Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 5
Redskins vs. Saints
Nothing like a nice bye week to just kick up your feet, grab a fruity island style drink, and reeeeeelaxxx “Hey, you guys are playing the Saints coming out of the bye. Oh and Mark Ingram is coming back too”. Spits out Island drink in shock and dismay”Well hell, we’ve got work to do!”. This was what I pictured Jay Gruden doing during the Skins’ early bye week, with the task of marching onto the Saints home turf and outscoring their lethal offense looming large. Luckily for the Redskins, they face a New Orleans defense that has looked quite porous at times. How, then, will the Skins’ fantasy contributors go about trying to keep up with and slow down the Saints dynamic offense? Let’s find out….
Get Ready for Peak Alex Smith
After digging into the Saints defensive numbers, I seemed to find a very odd discrepancy in the way they defend the pass vs how they defend the run: the Saints allow the HIGHEST passing yards per attempt (9.6), while somehow holding offenses to the LOWEST yards per rushing attempt (3.2) through a quarter of the season. And I thought the Eagles’ defense was a one trick pony….Anyway, that means seasoned veteran Alex Smith will likely be seeing “FREE YARDS HERE” signs all over the field in this one, passing often and spreading the ball around to the litany of options he has at his disposal. Speaking of those options…
Unlike Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen, No One is #1
In all seriousness though, through four games this team truly lacks a #1 receiver. A banged up Paul Richardson appears to be the most likely to fill that role in any given week, but even he has not seen anything close to the target share of a #1 receiver (he’s getting ~5 per game). The next most likely guy, Josh Doctson, had his foot stomped in practice and is now unlikely to play in Monday’s game, and the distant third down the line, Jamison Crowder, appears to be nothing more than a reliable slot option. If anything, the defacto #1 receiver role has fallen into the lap of the now healthy TE Jordan Reed. Anyway, with the Skins likely needing to score at least 20-24 points against a team with a strong affinity for stopping the run, the production will have to come from somewhere. I’m inclined to believe Richardson will flash for a deep play or two, but will be mostly quiet during his date with Marshon Lattimore. Instead, the trio of Reed, Crowder, and Vernon Davis will be responsible for gashing the Saints passing defense to the best of their ability. Look for solid games from all three given the circumstances.
Running Away From the Run?
With the HUGE disparity in how the Saints defend team’s offenses, and the Saints likely going ahead at some point in this game, one would think Jay Gruden will shy away from the usual 20+ carries he has liked to give Adrian Peterson. That being said, this seemingly solid rush defense for the Saints could very well be a byproduct of the team’s they have faced through the first four games: in terms of rushing yards per attempt, they have faced the #1 team in the Browns, but have faced the 21st, 28th, and 30th ranked teams as well in the Falcons, Giants, and Bucs respectively. I can say with confidence that none of these teams flaunt the type of dominant, and presumably more healthy coming off of their bye week, offensive line that the Redskins do. I believe this will be the premier matchup in Monday’s game and the combination of AP and Chris Thompson will be the difference. Of course, look for Chris Thompson to be his usual productive self in the passing game, but also look for AP and the Skins to buck the trend of the Saints rushing defense and break 100 yards on the ground on the day.
If you went back and referenced my Week 3 “What We Saw” piece on the Redskins fine defensive performance, you would see a suggestion by me which reads, essentially, as follows: “The Redskins will get the Saints in week 5 coming off of their bye. Don’t start them for that game, but pick them up for their subsequent three games as a solid streaming defense”. It seems the bye week hasn’t done much to change that opinion!
A Glimpse Into the Future
This game should end up being one of the best of the week, as last week’s Monday night game was. Look for the Saints to open up scoring early against a particularly stout Washington defense, only for the latter to settle in and hold the Saints scoreless for a good 10 minutes of gametime. The Skins will stay in this one through seemingly effortless passing by Alex Smith to the likes of Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder, while bashing in the teeth of the Saints D with a flurry vicious rushes on the part of AP. In the end, the Redskins defense cannot contain the litany of weapons at Drew Brees’ disposal as the Saints march down the field 80 yards for the game winning TD late in the 4th quarter and the Redskins fall in the Superdome.
Alex Smith: 31/41, 355 yards, 3 TDs
Paul Richardson: 3 rec, 60 yards
Jamison Crowder: 7 rec, 75 yards, 1 TD
Maurice Harris (Doctson’s purported replacement): 2 rec, 24 yards
Jordan Reed: 8 rec, 95 yards
Vernon Davis: 4 rec, 55 yards, 1 TD
Adrian Peterson: 17 car, 92 yards, 1 TD, 2 rec, 12 yards
Chris Thompson: 5 car, 30 yards, 4 rec, 30 yards 1 rec TD
FINAL: 31-28 Saints
A Monday night matchup against a tough NFC opponent will give the Saints a chance to prove to everyone that they are once again super bowl contenders. Below I will answer some question regarding the Saints fantasy outlook for this week.
The question everyone is asking… What will this offense look like with Mark Ingram?
Today I read a fantasy article giving lineup advice for this week and the blurb about Drew Brees basically went like this “Drew Brees threw for less than 200 yards twice last year. It is not a coincidence that Mark Ingram had over 100 yards in those two games.” Please wipe this thinking from your brain. Those two games (52-38 against Detriot and 38-10 against Buffalo) were games that got out of hand very quickly in favor of the Saints. The Detroit game had 4 turnovers, two defensive touchdowns, and a missed field goal. The Saints were up by 24 and punted 6 of their last 7 drives. Buffalo had 3 points until 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The game script favored the run game. It is that simple. Some might say that the run game keeps the defense off the field and helps keep scoring low. In those games, there were three drives that lasted more than 4 minutes for the Saints. In those three drives, Brees combined for over 200 yards. All of them came early in the game when the Saints needed to score and therefore were more efficient on offense which resulted in longer drives. Here are the bullet points:
– The Saints defense has been bad and does not seem to be getting better anytime soon
– The Saints have passed more because they have been giving up points, not the other way around
– Mark Ingram does not change either of these two facts
– The Saints offense will always run through Drew Brees when they need points
The biggest change will be the goal line offense. The Saints loved Ingram near the goal line and usually strike a good balance between running the ball and passing in that scenario. Alvin Kamara has gotten plenty of goal-line carries (and did last year) so he has the most to lose with Ingram coming back. That being said, the Saints game script should lean heavily towards Kamara as a receiver anyway and his value remains high.
Drew Brees: 300 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int
Alvin Kamara: 8 carries, 40 yards; 9 catches, 85 yards, TD
Mark Ingram: 13 carries, 60 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 15 yards
Michael Thomas: 10 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD
Ted Ginn Jr.: 4 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD
Cameron Meredith: 4 catches, 35 yards
What are the matchups to look out for this week?
The Redskins defensive line, headed by veteran Ryan Kerrigan, has been solid all year. This week they will be going up against an elite Saints offensive line which will be one of the bigger matchups of the game. The tackle duo of Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead have been excellent in pass protection all year and I expect them to handle this Redskins front.
Can the Saints find a second corner?
I feel as if I have said this every week. Ken Crawley has allowed a ridiculous perfect passer rating when targeted. Perfect. He has been almost impossibly bad. Last year Crawley was a solid second cornerback but this year he looks like a fifth grader. So what is going on? This is one of the strange things about football. Defensive backs have limited opportunities to prove themselves and often can go a full season without showing their true talent level. Either way, we should expect some positive regression for the second corners on this team. While this might keep the Saints from being an atrocious team, it does seem that this defense will struggle most of the year. This is good news for Saints fantasy owners on the offensive side of the ball.