New Orleans Saints (3-2, 3-2 ATS) at Seattle Seahawks (2-4, 3-3), 8:15 p.m., MNF
Brolley’s Saints Stats and Trends
New Orleans is 1-4 ATS in its last five Monday night contests.
The Saints are 6-2 toward unders in their last eight games.
Alvin Kamara had his best game of the season the last time we saw him in Week 5, posting 16/71/1 rushing and 5/51/1 receiving on eight targets against Washington. He’s now topped 115+ scrimmage yards in three straight games, and Najee Harris finished with 24/81 rushing and 6/46/1 receiving against the Seahawks last week.
Jameis Winston had fallen below 14 FP in his last three games after throwing five TD passes in the season opener against the Packers, but he exploded again for 27.8 FP in Week 5. He attempted a season-high 30 passes (his first time over 23 attempts in a game), producing 279 yards (9.3 YPA), four TDs, and one INT against the Football Team in Week 5. The Seahawks have held opposing QBs to fewer than 18 FP with one TD pass in three straight games.
Marquez Callaway exploded for 4/85/2 receiving on a season-high eight targets (27%) against Washington in Week 5, thanks in large part to his 49-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary pass before halftime. Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring, IR) is expected to see his first action of the season, and he’ll be competing with Callawy and Deonte Harris for the limited targets available in this passing attack. Seattle is giving up the eighth-most FPG (40.7) to WRs this season.
Juwan Johnson and Adam Trautman each have six catches for 64 yards through five games, but the massive difference is that three of Johnson’s catches have gone for touchdowns. Trautman has also run 30 more routes than Johnson (74 to 44). Pat Freiermuth and Eric Ebron combined for 9/68 receiving in this matchup last week.
Brolley’s Seahawks Stats and Trends
The Seahawks are 5-1 toward unders this season, and they’ve played under the total in four straight games.
Geno Smith was a fantasy flop in his first start since 2017. He completed 23/32 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown, and he lost a yard rushing while losing a critical fumble in overtime of their loss to the Steelers. His aDOT sat at just 3.3 yards, which was the shortest of all 30 starters last week. The Saints are giving up the third-fewest FPG (15.9) to QBs this season, and Taylor Heinicke managed just 11.9 FP in this matchup in Week 5.
Tyler Lockett and Russell Wilson (finger, IR) have owned one of the league’s best connections over the last decade with Lockett catching 76.6% of his targets in 2018-20 — 239 catches on 312 targets. He’s had no such connection in his first five quarters playing with Smith, posting just three catches on 11 targets (27.2% catch rate) for 42 yards. His aDOT sat at 9.6 yards last week after averaging 13.9 yards in the first five weeks. The Saints are facing the second-most WR targets per game (24.6) this season.
Geno has had a much easier time throwing to the much bigger target, D.K. Metcalf, who has 9/112/1 receiving on 10 targets (90% catch rate) in their first five quarters together. His aDOT sat at 6.2 yards last week after averaging 13.0 yards in the first five weeks. Kenny Golladay posted 6/116 receiving in this matchup in Week 4, and he’s the only WR to top 100+ yards against the Saints.
Gerald Everett just missed out on a long touchdown last week in his return to the lineup off of the COVID list. He finished with just 2/40 receiving on three targets while playing 48% of the snaps. Will Dissly assumed the top role at the position while he was out of the lineup, and he still led the position with a 72% snap share and he scored a touchdown against the Steelers. We’ll see if Everett earns more snaps this week or if the Seahawks continue to use Dissly ahead of him. The Saints haven’t allowed a touchdown to a TE in their first five games.
Chris Carson is dealing with a long-term neck condition, and Seattle decided to give him time to rest by placing him on the injured reserve. Alex Collins has assumed the top spot in the backfield the last two weeks, and he turned in 20/101/1 rushing and he caught his only target for a three-yard loss in defeat to the Steelers in Week 6. He owned most of the playing time in the backfield until he sat out late in the game with hip and glute injuries, finishing with a 60% snap share ahead of DeeJay Dallas (34%) and Travis Homer (8%). Collins is expected to be ready to play, but he lost some steam before he left for good against the Steelers. The Seahawks could use a full-blown committee with Collins leading the group this week, and Rashaad Penny is expected to rejoin the mix after a five-week absence for a calf injury. The Saints are giving up just 2.8 YPC and the second-fewest rushing yards per game (55.0) to RBs.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30 (24th)
Plays per game: 59.8 (31st)
Pass: 47.7% (32nd) | Run: 52.3% (1st)
Pace: 27.8 (15th)
Plays per game: 59.5 (32nd)
Pass: 59.7% (17th) | Run: 40.3% (16th)
I’ll say this much… there have been better MNF games than this one. Opportunities will be at a premium between these two teams that rank second-to-last and dead-last in plays per game. Coming out of their bye, the Saints will look to continue to run the hell out of the ball and load up Alvin Kamara with 18-25 touches no matter the game-script. HC Sean Payton doesn’t care if the game is close (seventh in run rate), if they’re behind (fourth in run rate), or if they’re leading (first in run rate) – he is not going to take the leash off of Jameis Winston. Luckily for New Orleans, Seattle is second-to-last in both scrimmage yards (128 per game) and touches (34.8 per game) allowed to opposing backfields, so this is about as perfect of a setup for Kamara as possible.
Geno Smith managed to acquit himself well in his first start since 2017, but the Seahawks passing offense was extremely conservative and I’d have to imagine that will be their plan again here. Seattle went 56% run-heavy on early-downs in the 1st-3rd quarters, which was the fourth-highest rate last week. We’ll see how long they can hold on and run the ball here, though. Through their first five games, the Saints front-seven gave up a league-low 2.87 YPC to opposing running backs.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
With the Saints starving for WR production, Deonte Harris has been on the verge of utility at various points this season. I hope his bum hamstring will not stand in the way of him taking the field this week. The Seahawks have given up the 8th-most FPG to opposing WRs this year, and are surrendering a bunch of big plays.
While it ain’t pretty in The Big Easy, The times are also tough in the Emerald City. It’s unfair to expect anything within the same galaxy as Russell Wilson from Geno Smith. Geno is a backup. You put him in the game while your starter has his knuckle re-taped. You do not ask him to lead your offense. Against a stout Saint defense, you have to lower expectations for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Yeah, this could be a tooth-pull of a Monday Night Football game, with the sweat more excruciating than ever. Only one team runs fewer plays than the Saints… and that’s the Seahawks. Yikes. And the weather? Potentially awful.
Look, statistically, it’s a good spot for Jameis Winston. And he and Sean Payton were apparently working on ball placement over the bye week:
Jameis Winston said Sean Payton sent him a "healthy text" containing areas for improvement. He shared one of those items today: Find his touch on underneath throws to let his receivers get some YAC https://t.co/qjRkl9fSQM— Luke Johnson (@ByLukeJohnson) October 21, 2021
I’m just not sure how much ball placement matters from a fantasy perspective if Winston is averaging 23.2 pass attempts per game. With Michael Thomas (ankle) still on IR, there aren’t really any trustworthy fantasy options here, and the Saints could activate Tre’Quan Smith this week. You can take dart throws on Saint receivers like Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway this week — I personally prefer Callaway, Wes prefers Harris (if he plays) — and you might have to because of Byemageddon. But you’re literally taking a dart throw.
The guy you start is Alvin Kamara. Shocking, I know. He’s gonna get fed.
Here is Geno Smith’s target distribution this season (49 attempts): Tyler Lockett (11), DK Metcalf (10), DeeJay Dallas (6), Will Dissly (5), Freddie Swain (5), Gerald Everett (3), Alex Collins (3).
You have to start Lockett and Metcalf — I can’t imagine having the luxury of sitting one of those guys this week — but obviously their floor and ceiling is so much lower with Geno.
The real question here is if Collins — who has a butt injury — will play this week. If he does, he’s on the RB2 radar. If not, it could be an ugly rotation with Dallas, Travis Homer, and Rashaad Penny, who is coming off IR with a calf injury.
I wish I had more insight into this game, but it could have the fewest plays run of any game this season.