Wednesday - Jun 19, 2019

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Under the Microscope – New Orleans Saints

Overview
After a 1-4 start, the Saints were starting to get on a roll, and as recently as last week looked like they could steal a wild card spot in the NFC.  But thanks to a 14-7 loss at home to Tampa Bay, their playoff hopes are sinking fast.  This team has shown signs of life at different times this season, but a quick look at their schedule shows loss after loss to playoff-bound teams.  While it may not be the Saints’ year (fans in the Big Easy can always root for LSU) there is some fantasy value to be had here, and we’ll look at which players can help you in your fantasy playoffs as we gaze into the microscope.

Team Stats (numbers in parentheses are NFL Ranking)
Category Yards/Game TD’s
Rushing Offense 134.5  (7) 11  (t14)
Passing Offense 200.6  (15) 17  (t14)
Rushing Defense 138.6  (26) 11  (t20)
Passing Defense 189.6  (11) 17  (t15)

Turnover Stats Upcoming Schedule
20 takeaways  (t19)
26 giveaways  (t23)
-6 overall  (t23)
15: NY Giants
16: @Jacksonville
17: Dallas

Schedule Analysis
This week’s home game against the Giants looks promising, but look out in week 16 and 17.  The Jaguars and Cowboys both rank in the top 6 in the league against the run.  As we’ll see further down, that is really the strength of this Saints team and they need a running game to be successful.

Player Analysis

Aaron Brooks, QB – Now in his fourth season, Brooks has been a mild fantasy disappointment this year.  It’s a bit hard to figure out, since his supporting cast is arguably the best he has worked with so far.  Still, with 16 TD’s and only 8 INT’s, Brooks is a decent start most weeks, and he will throw in a few rushing yards just to make things interesting.

Deuce McAllister, RB – McAllister’s incredible string of 9 straight 100-yard games was broken last week by the Tampa defense, but he has still been one of the top five fantasy backs this year.  In the various leagues I participate in and watch, he appears on a good number of playoff teams.  Playing him every week is a no-brainer, so enjoy the scores.  Hopefully they will mean a championship for a few lucky readers out there.

Ki-Jana Carter, RB – This one-time first round pick of the Bengals has bounced around the league for a few years, and now fills the backup role for McAllister.  He is rarely used, so his only value is as McAllister’s backup.

Joe Horn, WR – Normally one of the game’s more reliable receivers, this has been a very up-and-down year for Joe Horn.  You can’t very well bench him because of his potential for breaking out with a big score.  Still, it can be frustrating to watch him put up some occasionally weak numbers.

Jerome Pathon, WR – Pathon will have the occasional long scoring play, but most weeks he isn’t worth having in your lineup.  He hasn’t caught more than five passes in a game this year, and one or two receptions is a common occurrence.

Donte Stallworth, WR – After an opening-day explosion against Seattle, Stallworth looked poised to have his big breakout receiving season.  Since that game, however, he hasn’t caught more than two passes and lingering injuries have kept him off the field for much of the second half of the season.  It looks as though he may be out again this week, so stay away.  There are less risky starts for your playoff lineup.

Boo Williams/Ernie Conwell, TE – Early in the year, Conwell was the go-to guy in the passing game, but over the last three or four games, Boo Williams has started to put up the better fantasy numbers.  Williams will make a good start for your playoff squad, while Conwell is only good for the bench or the wire.

Defense/Special Teams – What was once a great strength and a calling card for Jim Haslett’s team has become more of a liability.  This is a unit that’s not especially good at stopping the run or the pass, and generates few turnovers.  With no threat to speak of in the return game, there’s not much to like here from a fantasy perspective.  There’s really no reason to be carrying this defense on your team.

The Bottom Line
Although their stars continue to be good fantasy plays, the Saints haven’t put the full package together yet.  With competition heating up for Playoff spots in the NFC, and resurgent Dallas coming to town in week 17, it doesn’t look promising for the Saints to make the playoffs.  McAllister and Horn could help you win your playoffs, however, so put them in and hope for the best.

Next Week … We return to our regular schedule and review the Kansas City Chiefs, who lead the AFC West but no longer have the inside track to home field advantage in the playoffs.  Are their recent losses just bumps in the road that every good team faces, or are the Chiefs starting to come apart at the seams?  Find out next week…

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