Ross Jacobs has been an FFM correspondent on NFL games and NFL Draft matters for the past few years. He is going to be writing up some of his notes on various games he’s watching/studying this year. Typically, he will have written/submitted his work before mine, so this is a look at the same game with different eyes...and you can compare and contrast or find some new takeaways.
2020 Week 2 Analysis: Saints @ Raiders (By Ross Jacobs)
-I didn't expect to be impressed with the Raiders, but they actually played a pretty good game. The Saints came out strong and looked like they might blow out Vegas, but the Raiders kept fighting and played their way to a win. New Orleans still had a few injuries that I think played a large part in keeping the Raiders in the game, but regardless the Raiders played a good game and should be respected.
-Obviously the Saints were missing their best offensive player in Michael Thomas, and his absence definitely hurt the New Orleans offense. They started well, but midway through the game it was obvious the Saints couldn't manage any plays down the field, and the Raiders began to force everything short. The Saints offense turned into a series of dump passes to Alvin Kamara, and they simply couldn't manage but one more score. This probably won't be a consistent issue once Thomas returns.
-The Raiders scored 34 points on a good Saints defense, but almost all of the damage was done by Darren Waller. Waller destroyed coverage all day and simply couldn't be stopped no matter what he was doing. You'd think the Raiders would learn from this, but I'm sure they'll go back to only targeting him 7 or 8 times in future games. And for anyone that is a new FFM subscriber, RC scouted Waller out of college years ago and talked about how he would make a spectacular WR to TE transition. It took a few years and a couple of new teams, but Waller finally found a home and the respect he deserves as a player. Not all of RC's predictions about players come true, but he's rarely wrong about a given player's talent level. Always keep an eye on guys he thinks are talented and be prepared to act quickly to acquire them if the circumstances turn in their favor.
-The Raiders technically held the Saints to 24 points, but it would have been worse if Thomas had played. They didn't get much pressure on Brees. Most teams don't, but I didn't see anything that suggested they would against lesser teams either. It's an average group to my eyes. They won't lose games for the Raiders, but they won't help win many either.
-Overall I'd say the Raiders are a pretty solid group. The offense looks to be a little above average, a borderline top 10 unit, and the defense is completely average. This should add up to around 9 or 10 wins and a possible playoff berth. They will be a tough out for some of the better AFC teams, but I doubt they are a legitimate Superbowl threat just yet.
-The Saints are still the better team of these two in my eyes. Assuming Mike Thomas comes back quickly I think the Saints should finish somewhere around 11 or 12 wins and compete for the NFC South title with the Buccaneers.
-The days of Drew Brees as a fantasy superstar are over. He hasn't been quite the same the past few years, and I think Sean Payton knows it. At this point he's just a very sharp game manager that rarely makes mistakes although he did make an uncharacteristically bad interception here.
-Kamara was the beneficiary of Thomas's absence. Without Brees's usual outlet he opted to go to the RB on checkdown passes. The Saints may have to keep up the volume to Kamara even if Thomas returns because the rest of the group just isn't making much happen. Emmanuel Sanders and Tre'Quan Smith aren't very threatening with better coverage on them.
-Waller finally got his TD. Let's hope this becomes more of a thing, although if he could get this kind of targeting every game it wouldn't matter. He was unstoppable here, and I think there's a good chance he finishes as the overall TE1 this year so long as he gets a few more touchdowns. He's going to be hard to acquire right now after that performance, but if you can wait for a quieter week to grab him cheaper I'd do so.
-Bryan Edwards is playing heavy snaps, but still isn't getting targeted. Not sure what the issue is, but you saw some flashes of his ability here. He will matter eventually, and that moment is going to happen fast. He'll explode for 8 catches, over 100 yards, and a couple scores some week, and it's game on after that.