Wow, what a mess the Saints were in this game. I don't know how much of this game was how bad New Orleans's execution and game plan was, or how much of it was Sam Bradford looks like the greatest quarterback in the history of modern football…the same exact way he did in his debut game last season.
There's something to be said for these out of nowhere QB performances in Week 1 – Alex Smith's best (freakishly good) games are on his last three opening days and now Sam Bradford has done the same two years in a row. I wonder if the 4+ months of planning this game exhaust all the creativity and tendencies, and then opponents figure things out quickly and the coaches don't adjust so these low-level QBs having amazing week ones follow that with 15 up-and-down but mostly mediocre performances. How come Alex Smith and Sam Bradford don’t look like this every week? How about just every other week? Why is it just one game with 4+ months to prepare for it? Just a thought.
I love that this game has started to expose Sean Payton as a different version of Jeff Fisher. Coaches who have been living off a reputation that the real results for 5+ years don't support. Sean Payton was unique many years ago but since then, possessing a Hall of Fame quarterback, he can't produce winning records in a season. Sean Payton is getting exposed, and Pete Carroll will soon. Mike Zimmer was exposed last year and he will again this year – he just fortunately matched up with a coach worse than him in Week 1. When a Mike Zimmer led team out innovates Sean Payton offensively – it's time to get rid of Sean Payton. It's been time for a while. The NFL needs less Sean Payton's and Mike Zimmer's and more Sean McVay's.
Exactly what I feared would happen to the Saints in 2017, and to Drew Brees for Fantasy purposes, happened in this game. It's why the Saints lost – because despite the score -- the general feel of this one, when I re-watched it and even when I watched it the first time, I didn't think New Orleans was getting outclassed all that much. The Saints could've won this game had they never signed Adrian Peterson and felt like they needed to become a run-first team. The Saints decided the lead punch of ancient Adrian Peterson and no athleticism Mike Thomas was the way to win the Super Bowl. No need for Brandin Cooks. Now, the Saints are going to suffer for that decision. Sean Payton will finally lose his job at the end of the year because of it. Sean Payton is too smart for you that's why he doesn't need Brandin Cooks or Jimmy Graham. You're too dumb to understand. You're just a silly fantasy football player/fan.
I'm really going to be interested in seeing what these two teams do in Week 2 – especially the Vikings. Minnesota's O-Line blocking seemed reborn. Sam Bradford had all day to throw. I don't know if it's because Minnesota has fixed its line issues or if the Saints just can't rush the passer. I have a feeling this could be a bit of a head fake from the Vikings because the Saints are so poorly planned and coached.
Who thought possessing Drew Brees made it a great idea to build an offense around Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram? This is as dumb as the Green Bay Packers trying to build around Eddie Lacy with Aaron Rodgers handing off too much. If I hear one more time how much such and such coach wants to get back to smash mouth football and controlling the other team by running the ball I'm going to lose my mind. Has anyone learned anything from what the Patriots are doing with the running backs or how Green Bay nearly won a Super Bowl with a third string defense last year? That's why I think Sean McVay will have huge success in Los Angeles – he doesn't come to the party with some stupid machismo about a pounding running game. That's so 1980s. All college programs are doing is innovatively throwing the ball constantly and lining up players at all kinds of different positions – and these college kids are so ready out of the box for the NFL passing game, but then they enter the league to find Mike Zimmer is there a coach or Jeff Fisher. It's a step backward for top prospects in today's NFL. It should be no surprise Jared Goff looks excellent in his first season working with Sean McVay look like a bust under Jeff Fisher. It wasn't Goff's issue – it was the plan from the coach.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the Vikings handled the Saints in this game. But I don't think it was as bad as it seemed…but the Saints do suck and everyone will be fired at the end of the season.
Fantasy player notes…
-- Dalvin Cook (22-127, 3-10-0/5) ran for over 100+ yards opening day and now he's been enshrined into the Football Hall of Fame. I don't get it. I don't see it and I don't get it.
Now, I realize Dalvin Cook has legit NFL open field speed. With the head of steam and some open space, Cook will do good things – just like any number of a hundred other running backs would do. The problem with Cook is when he's forced to hesitate for whatever reason, he slows down way too much and doesn't have the ability to speed up quickly. If you just watch Jerick McKinnon move in the same exact game as Dalvin Cook here, they're not even on the same planet for athleticism. However, one guy has all the media backing in hysteria so the team is going to fall right in line with that. The other guy will anonymously leave in free agency at the end of the year, join the Patriots and become the next Tarik Cohen/Tyreek Hill type player and the Patriots will win another Super Bowl and everyone will keep scratching their head wondering how the Patriots keep doing this?
I have no doubt that Dalvin Cook will have a decent fantasy season because he's going to be force-fed every touch they can get him. Regardless of results and regardless of how well McKinnon might be playing. That's just how it works in the NFL. I want to see what Dalvin Cook does against better run defenses. I think he's going to struggle. He has very shaky hands in the passing game. He can't run between the tackles unless it's wide open for him not to stop. He's not a big brawler sized RB. He's going to be a disappointment eventually, but right now the day is his because he ran for 100+ yards in his rookie debut on national TV.
Just a note – if you watch the first two quarters or so of this game when it was still a game – you'll see exactly what I mean with Cook. You may have realized it live watching it. Wondering what's so special about this guy? Once the game got out of hand and the momentum had fully gone to Minnesota, the Saint started rolling over and just like in the Chief–Patriots game…once the defenses quit, average running backs went wild running the ball. Because it happened in Week 1 with a rookie on national TV, everyone's going to multiply this result times 16 and use that for Cook's fantasy projections for the next decade. At least for this week.
Cook had two 4th quarter runs of 32 and 33 yards (one with a minute+ left), he had 62 yards on 20 carries (3.1 ypc) otherwise. 3.1 ypc in the bulk of his work when it mattered against the lowly Saints. I can do this all day people.
Just to clear the notes about running backs for the Vikings – Latavius Murray (2-6-0) might as well take a nap for the next four months because he'll barely play. He's paid as a top 10 running back and he'll be working third string because of rookie hysteria. He has zero value in Fantasy right now. Great signing by the Vikings. Really smart.
-- Let's just keep my anger going – Have I ever told you how much Michael Thomas (5-45-0/8) sucks as a #1 wide receiver? But he's not a #1 WR for the Saints…or any team? I know Michael Thomas belongs in the NFL and is a nice little possession receiver to work in an ensemble but you have to be a complete fool to install him as your top guy in your offense – Sean Payton is just that fool. Many fantasy GMs were that fool that took him in the top 15 in a redraft.
You can thank me later for steering you clear of this guy. Again, not that he stinks. He's just not a #1 wide receiver her. He's not better than Allen Hurns. He's the fourth best, no wait I forgot about Travis Rudolph, he's the fifth best wide receiver on the New York Giants right now. If you count Evan Engram as a wide receiver, Michael Thomas is the six best wide receiver on the Giants – but he's the Saints #1 WR. That's all you need to know about how pathetically the Saints are run.
You tell me… You saw this game. If you were an NFL GM, would you rather have Adam Thielen or Michael Thomas? I rest my case. Michael Thomas couldn't hold Adam Thielen's jock strap as an NFL wide receiver. But 'draft status' and 'Ohio State' get you pushed as a top 15 fantasy prospect and becoming the Saints #1 wide receiver, while Adam Theilen scratched and clawed his way to stay on an NFL roster and finally got his chance. The NFL is so ridiculous. These things are so obvious to those of you reading this. I'm tired of having to keep pointing it out. However, I have to because the media is so powerful that it sways fantasy decision-making or just our daily emotions…even for us. Most everything you've read that I've written this year and last year and the year before – why don't more people copycat exactly what I say in the media? Because I'm on an island with my scouting all alone versus the entire football community. It's human nature to stick with the pack and dismiss the Lonewolf with no NFL ties. So keep pointing it out I will.
-- Speaking of Adam Thielen (9-157-0/10) – how good was that? All anyone is talking about is Dalvin Cook, but the obvious best player on that offense is Thielen…and it's not even close. That was one of the most masterful games of wide receiver play I've ever seen. Which is why I've said for a couple years now – Thielen is the next Jordy Nelson. I didn't say that because they're both white and tall and play in the NFC North. Well, maybe because they're both white…but they're both excellent receivers, 'plus' athletes with great hands and terrific body positioning to make catches. Imagine if Michael Thomas was really good – that's how good Adam Thielen is.
-- I can't claim any genius status in this game because I told you this is the game Ted Ginn (4-53-0/5, 1-5-0) racks up the most numbers in. He didn't. He almost had a pretty hot game, but it was not to be. He had a target in the end zone for a score but got bumped off his route as the throw came his way. Ginn is not meant to play the Willie Snead role. Ginn needs to be a field stretcher. Ginn also got a handoff in the red zone and had a nice run to pay dirt but not enough blocking to punch it in. In another world, Ginn might've had 1-2 TDs in this game despite not really being a featured player, per se.
Time to give up on Ginn? I don't think so. I expect him to score at least eight TDs this season. That's one every two games. If he doesn't do anything in 3–4 games then we got trouble. We'll see about whether he starts for you next week, but I'm not giving up on him after one game against a good defense and still almost stole a TD or two.
-- I'm not gonna get into any huge detail about Adrian Peterson (6-18-0). His play spoke for itself and his sideline antics were not anything new. Sean Payton brought this problem onto himself for reasons I still don't get it.
I will say this – Adrian Peterson didn't look very good to me at all. His arms were flailing all over the place as he ran, not the fluid movement locomotive of the past. When he moved east-west things really slowed down. You just can't outrun father time. AP can still contribute, but if you think the younger Adrian Peterson is hiding in there somewhere – I don't think he is. I never close the door on Adrian Peterson but I've got my hand on the doorknob and I'm about to push it into the doorframe.
Here's my big takeaway on the Saints RB situation – I felt the entire time like Alvin Kamara (7-18-0, 4-20-0/6) was the most important guy to the coaching staff/offense. Now, they did push Adrian Peterson too much because' versus Vikings'. So AP got to start and wasted everyone's time. But after AP it was Kamara entering the game. It was Kamara popping up in the middle parts of the game when there was still hope. At the very end, when Drew Brees did with Drew Brees does – rack numbers late in defeat, which you for FF, then Mark Ingram (6-17-0, 5-54-0/5) got a bunch of dump passes a la Shane Vereen on Sunday night versus Dallas. There was no plan for Ingram. He might as well not even been on the team. It was an AP push for sentimental reasons and then Alvin Kamara getting a push. That's why I have Kamara ranked well on our 'players to get off waivers' report on Tuesday (in regular 12-team/15-16 roster leagues). AP will be released soon and it will be Kamara that leads the Saints backfield for fantasy PPR numbers. Not Ingram.
-- JWolfe, IDP guru, was right – A.J. Klein (11 tackles, 1 TFL) was the one to work for IDP, not my pick – Alex Anzalone (2 tackles, 1 PD). At least for this week.
Snap Counts of Interest:
31 = Kamara
26 = Ingram
9 = Peterson
65 = A.J. Klein
48 = Anzalone
51 = Dalvin
11 = McKinnon
3 = Latavius
16 = Ben Gedeon
0 = Eric Wilson