orleans offense, almost everyone is shaping up as a weekly fade. Jameis Winston is now confidently found within the do not touch category after ceding a combined 12/60/3 rushing line to Taysom Hill over the last two weeks. Those three TDs from Hill match the three Winston has passed for over the last two games. And missing out on those goal-line carries is not doing Alvin Kamara any favors. That’s four straight weeks of under-value production. How does zero targets sound for Kamara in a game New Orleans lost to the Giants?!?
The way Week 4 shook out for Washington very likely stands as a pretty good example of what we can expect in the coming weeks. Logan Thomas departed early enough in the game for us to see how the touches might be distributed. The fact that J.D. McKissic collected the go-ahead points on a 30-yard reception is ominous for Antonio Gibson’s chances of absorbing the available targets normally designated to Thomas. The touches were split 16-to-12 in favor of Gibson. But McKissic (5) was the second-most targeted player after Terry McLaurin (13). The Saints do not mess around with their allowance of FPG to RBs (eighth-fewest at 19.5 FPG). That stated, only four teams have apportioned a higher percentage of overall FPG allowed on receiving production (59%).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
So yeah. You can only have enough brain power to break down a full slate of games, and while fantasy players likely want to send Sean Payton into the Kuiper Belt for his Alvin Kamara usage, it makes the Saints easy to break down.
No Saint has more than 15 targets through four games… and that’s Deonte Harris. 107 different NFL players — 3.45 per the other 31 teams — have 16 or more targets. Some players who have as many targets as Harris include Cole Kmet, Jack Doyle, Derrick Henry (who has more targets than Kamara), and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.
As my good buddy Tom Brolley has said multiple times this week, if this is how the Saints are going to play, why don’t they just play Taysom Hill full time?
It’s Kamara or bust. Next.
Of course, it’s also unfortunate that Washington is without one of its best fantasy options — TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) — another is banged up — RB Antonio Gibson (shin) — and another faces a tough matchup — WR Terry McLaurin.
Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit:
“Don’t actually sit McLaurin this week, but do temper your expectations.
McLaurin is expected to draw shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore — PFF’s 9th-highest graded CB this year. From 2019-2020, a shadow matchup against Lattimore was typically worth shaving off about 19% from a WR’s FPG average. In this case, McLaurin would fall from 19.6 FPG (5th-best) to 15.9 FPG (22nd). In the only other game Lattimore has shadowed thus far (Week 1), he held Davante Adams to a season-low 10.6 fantasy points. McLaurin, meanwhile, rose above a similarly tough matchup in Week 2 (James Bradberry’s shadow coverage), but he also flopped in Week 3 against Tre’Davious White’s shadow coverage.
Anyway, he runs about 25% of his routes from the slot, and so he will at least avoid Lattimore a quarter of the time. And, again, don’t actually sit him. But we’re bumping him down to WR15 this week due to the tough matchup.”
With McLaurin catching a tough shadow and Thomas out, it’ll be interesting to see what Curtis Samuel’s role is in his second game back from a groin injury. He’s only a desperation FLEX play and more of a bench stash. If you need a really deep TE option, Ricky Seals-Jones is in play. Because of all these, it also makes Taylor Heinicke a little less appealing as a streamer than he has been in recent weeks.
Wes outlined why he likes JD McKissic above, which relegates Antonio Gibson to useful but frustrating RB2 duties. The question for Gibson is how long he can keep this up, because the injury sounds pretty damn serious, even if they say it isn’t. Those in deeper leagues might want to look to picking up Jaret Patterson.
Antonio Gibson said he has a stress fracture in his shin, but sense is that it's a minor one. Was classified as a bruised shin pre-Atlanta. Gibson also said he really doesn't have any pain and they sits out to give him a rest. Not anything serious. Sense is that he'll play Sun— John Keim (@john_keim) October 8, 2021