*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
I ‘saved’ this game for last to report on this week because nothing special happened in it, so it appeared, from a fantasy perspective that so was eye-opening or jarring. The Saints and Falcons got in a shootout and one of them pulled it out with the last bullet in OT. The Saints defense is terrible, and the Falcons defense is crushed by injury, so a pinball game broke out and the Saints have Drew Brees, who is better than Matt Ryan at pinball.
Either team could have won or lost. Man…are the Saints lucky to not be 0-3. Yet, somehow they are 2-1. They are a BAD football team right now…propped up by Brees.
Fantasy Player Notes:
-- Calvin Ridley (7-146-3/8) had a game for the ages. I re-watched this game studying him most of all. The Saints benched successful-in-2017-but-not-2018 slot cover Ken Crawley and the Falcons attacked his replacement for 2+ quarters. Eventually, they started putting Marcus Lattimore on Ridley some to stop the bleeding and it did…at least, the Ridley bleeding.
I didn’t see Ridley doing anything special besides being good, getting open on the worst pass defense in the NFL with a backup slot cover guy, and he made a few deep ball plays and one luckier TD on a broken red zone play. I don’t want to detract from Ridley – he’s a very good slot WR. He’s like T.Y. Hilton/Golden Tate kinda guys – good, productive, fantasy depends upon target levels. This just wasn’t a ‘wow’ game like the stat line indicates.
Matt Ryan always seems to defer back to Julio. The Falcons’ #2 WR typically gets erratic targeting and production over time…Sanu and Hardy and Gabriel never really broke-out with Ryan. I get that Ridley is different – he has ‘draft status’, but also consider that he played at Alabama…with current O-C Steve Sarkisian. He has the O-C’s ear/relationship.
Ridley can be a WR2 in PPR this year…but more a WR2.5. If you can get WR1.5 money for him, you can consider it a smart piece to be part of a trade puzzle to snag something bigger you want…Ridley + __ for ___ (Tyreek? DJ?).
-- Falcons rookie RB Ito Smith (2 carries for -6 yards, 3-41-0/4) is a name to play for the super-desperate when Devonta Freeman is out. Smith got 9 carries and a catch Week 2 in his debut. He got 3 catches and 2 carries here on just 10 snaps. If you’re reduced to playing backup RBs for desperation touches…he’s one to consider, I guess. He disappears the second Freeman is cleared.
-- Cam Meredith (1-11-1/1) is a professional WR and his role will only grow with the Saints each game. He played 43% of the snaps here. Three things come to mind watching him here…
1) Shootout game, about half the offensive snaps played… and just one target. It will take time for Cam to get settled into anything FF-viable.
2) Meredith is a nice red zone threat with his size and athleticism. The TDs will likely come faster than the catches/PPR work.
3) As Meredith’s role increases, Ted Ginn takes a minor hit…from WR3 to more WR3.5. A hail mary play he gets the lightning strike long ball from Brees (that they rarely connect on).
-- Alvin Kamara (16-66-0, 15-124-0/20) getting 20 targets in a game is sick. It doesn’t matter what argument you want to get in on him…super-talent or target-made-star. It doesn’t matter because he is getting 10-15+ targets a game and teams still don’t really shadow him well, except Carolina seems to be getting smart about it.
PPR-wise, he’s Chris Thompson on steroids.
-- Matt Ryan (26-35 for 374 yards, 5 TDs/0 INTs) doesn’t have games like this often. He never threw for more than 2 TDs all 2017 season, nor his first two weeks this season. This is all about how poorly coaches, poorly playing the Saints are on defense. It’s an embarrassment.
I mention this for two reasons…
1) You sell Matt Ryan hot, if you have him for some reason. He’s only super-jacked up in YTD FF-scoring because he scored two rushing TDs in Week 2 (and this game)…which never ever happens.
2) All-in on Eli Manning (if you need a QB spark for 1 week) + OBJ + Sterling Shepard…especially Shepard this week vs. NO…he’ll be in the role Week 4 that Ridley was this game.
-- Damontae Kazee (10 tackles) didn’t hit someone so hard that he got kicked out of a game or knocked his own self out for a few plays – and he responded with 10 tackles. He’s going to play as a starter for several weeks with all ATL’s safety injuries and he’ll produce tackle counts for IDP in the 8-10+ per game range.
-- RB Dwyane Washington got called up this week for the Saints…and they cut RB David Williams. Hmmm. Not sure what they’re thinking with Ingram returning Week 5. They might bounce Gillislee and go Ingram-Kamara-DW? Washington offers special teams options…and is potentially really, really good. If Kamara went down…
Don’t get me started.
Snap Counts of Interest:
59 = Sanu
54 = Julio
42 = Ridley
52 = Tevin C
10 = Ito S.
76 = Mk Thomas
51 = Ginn
43 = Meredith
26 = Tre’Quan Smith
34 = Marcus Davenport
18 = Foye Oloukun
12 = Isaiah Oliver