The final score was 36-20 New England Patriots, but really it was more of a butt-kicking than the score indicated. The game was 20-3 and 36-13 at various points. The Patriots were in virtual cruise control. We all expected a bounce back, mostly, and that's exactly what happened for the Pats against the New Orleans Saints.
Not much more you can say about this game, topside. It went about as expected. The Patriots are good and the Saints are not…we knew that going in and nothing has changed.
Fantasy player notes…
-- What's up with Brandin Cooks (2-37-0/4, 2-6-0)? I'm not sure, but I see 'what might have been' moments to comfort me and I also see reason to be nervous (because that's what you do in fantasy...worry).
Opening day, Week 1, Cooks had a few targets nullified with obvious pass interference against him… ones that held back an extra 50-75-100+ yards and perhaps 1-2 scores. This week, he had a clear TD… burned his man off the snap, was wide open, Brady saw it and threw it too soft and Cooks had to hit the ground on a slide to catch the low pass one-yard shy of paydirt. Normally, Brady hits him in stride and an easy six. I see all the 'what might have been moments' so far.
However, I'm nervous because none of this is going his way and the targeting is much lower than I expected. There's no visible connection yet between Brady-Cooks. He's just a part of the ensemble. I think Cooks will become 'the guy,’ but I'm worried I haven't seen any signs of it.
I still want to buy low, but I'm nervously doing it…and not pulling the trigger unless it’s a no-brainer. Some deals I'll pay the price for (like Tarik Cohen or Ty Montgomery or Evan Engram), but with Cooks right now I can wait.
If Cooks doesn't show something Week 3 against a team that may be missing all its corners…then it's time to get worried that this will be randomly 'good' and not consistently 'great'.
-- One quick thing on Tom Brady (30-39 for 447 yards, 3 TD/0 INT)…
If he does hit Cooks for that easy score…4 TDs in this game. Brady just missed 3-4 TDs opening day as well on pass plays falling just short leading to 'gimme' TDs for Mike Gillislee. We're are inches from Brady having 7 passing TDs and Gillislee on waivers as a huge disappointment.
Brady is circling the wagons on 'one of those years.' The schedule gets easier ahead.
Brady may be the most valuable player in all fantasy this year, especially in 6pts per pass TD leagues.
But listen to the fantasy experts… take any old QB later in the fantasy draft.
-- Rex Burkhead (2-3-0, 3-41-1/4) scored a TD, and that made all of us who took a late round shot at him feel good… but after two weeks of observing Rex in his new home, I'm moving on if I need to.
I led the drumbeat to grab Rex as a flyer late in drafts… a shot to get a guy who could be a receiver out of the backfield and the bigger back near the goal line. I'm now the Pied Piper of getting out of town. I hate to say it, but I have to call it as I see it -- Rex is falling short of my dreams and aspirations.
He's not as good a short yardage guy as Mike Gillislee. He's not as quick a catch and run guy as James White. He's crafty as a downfield threat out of the backfield, because of excellent hands, but he's just not quick enough to make Gillislee and White go away on the more juicy fantasy plays. Rex is playing 8-9 snaps in a game, and his TD this week and near TDs Week 1 have come on tricky plays throwing him longer passes. That's his role -- a surprise sprung on the defense. He'll probably get 1-2 shots at gold a week and then gone. You have to hope he converts. I could see him getting 5-7 TDs this season, but without many yards, catches, snaps.
Unless Gillislee gets hurt, I can't get that excited for Rex. He's a good player but in a crowded fantasy spot… a different cluster than what Chris Carson finds himself in. Surrounded by other specialists… your fantasy upside is limited.
I've told you to get in. Now, I'm telling you it's OK to get out. It's OK to hold, but it's OK to get out based on what I see so far.
-- I'd rather have James White (2-11-0, 8-85-0/8) than Rex Burkhead (file that under 'words I never thought I’d type in 2017 or ever'). White is playing more snaps, he's getting more work in the passing game… all the 'catch and run' stuff. I bet on Rex… but the proper bet was 'James White'. I missed it.
-- Alvin Kamara (1-3-0, 3-51-0/7) will be the James White for the Saints at some point this season: a couple of handoffs and 5-10 targets in games. The old Darren Sproles. Whatever cliché you want to put on it, it fits. Kamara is the guy to have making those simple safety valve catches Brees loves to deploy… on a team that will be down and in shootouts a bunch this season.
Kamara and White are not special talents, just 'solid/OK/good' but in the right place at the right time. Either of these guys on Jacksonville or the Jets… you would barely know they existed.
-- Before you jump off a cliff hating Ted Ginn (3-24-0)... it was another week with two near-miss TDs. If you're scoring at home, that’s 4 near-miss TDs on the season.
In this game, Ginn had his hands on a throw in the end-zone running backwards on a great timing throw but the CB hit Ginn as he caught it, a great timing play by the DB, and the ball kicked loose. It was not a drop just a nice play by the DB to recover on Ginn open for a score. Later, Ginn beat his man off the line and was headed to the end zone and Brees saw it right away but had his hand hit as he threw and the ball sailed wide. Not a hit arm for Brees, and it's a likely 6 (unless Ginn would have dropped it).
-- Rookie Deatrich Wise (2 tackles, 1 sack, 5 QB hits) was living in the backfield in this game. I think it was more the Saints blocking than Wise becoming a star, but Wise was good. Because he's a Patriot his value will probably shoot too high as an IDP sleeper this week.
-- I like/love Elandon Roberts (8 tackles, 1 PD) and he filled in nicely for Dont’a Hightower. Nice to have depth like the Patriots. Roberts will be an IDP 'playa' in the future.
-- The Patriots defense got whooped by the Chiefs Week 1 but as I noted after the re-watch – it wasn’t as bad as you thought. A few lightning strike moments and a lot of Patriots great coverage from their DBs. A let down by the LBs stopping the run. However, the Patriots plugged that up and made changes, as expected, for Week 2… and held a very good Saints offense in its home opener to 20 points. This was a blowout so fast, some of the points allowed were charitable.
The Patriots have a ton of defensive talent and depth…and shouldn’t be judged by Week 1 alone. If they are pretty good, then you'll love the schedule ahead…
Week 3: Deshaun Watson
Week 4: Cam
Week 5: Winston
Week 6: McCown
Four solid starts in-a-row.
Snap Counts of Interest...
65 (100%) = Cooks
65 = Hogan
32 = Dorsett
30 = J. Whote
30 = Gillislee
14 = D. Lewis
08 = Burkhead
36 = Elandon Roberts (55%)
35 = Ingram
17 = Kamara
16 = Peterson
76 = A.J. Klein
59 = Anzalone
28 = Deatrich Wise (43%)