Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire
Each week, our staff here at QB List will be previewing all the fantasy-relevant things you should be on the lookout for in this week’s games. Today, we preview all the upcoming Week 3 action.
Saints vs. Falcons
Divisional matchups are always exciting. Despite the 1-1 record for both the Falcons and the Saints, these teams are very good. While both teams entered the year with strong defenses, the Saints recent underperformance and the Falcons injuries have me believing this game might end in a shootout between two good quarterbacks. Below I will cover the fantasy relevant Saints players for this game.
Can anyone stop Alvin Kamara?
There does not seem to be an answer for Alvin Kamara. Although the run game has not been as good as last year, through the air Kamara has been outstanding. If any team was capable of providing a defense for Kamara, the Falcons were that team. Deion Jones at middle linebacker is an unreal athlete that has proven to be an elite coverage player. His dominance against the Rams last postseason cemented his status in the NFL. But the Falcons will be playing without their star linebacker. They also lost another athlete in Keanu Neal that would have been responsible for chasing Kamara. The result? Kamara is in for another huge game. He will be fed the ball in both facets of the game, producing like he usually does. Although he did not find the end zone last week, he did receive two goal-line carries. Without Ingram his touchdown chance for any given week is much higher, this week being no different. Kamara is already a lock in your lineup, hopefully, he can lead you to victory this week.
Alvin Kamara: 12 carries, 65 yards, 1 TD; 6 catches, 90 yards
Can Michael Thomas continue his torrid pace?
Michael Thomas is on a record-setting pace. His combination of size, strength and route running make him a dynamic weapon in all areas of the field. Though he may lack the impressive physical tools of some other top receivers, his production speaks for itself. 28 catches through two games is absurd, the question is whether this will continue. A true number two target has not emerged for this offense, which leaves Thomas alone amongst the receivers seeing regular targets. Until one of the other pass catchers, including the tight ends, show something, this offense is going through Thomas. The players behind him in targets, Ted Ginn Jr. and Alvin Kamara bring different skill sets that actually increase Thomas’s volume. Ginn constantly stretches the field with his deep routes, often creating space in the middle of the secondary for Thomas to slot into. Kamara’s propensity to catch passes out of the backfield and create big plays draws the attention of the linebackers and other players near the line of scrimmage. The end result? More spacing. If the offense continues to go through these three players, Thomas will continue to catch a record-breaking amount of passes. Specifically for this week, Desmond Trufant will be the player covering Thomas the most. This will be a tough matchup, however, I believe that Sean Payton’s ability as play caller will put Thomas in a position to succeed more often than not.
Michael Thomas: 11 targets, 10 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD
Will we get week 1 Drew Brees or week 2? Who are the players most likely affected by his play?
Drew Brees was exceptional in week 1 but in week 2 he missed some very big throws. The missed touchdown to Benjamin Watson was a mistake that Brees rarely ever makes. Take a look at the play below:
I would never expect Brees to miss this and I would definitely not bet on it happening again. While I do think Brees bounces back to his elite level, it is important to understand the effect he has on this offense. One thing needs to be clear, “bad Brees” is an average to above average QB. For this simple reason, the elite players like Thomas and Kamara should produce regardless. The players that get affected are the fringe players like Watson or Ginn. In that game alone, Brees under threw Ginn twice and had the aforementioned missed touchdown to Watson. Outside of Kamara and Thomas is the rest of the team is reliant on a few plays going their way in a given game. As my write-up for Ginn has been every week, he is going to be targeted deep down the field at least once a game and it might lead to a long touchdown. Or it can lead to nothing. He is the definition of boom or bust. Watson might see a few end zone targets because the Saints are a great offense but you are relying on that touchdown for any sort of useful production. Watson has run a similar amount of route to both Ginn and Kamara but has not been heavily targeted which I expect to remain the same this week. All this to say, stick with the studs and Drew Brees will be fine. He is a solid start against a battered defense and has enough weapons to produce in any given game.
Drew Brees: 300 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 Int
Ted Ginn Jr.: 3 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD
Benjamin Watson: 2 catches, 15 yards
Who is Austin Carr? Is he a name to know at all?
Austin Carr has been on the field a lot for the Saints. He has run the same amount of routes as Watson and only 4 less than both Kamara and Ginn despite only drawing 3 targets. While Carr is clearly the 5th option in the offense at this point, it is interesting that he has gotten as much playing time as he has. With his current lack of production, it seems rookie Tre’Quan Smith should get more looks as the season goes on. At any rate, Carr makes for an interesting DFS play as a cheap player that is on the field a lot but provides little value in regular leagues at the moment. If the targets increase, he might be a useful deep-league add.
Can this Saints defense prove itself against a competent team?
This defense has let me down. I expected them to be better. The Browns were supposed to be a matchup that can be dominated but now they are rolling into another tough matchup with little to show on the season. If you saw the Falcons gash the Panthers last week and decided that you were not going to start the Saints defense against them, I would not blame you. Corner Marshon Lattimore is great, but Julio Jones is another beast. Corner Ken Crawley against Mohamed Sanu or Calvin Ridley could lead to problems for the Saints. The only thing that gives me hope is the pass rush. Cameron Jordan has been strong as ever and Marcus Davenport has been useful in his limited playing time. Earlier today I read an article claiming Davenport was “looking like a bust” because he had only recorded 3 tackles in 2 games. I would counter with a few stats. One, Davenport has played sparingly only taking the field for 46 snaps! Two, his 3 tackles have all been solo stops, where he prevented the running back from gaining any yards. And three, although he has no sacks he has 3 pressures and 1 QB hit. Von Miller, in comparison, has played 100 snaps, recorded 8 tackles, 5 stops, and has had 8 pressures. Miller has been undeniably brilliant this season and if you extrapolate Davenport’s numbers (100 snaps, 6 pressures, 6 stops, 6 tackles) they would look similar. Judging a player on his first 50 snaps in the NFL is ridiculous but I just wanted to take this time to ease any Saints fans that may have read that article. Davenport has looked good and if he sees the field more, in conjunction with Cameron Jordan, they could put significant pressure on Matt Ryan. Matt Ryan is brutal under pressure, as we saw against the Eagles which makes the pass rush very important. While I am not excited to start the Saints this week, I am not quite ready to drop them.
24 ponts, 1 turnover
This should be an exciting game. If the current play calling remains the norm, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are the best WR/RB fantasy duo in the league. The rest of this team can be elevated by Drew Brees but remain riskier plays. This matchup should also give us solid evidence on whether to trust this defense or not. Check back on Monday for the QB List “What We Saw” article where we break down every game.
With Atlanta’s defense riddled with injuries, and New Orleans’ defense looking like a shell of last year’s, do you see a lot of offense in this one?
More often than not, when these two teams get together, there are a ton of fireworks. I expect nothing less for this Sunday’s matchup. I would like to get as many players from both teams started this week. Atlanta is littered with injuries along the defense, and they will struggle to get to Drew Brees. On the flip side, New Orleans could hardly contain the Browns’ offense that looked less than stellar with QB Tyrod Taylor at the helm. Fire up every Falcon and Saint you have this week. It is very likely that this is a shootout that comes right down to the wire.
Who is an intriguing player that most people may not know about?
In relief of RB Devonta Freeman, rookie Ito Smith has performed valiantly. He mixed in last week and showed he is more than capable of being a productive fantasy back. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and is a gifted runner that can shake tacklers with ease. If Freeman continues to miss games, Smith could come into some serious flex value in the coming weeks. If RB Tevin Coleman were to suffer an injury, Ito Smith would be a clearcut number one waiver add.
Julio Jones missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a calf injury. Is this a concern, and if he suits up, will this affect his performance?
The Falcons were cautious with WR Julio Jones all offseason and will continue to do so throughout the year. This is just a precaution after Julio had his calf tighten during the game last Sunday. Look for him to get a limited session in Friday, and be good to go for Sunday’s tilt. He should be started with full confidence as a surefire WR1 and a target machine.
There have been a lot of injuries to the tight end position this year. For those searching for help, is Austin Hooper worth a look?
Absolutely, he is currently the number 11 TE in PPR leagues and has at least four targets within each of the first two games. He seems to be a trusted target of QB Matt Ryan and will likely get looks in the red zone. He has outperformed players like, Kyle Rudolph and Jimmy Graham at the position. You could do a lot worse than taking a flier on Austin Hooper.