Kickoff: Sunday, September 26th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Betting Odds: -3 NE, 43 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Marc Salazar (@oldsnake77 on Twitter and Reddit)
New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston (Sit)
One highly efficient performance by Jameis Winston was enough to declare Winston “fixed” but sadly the enthusiasm didn’t last but a week. Winston completed just 11 of 22 passes and tossed two interceptions in week 2. Winston looked lost for most of the day against a strong Carolina defense and this week he faces an equally strong New England defense. We are still waiting on Winston’s skill players to emerge outside his star running back, and the Saints will look to scale him back to avoid mistakes. Famous Jameis is a risky starter this week, and he should be on the bench in this matchup.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB1)
Last week was such a bad day for the Saints offense as a whole, that it is difficult to take anything away from the week. Alvin Kamara played nearly every snap, but the Saints ran just 43 plays. Kamara’s high snap share may have had more to do with the team getting its best player on the field while in comeback mode, and less about his role moving forward. This week look for Kamara to bounce back and perform as the RB1 we are used to. Since the start of the 2020 season, Kamara has finished as a weekly RB1 76% of his starts. Don’t even think about benching him.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Marquez Callaway (Sit), Juwan Johnson (Sit), Adam Trautman (Sit)
With such little offensive output, there isn’t much to be taken from last week. Marquez Callaway played 73% of the snaps, after 84% in Week 1. Callaway, a fantastic deep threat, has been targetted with just 63 intended air yards on just six targets. Until the Saints begin to dial-up deep shots Callaway cannot be trusted in fantasy lineups.
At tight end, the situation is just as difficult to figure out. Adam Trautman wasn’t targetted in Week 2 and ran fewer routes than Juwan Johnson. The breakout many expected from Trautman will have to wait. Johnson is one to monitor, however. The Saints have found value in the past with players like Jared Cook, and Johnson is seeing the opportunities that Cook has seen in the past. This week, however, both should not be considered starters.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Sit)
Early in the season, the Patriots have put the kid gloves on Mac Jones and he has responded with solid play. However, the Pats have definitely decided that early in the season the team will lean on the running game and limit Jones downfield passing. Jones has an average depth of target of just 5.6 yards through two games, and just one touchdown so far. Jones looks like a promising player, and I fully expect him to improve as the season moves on, but this week he just isn’t ready to put in your lineup.
Damien Harris (Start, Flex), James White (Start, Strong Flex)
By now most fans have seen the awesome run that Damien Harris had last week. It was Harris’s second straight RB2 finish on the season, and unfortunately, this might be his ceiling for the time being. Harris is basically splitting time with James White and while Harris is handling short-yardage and goal-line work, he is primarily a two-down player. This week he faces a tough Saints rush defense, which is allowing just 55 yards per game to primary rushers in their last five games. Harris could struggle in this one, and managers who are hoping to start him this week should only expect a flex performance, with the chance for another score. White however is a strong flex play this week, and in some builds, he can even be trusted as an RB2. White is currently the RB11 in points per game, and he should see plenty of action in this contest.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Start, Flex), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Jonnu Smith (Sit), Hunter Henry (Sit)
On the surface, this does not feel like a great matchup for the Patriots’ passing game. The Saints also have a strong secondary, and the Patriots will not be dialing up the pass attempts with a young signal-caller. Jakobi Meyers is operating as the de facto No. 1 receiver, but the role hasn’t been as productive as we would expect. Meyers is averaging just 41 yards and five catches but has yet to score a touchdown. Early in the season Nelson Agholor has struggled to break out. Last season, Agholor averaged more than 15 yards per target, and that’s down to nine early in the season. Ideally, Nelson thrives as a deep target but his average air yards per target has been cut in half. Until Jones starts to open it up, Agholor should be on the bench.
The Patriots’ big off-season signings of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith have effectively canceled each other out as fantasy options. The team is designing plays for Smith and Henry is operating as a traditional tight end in most sets. The Saints are excellent defending fantasy tight ends. Both tight ends are not good fantasy starts this week.
-Marc Salazar (@oldsnake77)