FantasyHolics Week 9 Sunday Night Preview
Sunday Night Preview:
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vegas Odds: TB -4.5, O/U 50.5
The Battle of the Goats Part II should be quite the entertaining duel. Every week Brady and Brees take turns overtaking each other’s all time TD passing record and climbing up the divisional rankings. For fantasy purposes Brady has been better (similar yards per game but Brady has 20 TDs/4 INTs to Brees’ 13/3) while both have played with backup weapons around them because of injuries. Tonight all critical offensive players seem to be back in the lineup, leading to what we hope is big fantasy numbers despite two solid defenses on the field. For this week our FantasyHolic’s expert rankings have Brees at QB #11 and Brady as QB #12, but expect them to both be top 10 options the rest of the year while they play softer defenses in the future.
Alvin Kamara is on pace to smash receiving records this year and is a under appreciated candidate for NFL MVP at this point of the season. At the very least he should run away with fantasy MVP for the first half of the season. He is second in the league with 55 catches and tied for third with 7 touchdowns despite having his bye week while many others have played an extra game. The return of multiple Saints WRs will lower his overall targets some but also open up better running lanes and coverage underneath. He is our RB #3 overall despite the difficult matchup. His backup Latavius Murray is outside of our top 40 backs but remains the league’s best positioned handcuffs and an occasional matchup based flex play down the road. For Tampa the committee of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones is starting to clear up as of last week. Jones’ fumbling issues came back to life and seems to of ruined his value for now. Fournette out carried him 15-7 last week and was already the preferred pass catcher of the two. While neither back has looked dominant behind this inconsistent OLine the man in the best position looks to be Fournette, leading to his ranking at RB #15 with RoJo at #28. They can both move up the rankings whenever they are facing weaker front 7s than the Saints. NO has been much tougher against the run than the pass this year and for most of the past decade as well.
Let the fun begin! Consensus first round pick Michael Thomas has driven fantasy managers nuts this year, myself included. He finally will be making his long awaited healthy debut after rolling his ankle in week 1 versus this same team. He had a horrible stat line (3 catches for 17 yards) that he will 100% surpass and use as motivation. Expect Brees to target him early and often. We have him ranked as WR #10 and will be moving up as soon as he gets his mojo back. His sidekick Emmanuel Sanders also returns from illness this week. He and teammate Tre’Quan Smith have both had some quality games with MT out but remain outside our top 40 against this stout secondary. Sanders is more of a WR4 with Smith a WR5. The Bucs look like they now have the best WR room in the world with enigmatic future Hall of Famer Antonio Brown joining Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. For the week we have Godwin as WR #14, Evans as WR #19 and Brown WR #40. They all posses elite upside every week yet there is only one football to go around. In this matchup Godwin will likely continue to operate in the slot, which is the most attackable section of the Saints secondary. Evans leads the team in all receiving categories (tied with Kamara for 3rd most TDs in the league with 7) but will likely face the most coverage from CB Marshon Lattimore. The last two games when Lattimore guarded him he’s had 4 targets and zero catches. His TD potential is always there (1 catch for a 2 yard score against them in week 1) but this could be a rough week. And AB is the wild card. He will start in this WR3/4 range and then if or more appropriately when he and Brady start clicking look out. Although a bit messy these 3 Pro Bowlers will be a headache for defensive coordinators much more so than fantasy players. It’s hard to bench pure talent.
Rob Gronkowski and Jared Cook have both been on a tear the past few weeks, taking advantage of their respective team’s WR injuries to operate as go to targets. Amazingly both have gotten in the end zone each of their last 3 games. Targets will be harder to come by as their surrounding cast returns tonight yet they both are too hot to bench at the moment. For now we have Gronk at TE #5 and Cook at #8, but don’t be shocked if they start to slide as the season progresses. The Saints D gives up the 3rd most fantasy points to TEs while the Bucs the 18th most, which was baked into our ranks.