Kickoff: Sunday, October 4th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Betting Odds: New Orleans -4, 54.5 total via Oddsshark
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees (Start, QB2)
Thus far this season, Drew Brees has looked “off” for lack of a better term. Brees is averaging just more than 253 passing yards per game which is well below his career average as a member of the Saints. His completion percentage is still above 70%, so his accuracy is not a concern, but it doesn’t seem like Brees is pushing the ball down the field as much as in years past. Perhaps the absence of star WR Michael Thomas is a reason, but Brees was able to manage just 160 yards in week one with Thomas albeit against a good Tampa Bay defense. This week, Brees gets a matchup with the Detroit Lions who are in the top half of the league in passing yards against averaging 237 yards against per game. Detroit’s defense is very susceptible to the run and did show some life with a three-interception game last week against the Cardinals. Brees is no longer a plug-and-play starter in traditional leagues but could sneak into low-end QB1 numbers if the Lions can keep the game close. Brees is a fine option in leagues that allow for two starting QBs.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB1), Latavius Murray (Sit)
Heading into the season, fantasy managers expressed concerns over the contract situation between Alvin Kamara and the Saints, and that caused him to slide to later in the first round in leagues that drafted just before the start of the season. All Kamara has done since signing his contract extension is rush for 153 yards and three TDs along with compiling 27 receptions for 285 yards and three more TDs. As mentioned above, Detroit has been susceptible to the run allowing the third-most rushing yards (517) this season and three rushing TDs. Kamara could finish as the #1 overall RB this week and is as close to an auto-start as there is for fantasy managers.
Latavius Murray is more valuable to the Saints than to fantasy managers as long as Kamara is healthy. Murray will see approximately 20 snaps per week but his touches are much less predictable. Murray has 15, five, and 13 touches over his first three games and has generated no more than 65 total yards in a game this season. Unless the Saints build a big lead, and the four-point spread indicates that as unlikely, I can’t recommend fantasy managers do anything other than sitting Murray for this week. That being said, given the spate of injuries across the NFL and the possibility of some COVID-related postponements or cancellations, Murray might be a desperation Flex option for some.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Thomas (Start, WR2 if healthy), Tre’ Quan Smith (Sit), Emmanuel Sanders (Sit), Jared Cook (low-end TE1)
As of this writing, there is hope within the Saints’ organization that Michael Thomas is cleared to return to the field for this week’s matchup. Normally I’m against fully trusting a player coming off a lower-body injury but Thomas is an exception given his usual involvement in the offense. Thomas is still a WR1 for fantasy managers if he plays but be prepared for a lower-end WR1 finish than is customary. Thomas could see limited snaps or be limited physically, lowering his ceiling considerably. Monitor reports on his health throughout the week and if there are no indications of setbacks or a limited workload, roll him out with confidence. If there is a possibility of the team limiting his snaps, he’s best considered as a solid WR2 for this week.
Tre’Quan Smith has been the biggest beneficiary from a volume standpoint with Thomas out, leading the WRs in receptions (10) and receiving yards (132) and was the only WR on the field for all of the team’s 61 snaps in week three. Smith seems to be more in sync with Brees compared to Emmanuel Sanders, which would make sense given the lack of an offseason and Smith’s familiarity with the offense. Unfortunately for Smith and Sanders, Kamara has been a target hog and given the success of that connection, there is no reason to go away from it. As such, both Smith and Sanders are recommended to stay on the benches of fantasy managers in Week 4.
Jared Cook has been inconsistent for fantasy managers thus far and the weekly struggle of whether or not to start him continues this week. The injury to Thomas initially was thought to lift all other Saints receivers but in reality, only Kamara has seen any significant bump in production. Cook has too much talent to relegate him to a solid sit, but he’s right at the bottom of the TE1 tier for me and I wouldn’t blame fantasy managers for replacing him this week. Cook was only on the field for 34% of the team’s snaps in Week 3 which is another reason to consider fading him against Detroit.
Matthew Stafford (Start, QB2)
Matthew Stafford has been consistently OK for fantasy managers this season finishing as a mid-QB2 each week through the first three. Against the Saints, it stands to reason he’ll end up in a similar area as New Orleans is 20th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, giving up 756 yards (252/game). Stafford is averaging just more than 270 yards passing per game but the healthy return of Kenny Golladay last week led him to his most productive game of the season, an encouraging sign for fantasy managers relying on Stafford this season. With Adrian Peterson continuing to defy Father Time and be a productive RB it has taken some of the burdens off Stafford to keep the offense going, lowering his ceiling slightly. As such, Stafford is a fine QB2 in leagues that allow for that option but is a borderline starter in traditional 1QB leagues and I would recommend sitting unless you don’t have a viable alternative.
Adrian Peterson (Start, Flex), Kerryon Johnson (Sit), D’Andre Swift (Sit)
Earlier this week, Lions OC Darrell Bevell indicated Adrian Peterson is going to continue to see a heavy workload as long as the game allows it. I take this to mean as long as the Lions aren’t forced in catch-up mode Peterson should see enough snaps and touches to remain a viable option for fantasy managers. This week, the Lions face a tough test against a Saints run defense that has allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards (300) through three weeks. Detroit will continue to use D’Andre Swift to spell Peterson and may even rotate Kerryon Johnson in at times. Given the tough matchup and the possibility of losing some touches, Peterson is best reserved as a Flex option for fantasy managers in Week 4.
Swift and Johnson won’t see enough snaps or touches to bring any benefit to fantasy managers this week and both are better served on your bench this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Kenny Golladay (Start, WR2), Marvin Jones (Sit, Deep Flex), Danny Amendola (Sit), T.J. Hockenson (Start, TE1)
There was some concern heading into Detroit’s game against Arizona last week that Kenny Golladay would be limited either physically or in his number of snaps in his first game back from a hamstring injury and he did indeed see a reduction in snaps (49 snaps, 73.1%) but rewarded fantasy managers that trusted him with a stat line of 6-57-1. Golladay should not be limited this week and is a solid WR2 as he returns to the top of the WR heap as Stafford’s favorite target. This is projected to be a high-scoring affair (over/under is 54.5) and Golladay provides a WR1 ceiling and can be started with confidence for fantasy managers this week.
Marvin Jones has seen his targets decrease each week this season and is again relegated to #2 WR status with the healthy return of Golladay. Jones did catch all three of his targets last week and almost matched Golladay’s yardage but does not get the consistent volume needed to be a reliable option for fantasy managers. Jones might creep into Flex consideration in very deep leagues but fantasy managers should have better options in traditional leagues. Much like Jones, Danny Amendola doesn’t get enough opportunities to have a big enough game to garner starting consideration from fantasy managers. Amendola does most of his damage in the short and intermediate areas of the field and scores very few TDs. Pass on Amendola for Week 4.
T.J. Hockenson has been the best receiving option for Detroit through three games, leading the team in receptions (13) and receiving yards (171) and seems to have gained the trust of Stafford as a reliable option. The Saints have struggled covering the TEs this season, allowing 290 yards and four TDs to the position. This bodes well for Hockenson as he should be a featured part of the offense this week. Hockenson is a good bet to finish as a TE1 this week and can be started as such for fantasy managers.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)