Believe it or not, we’re less than a month away from the first NFL preseason game – the HOF game (DEN v. ATL). Weeks away from real training camp. Leading up to that time, I wanted to go back through Week 1 of 2018…just for fun and any learning/takeaways that could be had…and something to get the juices flowing to get ready for the 2019 football season.
I’m going to republish a Week 1 game every day the next 2+ weeks, publishing them as-is in the order I did them – starting with the TNF kickoff of Bears v. Packers. No extra/new commentary. Just the content/recap of things that were accessible only for In-Season subscribers Week 1 (and every week) last season.
Access to all our game recaps (and everything else we do) in-season are available via our In-Season subscription. You can sign up for that now and be ready for September 2019 new material and have access to all the private content from 2018 – BUT also note there are Combo packages/deals to get your Draft Guide and In-Season (and Dynasty Stash) all in one checkout right now as well.
Otherwise, let’s walk down memory lane to see what was important or telling or an entertaining reminder in Week 1 of 2018…
2018 Week 1 Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: Bucs v. Saints
*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
Tampa Bay at New Orleans…the sure-thing win.
I said that if the Saints lose to the Buccaneers that I would quit football analysis. I’m a man of my word. This is it. I’m turning in my resignation.
You work so hard at something. You watch all the stupid preseason games. You look at the matchups. You look at the analytics. You pick them in your survivor pool. It’s a sure thing. And then you lose in grand, embarrassing fashion.
I don’t have to be told twice. I realize I’m not very good at this. Effective 1/1/2039 – I am done. Hey, I’m a man of my word and honor. I will work out my notice…I’m not just going to leave the company high and dry. No. I will work out my full notice. No-no…don’t try to talk me out of it. Call me ‘Mr. Short-timer’ if you will but I’m done after 2038 season and nothing you say can stop me.
As far as this game goes…I can’t even…
I don’t know how to describe it.
The Saints literally could not stop the Bucs. I don’t know that Tampa played all that well. It’s just that the Saints couldn’t cover anyone. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throws on bombs were all on the money. The Saints applied zero pressure as a defensive front, which was telling – either the Saints have a massive D-Line issue, or the Bucs are going to have an 8-8 year led by a really tight O-Line. The Saints were a mess in about every area of the field.
Now, the Bucs couldn’t stop the Saints either…it’s just that when the Saints got rolling on a few drives, they fumbled it away – once for a scoop and score, once to kill a late drive that might have put the Saints back as winners. That’s the thing about this game – the Bucs played perfectly, the Saints had two key fumbles and so many stupid, costly penalties…and with all that – the Saints still almost won. The Bucs are ‘that bad’ -- they barely won their perfect game. The Saints are just…I don’t know what the Saints are, but this was shocking.
Philly and ‘terrible’ Foles (-3.0) at Tampa Bay Week 2…The Computer has the early line as -13.7 Philly. This line will be down because everyone hates Foles. I suspect the Vegas line will go to 3.5-4.0 during the week with an FFM bump and then drop back to 3.0 range, maybe even under 3.0.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s start with the worst call in the history of fantasy football – the Saints as the top DST for Week 1 of 2018.
So many FFM’ers won by so much Sunday, the huge negative from the Saints-DST didn’t sting as much. However, where there were FFM losses (believe it or not some people don’t have Tyreek), there was the Saints-DST egg leading the way.
I’m pretty savvy with fantasy DSTs. Those that have been with me for a while know, I always bring the goods on DST all season. My biggest DST problem, when I have them, is Week 1. The more time I get to see tape and numbers, the better I get. Last year, we had Jacksonville or Pittsburgh from the jump in many cases…and we were gold. Some had the Pats and that was a disaster Week 1 of 2017. If you went Cincy or Pittsburgh this year…you did OK Sunday. Saints…well, we all got burned.
Last year, when I studied KC v. NE Week 1, and the Pats gave up 40+…I was still with/supporting the Patriots defense (but stopped using them soon after) as ‘OK’. It took about 3-4 weeks, and then the Pats became one of the 3-4 best DSTs of the rest of the season. I’m not getting that feeling here with the Saints. All big plays allowed…the lack of D-Line pressure…playing Ryan Fitzpatrick at home…Marshon Lattimore getting scorched. No patience from me…I’m out. I bet the Saints do well Week 2 vs. CLE, but I’ll be watching it from afar.
My bad on this DST call. Real bad.
-- Alvin Kamara (8-29-2, 9-112-1/12) is now locked in as a superstar. Matthew Berry said it today (I saw a headline), so now everything is complete.
I guess I’ll remain a holdout on joining your Kamara worshiping party.
Please note…I realize Alvin Kamara is a fantasy superstar. I just don’t think Kamara is the NFL entity everyone thinks. I also believe this is a story of ‘touches’ as much as anything else. Kamara is great in his role…my debate is – (a) if he were on the Buffalo Bills, he’d be on redraft free agency right now. No one would care. If David Johnson were on the Bills, he’d still be a threat to lead the league in rushing and TDs just the same – that’s the difference. (b) I could name 5-10-15 other RB talents who if Sean Payton fell in love with them and used them in the brilliant role that he has created for Kamara (and Sproles in prior years)…I could get the same FF results, maybe better with some other guys.
It doesn’t matter because Kamara is in New Orleans and the rest of the league is too dumb to copy, effectively, what Payton is doing with Kamara…just like they could never figure out replicating ‘Sproles’ when that was a very unique thing years ago. Pierre Thomas was doing these types of things on and off, remember him?
Kamara ran for 3.6 yards per carry in this game…another under 4.0 ypc performance, which is happening a bunch lately (later games last year). Payton cannot use him as a workhorse – and he’s been the smartest guy in the world realizing that. Kamara was basically a 3rd-4th-5th WR in a shootout game who got 12 targets in the game. Guess what would happen if Tarik Cohen got 12 targets in a 48-40 shootout where his team was down 2-3 scores much of the 2nd half?
Fantasy star? Yes, Kamara is.
NFL difference maker…mmmm…he’s in a very good spot for him.
-- It’s like…I get Michael Thomas (16-180-1/17) is good, but if you get 17 targets against, arguably, the worst pass defense in the NFL (missing two key DBs)…in a game you’re down and trying to non-stop throw to comeback furiously – you’re going to have 180 yards and a lot of catches against practice squad CBs playing a lot of prevent defense.
Thomas is a fantasy star, yes. NFL-wise…hmmmm…he’s good. Solid player.
-- All the attention Kamara and Thomas draws gives Ted Ginn (5-68-1/6) a lot of blank checks to maneuver how he wants to…in a high-flying offense and also with, what looks like, a crappy defense that will lead to a ton of shootouts.
If this is how it’s going to be with the Saints defense – Drew Brees top 3-5 fantasy QB for sure, Kamara-Thomas top 3-5 at their position, Ginn a WR2 until Cameron Meredith emerges…and then who knows?
-- Austin Carr (2-20-0/2) is playing the slot role for the Saints right now…and he might have some WR3 moments, but when Meredith is fully ready it likely means Carr is back of the line.
-- All this offensive explosion and O.J. Howard (2-54-0/2) has two targets? Check, please. Not a top 3-5 at his position for fantasy. However, tight end is so depleted and, in such turmoil, right now…he’s a legit TE2 hold hoping he has TE1 moments. He looks SOOO good when they get him the ball.
Dirk Koetter is too smart to get OJH involved heavy. I can’t say much…he just dropped 48 pts in a win, so what do I know? See me in 10+ weeks on Koetter…
Cam Brate…0 catches on 2 targets – only matters when Winston returns. If Winston returns.
-- One quick thing on Ryan Fitzpatrick (21-28 for 417 yards, 4 TDs/0 INT)… If he wins one of the next two games, let’s say loses to Philly then beats the Steelers, meaning he just would have won to go to 2-1 as Jameis Winston is eligible to comeback. Does Dirk Koetter make the QB switch in Week 4? I say not. Not even if they beat Philly and then lose to Pitt. No way Winston can come in after a 2-1 start via Fitz…and then if JW were to lose Week 4, the fan base would lose their minds.
As a 2018 Bears fan, I need Winston back Week 4 at Chicago. PLEASE Dirk, do me a favor!!!
Mike Evans (7-147-1/7) + Ryan Fitzpatrick = wow. Amazing what could happen with Evans with a real QB.
Snap Counts of Note:
52 = Kamara
07 = Gillislee
03 = Jon. Williams
50 = Ginn
43 = Carr
12 = Tre’Quan Smith
43 = OJ Howard
24 = Brate
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