*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
This was a weird game. Could’ve gone either way. The Saints felt like the better team all day, but not by much…and the weather helped neutralize the Saints some. New Orleans embarked on a 10-minute, million-play drive to start the game, converting two 4th-downs, and getting to another 4th & 1 at the goal line and got stopped. A 10-minute drive to start the game vs. the vaunted Ravens defense…but no points. It’s been that kind of year for the Ravens on defense.
Baltimore led 10-7 at the half…17-7 after three quarters, but then the Saints went on a tear and took the lead. The Ravens scored late to line up for the tying XP, from Justin Tucker who has yet to miss an XP in his career…and he split the uprights, initially, and then the ball sliced right like God grabbed it to pull it away. The most bizarre looking XP miss I’ve seen, mostly because it was JUSTIN TUCKER. He never misses…
The Saints win, go to 5-1 and my over-under win total preseason bet on ‘over’ 9.5 wins looks like gold. Tough schedule ahead. 12-4 is our projection…with a bias towards 11-5 more than 13-3.
The Ravens fall to 4-3, and as I’ve been saying – the midseason schedule would ‘get them’. It started with this loss to the Saints. Huge turning point at Carolina Week 8…win that and likely be a playoff team. Lose Week 8 and then lose Week 9 to Pittsburgh -- and the Ravens will fall to 4-5 and an 8-8 finish. The Ravens desperately need to win one of their next two games. If they beat the Steelers Week 9…they have the clear lane to an AFC North title.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The weird thing from this game, or me, was noticing how much the Kamara-Ingram backfield is flopping for fantasy this year. After being simultaneous top 5-7 guys most of last season…it’s nothing like that the last few weeks this year.
Alvin Kamara (17-64-1, 2-11-0/2) has been at/under 75 combined yards in the two games since Mark Ingram returned…and just 1 TD. Odd for AK because he’s usually stacking stats always. Also, just 3.3 catches per game the past three weeks after 10.0 catches per game the first 3 weeks.
I wouldn’t call Kamara a looming bust, but I’m just noticing he’s falling back to earth bit-by-bit the past few games, especially with Ingram back. Week 5 it was game flow, Week 7…maybe blame the Ravens defense. I’d buy Kamara low…he’s about as low as he can get maybe. He’s gone from PPR untouchable to willing to deal…fear of Ingram a little bit, weaker results lately adding fuel to the fire.
Mark Ingram (12-32-0, 2-10-0/2) is not stealing any major stats from Kamara. He’s averaging 14.0 carries per game and just 3.0 yards per carry…and just 2.0 catches per game.
It’s probably a ‘blip’ for Kamara…but Ingram, I never trust Ingram because I don’t think he’s that great a player. So far, unimpressive in his return…besides two gift TDs Week 5.
-- I am concerned, and have been since the preseason, that the return of Ingram-Kamara as a duo would drop Drew Brees’s (22-30 for 212 yards, 2/ TDs/0 INT) numbers like they did in 2017…PLUS the numbers/opportunities the Taysom Hill fetish by Sean Payton is taking.
Brees was good, but down off normal performances…but it’s too soon to say if Ingram-Kamara-Taysom are to blame. This game was against a top defense outdoors in the colder weather -- where the Saints usually flounder.
-- I’m not into TreQuan Smith (3-44-0/6) for fantasy 2018. I mean, I know he’s playing and getting some targets but he’s not better than Ted Ginn was, and I don’t see any signs of Smith as a weapon…just a guy ‘available’/on the field, so he gets some work. I still see just a WR3-4 here with random TDs to make him good for a week.
Cameron Meredith (0-0-0/0) had been progressing in targets for a couple weeks and then this…nothing. 18 snaps and no targets. Pretty strong evidence there’s not a Meredith uprising about to happen. I’m done with Cam here until I see consistency – and that may not come until 2019.
-- Ben Watson (6-43-1/6) is trying to sneak his way into the TE1 conversation. Four or more catches in four of his 6 games this season…3.8 rec. (4.7 targets), 38.3 yards, 0.2 TDs per game this season, a fringe TE1, more TE2. However, 4.0 rec. and 41.7 yards per game the past 4 games…his numbers keep creeping upwards.
Dan Arnold (2-35-0/3) is a younger, WR-to-TE Saints’ convert project who got his first NFL catches of his career this game. Arnold would never takeover the starting TE job this year, but he is working his way in as a passing game TE…like maybe plays 30-40% of the snaps in the future, all in the passing game. He might jump into a TE2 conversation before long.
-- Not much to say about the Ravens from this game. My only note is that Javorius Allen (3-3-0, 3-21-0/3) is putting up some horrific rushing tallies lately. 4 carries for 4 yards the past two weeks, total. 2.6 yards per carry this season.
Also, 3 or fewer catches in a game in four of his last 5 games.
What looked like a potential ‘best Ravens RB’ a few weeks ago has turned into ‘OK top drop’ all the sudden.
-- This game marks four out of their 5 games of solid DST performance out of the Saints-DST. It doesn’t matter – the schedule is going to erase any hopes ahead here. MIN-LAR-CIN-PHI-ATL the next five weeks…no, thanks.
Snap Counts of Interest:
32 = Boyle
26 = Andrews
20 = Williams
18 = Hurst
30 = Allen
28 = Collins
07 = Edwards
36 = Watson
12 = Arnold
39 = Kamara
35 = Ingram