After the turkey dinner, the pumpkin pie, and endless days of leftovers; another week of football is here. For us Patriot fans we have to wait yet another day for the big Monday Night Match-up against The Saints. However while we were stuffing our faces and sleeping it off you may have noticed there were a few football games going on, so I thought before we get fully wrapped into today’s slate of games we recap the football action so far and take a minute to preview tomorrow’s Patriots game from a fantasy point of view.
If you thought the Patriots/Colts game was highly anticipated, there hasn’t been any less buzz about this upcoming match-up with The Saints. Once again The Patriots are challengers to an undefeated opponent and based on the tough play from the Colts game, The Patriots come in with great respect. Predictions are all over the place and ESPN’s Madden Simulation predicts a close game with the Saints walking away with the win. Of course this past Friday the 4 Sport Boston crew played out their own Madden Simulation with somewhat different stats. However I don’t think 8 TD passes from Tom Brady will happen like it did this past weekend, so let’s take a closer look at the match-up.
When it comes to total offense The Saints are ranked #1. Of course The Patriots are ranked #2. What I found surprising is that even though The Saints are led by a quarterback like Drew Brees and a talented Wide Receiver group, they are actually a better ranked rushing team (5th in NFL) than pass (6th in NFL.) The Patriots are ranked #2 when it comes to the pass, and #16 when it comes to the run. The Saints have a more balanced offense and that has affected Drew Brees’ numbers as a fantasy QB.
Brees looked unstoppable when he put up 9 TDs in his first 2 games, but since then he’s look a bit more human, but is still an elite player. The Patriots are ranked 6th against the pass but hasn’t had to cover as many weapons on one team til the Saints came marching in. Because of the all the passing weapons Brees has I expect him to earn his keep this week.
But how about his passing targets? The problem with the New Orleans passing game is that it’s so hard to predict. Even though Marques Colston is the clear leader with 44 receptions for 687 yards and 6 TDs, Robert Meachem has about half the receptions and yards yet has just as many TDs. Colston is the only guy I would trust to start, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other targets like Meachem or Jeremy Shockey end up with the TDs. It’s so hard to predict TDs in fantasy football so I put my hat on the guy who will catch the most receptions.
Just as unpredictable is The Saints running game. Just when I started getting comfortable with Pierre Thomas as the guy you want, you see Mike Bell rear his ugly head, vulturing 2 touchdowns in his last game against Tampa Bay. The Pats are only 14th against the run but have only allowed 3 rushing TDs all season. Like I said before, you can’t really predict touchdowns so if I had to play Thomas I think he could still rack up yards against a Pats D that bends but doesn’t break. Bell could get a goal line TD or may not- he’s a gamble flex play at best. What about Reggie Bush? While he does have 5 total TDs in the past 5 weeks, except for last week he hasn’t been racking up enough yards to make him a serious fantasy option.
On the Pats side of the ball you have to love Brady, Moss, and Welker against a Saints secondary that’s injured. Even though the Saints are 6th ranked in pass defense, they have allowed an NFL high 22 passing touchdowns. A potential weakness for The Saints happens to be a strength for the Pats.
So what do you do about Maroney? Well, first we need to see if Sammy Morris will be able to play this week or not. If Maroney remains the feature back without Morris to steal time it should be a good thing. However The Saints are 5th against the run and have only allowed an average 154 rushing yards per game. Combined with a potential time share if Morris returns, it all tells me that I would stay away from any Patriots running back if I can.
Reading The Box Scores & Watching The Highlights
The heroics of last week are over for Matt Stafford. He clearly looked injured as backup Daunte Culpepper was scratched as starter for Stafford. He threw 4 picks in what looked like a Packers highlight reel. Stafford’s ineffectiveness hurt Calvin Johnson. Even though he caught a touchdown early in the game he ended the day with only 2 catches for 10 yards.
Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver had big games against the pushover defense known as The Lions. Nothing much to analyze here- you play Detroit you are going to have a great fantasy day. What impressed me watching the game was how Rogers managed not to get sacked despite his a porous Packers O-Line. If Rogers can keep it up, I predict fantastic things for Rodgers and Driver the rest of the way.
I benched Tony Romo for Matt Hasselbeck, I figured Oakland’s tough pass defense which included Nnamdi Asomugha expected to cover Miles Austin would equal a bad day for both Romo and Austin. I was wrong as Austin blew by for 145 yards and a TD. Romo ended the game with 309 yards and 2 TDs. I may have to say Austin is a must start the rest of the way. Roy Williams caught a TD but we can continue to ignore his whining.
The Dallas running game all did very well, with Jones, Choice, and Barber racking up around 60 yards. However Felix Jones got the TD but Barber got the most touches. All three of them managed to break out a long run against Oakland. I would focus more on Barber and Jones, since Choice’s yards came from his one 66 yard run.
The bright spot for Oakland? I think that Bruce Gradkowski’s play at QB is adequate enough for Zach Miller to perform again.
The Broncos broke their losing streak at the expense of the New York Giants, what I saw in the game is that if you owned Matt Prater, you have a great start to week 12. Besides his 4 field goals there was only a rushing TD from Knowshon Moreno and a TD reception from Brandon Stokley. I wouldn’t worry about Brandon Marshall now that Kyle Orton looked somewhat ok with his ankle injury.