What We Saw: Week 8
Saints vs. Vikings
If you read my game preview of this week I was pretty far off. I expected a shootout between two high powered offenses which would, in turn, lead to plenty of fantasy points for the Saints players. Outside of RB Alvin Kamara, nobody on the Saints had the exceptional week I was expecting.
The Offense Follows Drew Brees
When QB Drew Brees puts forward a subpar effort the offense follows. Brees threw his first interception of the season and only managed to find the end zone one time. Sometimes even Drew Brees does not need to carry his team and this game is an example of that. The Saints took advantage of a few key turnovers—one of which went for a touchdown—which meant that Brees did not need to throw the ball to win the game. The good news for Brees moving forward is that the Saints defense did not actually play that well on Sunday. The second corner position was still a problem as the Vikings went after CB Eli Apple the entire game. I still expect most Saints games to be high scoring affairs that will result in plenty of opportunity for Brees and the rest of the offense.
Kamara Steals the Show
RB Alvin Kamara got back to his elite fantasy ways this week getting into the end zone twice and totaling 75 scrimmage yards. He out-touched RB Mark Ingram II and saw a whopping 8 targets in this game. The Saints knew that the Vikings linebackers would struggle in coverage consequently challenged them. Kamara also scored on a goal-line carry, which many owners feared they would not see from Kamara once Ingram returned to the backfield. While Ingram is the goal line back, Kamara will also get enough carries to score a significant amount of touchdowns. Kamara remains the running back to own in this backfield and this week is a better indication of his value with Ingram on the field as compared to the prior two weeks.
The Receiver Update
WR Michael Thomas had a solid, yet unspectacular game as he ended with 5 catches for 81 yards. This is one of those games that was better in real life than it was in fantasy but that is okay. Thomas is the clear number one in the offense and that is not changing. WR Cameron Meredith, for a second consecutive week, went without a target. WR Tre’Quan Smith has taken over as the number two wideout in this offense, which is a great sign for Smith owners. Despite a lackluster week, this game provided further clarity on the situation with Smith being a huge benefactor. At this point, Thomas is a solid WR1 while Smith is sneaking into WR3 territory (with WR2 upside) TE Benjamin Watson and WR Cameron Meredith have not been great options all year and that is not likely to change given their current usage.
Eli Apple and the Defense
On paper the defense played well, forcing some major turnovers and even scoring a touchdown but the box score does not tell the story. As I mentioned early, CB Eli Apple who was recently acquired from the Giants was exposed opposite of CB Marshon Lattimore. He allowed all eight of the passes thrown his way to be caught, giving up 79 yards and allowing five first downs. It was his first week in a new defense so I am not ready to give up, however, this was not very encouraging for the defense. If Apple can play better this defense becomes a solid option with a good matchup but until that happens, stay away.
Random Update of the Week
I would like to highlight the play of both RT Ryan Ramczyk and LT Terron Armstead. They rank 2nd and 3rd among all lineman according to Pro Football Focus. This is an absolutely tremendous feat as these two have become the best tackle duo on the NFL hands down. This kind of elite tackle play can be a huge driver of success for an NFL offense. Adding a hall of fame quarterback, an elite receiver and two impressive running backs to the equation make this offense seem unstoppable. The second half of the season is looking good for the Saints.
The Vikings fell to 4-3-1 at home as the Saints proved to be too much for them. This one wasn’t a great game for the Vikings as the score looks closer than the game actually was. There were, however, some great takeaways from this game as we will see.
Cousins, the Turnover King
Well, he did it again. It is hard to say that one person loses a team a game, but QB Kirk Cousins likes to be the one to blame. Down just a touchdown late in the third quarter, Cousins threw a ball to PJ Williams, who plays for the Saints by the way, and it was taken the other way 45 yards for the touchdown, crushing the Vikings chances for the most part. Cousins just can’t seem to get out of his own way and it is costing his team. This is something that must change if the VIkings are going to be contenders, as the defense is not bailing them out as much this year as last. Vikings faithful are running low on patience with the turnovers from their quarterback.
HE DID IT!
The lone bright spot in the Vikings loss was that WR Adam Thielen put up another 100 yard game, hanging 7/103/1 on the Saints. He now ties former Lions WR Calvin Johnson, also known as “Megatron” for the most consecutive games with 100 yards receiving, sitting at 8 games. The Vikings get the Lions next week and there is no doubt in my mind that they force feed Thielen in order to get him the record. He deserves it as he is on pace for 150/1800/12 on the year, which would be insane! Enjoy the ride if you have him in fantasy because I forsee him being on a bunch of championship teams this year as he was a third rounder in most leagues.
What is the outlook for next week?
The Vikings take on the Lions next week and I envision a shootout to ensue. QBs Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford are both gunslingers and they both have the weapons to sling it to. With both defenses laboring a bit against opposing passers, there is a chance that this game is one of the higher scoring affairs of the week. I predict that the Vikings will add a tally in the win column and keep in contention for their division and they will have a fun night out celebrating Thielen’s accomplishment.