Week 9 Recap:
Saints at 49ers
Written By: Adam Drewery
Saints: The Saints ran the ball quite a bit in this game, but a lot of that could be attributed to the 49ers terrible run defense. It also helped that the Saints offensive line played well as a unit in this game. Both Hightower and Ingram had lanes to run through, and Brees was given plenty of time to throw (which isn’t really that long for him). The Saints did lose Terron Armstead, who has been battling an injury all year, and they moved Andrus Peat out from guard to tackle. There really was not much of a noticeable difference, but the 49ers defense is pretty terrible.
New Orleans Saints offensive line ProFootballFocus player grades.
|Terron Armstead, LT||T15/73||82.0||85.3||66.0|
|Andrus Peat, LT/LG||38/81||74.5||79.8||71.1|
|Senio Kelemte, LG||52/81||69.8||61.4||75.0|
|Max Unger, C||11/33||82.5||87.2||70.5|
|Jahri Evans, RG||39/81||74.3||83.4||49.2|
|Zach Strief, RT||7/73||86.8||86.4||81.6|
Quarterback: Drew Brees has still got it. I alluded to it above, but Brees gets rid of the ball so quickly. It’s an impressive thing to watch. I don’t think anyone needs to be told that Drew Brees is a top tier quarterback in the NFL, nevermind fantasy. If you own him, you’re starting him. Yes. Even on the road.
Running Back: Ingram appeared to be on timeout the first two drives of the game. When he started getting mixed back into the offense, however, it quickly became clear that he was the superior talent. Both had lanes to run through, but on Ingram’s long touchdown run he showed that he possesses an extra gear that Hightower simply does not. That’s not to say that Hightower looked horrible on film. He looked like an above average back that has good power and vision.
Something that I think is worth emphasizing is that when both backs were being utilized, Ingram was the superior back. On the first two drives, Hightower got all of the work. He carried the ball 7 times for 27 yards and a really bizarre touchdown. He fell on the back of a defender, and then he slid over him and into the end zone. If you like narratives, you could possibly buy that this was punishment and/or motivation for Mark Ingram, and that it appears to have worked. I’m not sure what to expect moving forward, but in this game Ingram was the better player both on film and on the stat sheets. I really prefer Ingram to Hightower, but Hightower showed me enough on film to keep me interested. If the workload continues to be shared like this, I value Ingram as a high-end RB2 and Hightower as a low-end RB2/flex.
New Orleans Saints running back touch breakdown against San Francisco 49ers Week 9.
Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas had himself a game. The thing that impressed me the most with him was his concentration. In the first quarter at 8:44 he makes a twisting catch while turning up-field, and he did it without losing hardly any speed. His second touchdown catch is another great example of his concentration. He tips the ball to himself around the back of the defender. It was spectacular. He was definitely the best receiver for the Saints. Cooks and Snead both had a few flashes, but they did not quite jump off the film the way Michael Thomas did. Cooks actually had a long gain nullified by a pretty flagrant offensive pass interference.
I still value them all as WR2s, simply because they are a target for Drew Brees. There is also the possibility that they have a favorable match up and Thomas has a quiet game. If you look back over the last three weeks, Thomas is the clear leader in snaps played, receptions, and targets. If this continues, I think Thomas can creep into borderline WR1 territory. It will also force the value of Cooks and Snead to drop to WR3/flex territory.
New Orleans Saints receiver target distribution through past 3 games.
|Stat||Week 7 @ KC||Week 8 SEA||Week 9 @ 49ers||Total|
Tight End: Coby Fleener is has got a lot of physical talent, but he seems to have bad lapses in concentration that result in drops or running the wrong route. If you have him you hopefully can grab the likes of Fiedorowicz, Dwayne Allen/Jack Doyle, and Cameron Brate to start over him. Looking back over the past three games he’s caught 9/12 targets (75% catch rate), for 122 yards, and one fumble. If you want to start that then you’re more than welcome to. I’m personally looking elsewhere.
49ers: Overall, I was impressed with the 49ers offensive performance, given that the offensive line played so poorly and the skill players leave a lot to be desired. Kaepernick was pretty consistently under pressure throughout the game. This was against a pretty poor Saints defense, mind you. To be fair, they were able to generate decent push which allowed DuJuan Harris to showcase his speed and athleticism. Overall, a very average to below average performance.
San Francisco 49ers offensive line ProFootballFocus player grades.
|Joe Staley, LT||31/73||77.1||52.7||84.0|
|Zane Beadles, LG||66/81||51.0||47.6||49.1|
|Daniel Kilgore, C||20/33||78.6||75.7||70.6|
|Joshua Garnett, RG||63/81||55.4||40.5||77.6|
|Trenton Brown, RT||44/73||58.4||76.3||42.7|
Quarterback: Do you remember when Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl a few years ago? I sure do. He was exciting to watch then; we were witnessing the ushering in of a new era of football. Fast forward to 2016 and you’ll see that actually never came to fruition. There were a few flashes of 2012 Kaepernick. In particular, when the line failed to block a defender and he wound up scrambling for chunks at a time. On a couple of occasions, he would extend the play long enough to find an open receiver, and then actually throw them a catchable ball.
For the most part, however, he still threw rockets with wild inaccuracy. His pick was the result of him staring at his receiver. Saints linebacker Craig Robertson sat in a zone and read Kaep’s eyes, and he jumped the play for an easy interception. Kapernick locked onto one of his first two reads it seemed nearly every play, and if the Saints were a better defense this could have been a much worse passing game for him. I’m not sure that I would want to play Kaep outside of 2 QB leagues, but his ability to run the ball makes him an intriguing QB flyer. However, his next two games are at Arizona and home against New England.
Running Back: Carlos Hyde appears to be set to reassume lead back duties for the 49ers, possibly as early as this week, but should he miss time I believe Harris would assume the bulk of the workload. Partially because Mike Davis did nothing of note against the Saints, but primarily because he is one hell of an athlete. He only stands at 5’8” and weighs 206 lbs, so I’m not sure I like his prospects as a long term feature back. What he lacks in physical stature, he makes up for with good speed, quickness, vision, and surprising power for his size. Take a look at his touchdown catch and run to get an idea of how fast he is.
He’s bounced around the league since 2011 (Jacksonville, Green Bay, and now San Francisco), and that is a little bit worrisome. It certainly takes a bit of luster out of hoping he could be a potential breakout dynasty star. However, he played well enough in this game that I think there’s a good chance he maintains some kind of role in this offense. If you’re looking for a high-risk, high-reward player and you’re desperate I think Harris could be a potential option for you. Especially in a PPR league. However, unless Hyde dos not play it is unlikely that Harris gets sufficient volume to be an every week starter.
Wide Receiver: It’s hard to evaluate how good a wide receiver is when their quarterback is not able to get them the ball consistently. I didn’t see Torrey Smith or Jeremy Kerley do much to really help Kaepernick out, so I guess that was a mutual relationship. Quinton Patton, however, had a pretty good day against the Saints. A lot of his work came in crunch time during the fourth quarter. He was the only receiver to whom Kaepernick could consistently throw catchable passes. Patton does not have game breaking speed or acceleration, but he seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He has solid hands. Mostly he’s an average to above average wide receiver.
I am curious to see if Patton’s targets and snaps remain the highest amongst the 49ers receivers. Since Kaepernick took over, Torrey Smith and Jeremy Kerley are seeing fewer and fewer targets than Patton. Considering that Smith and Kerley have a long history of being disappointing, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Chip Kelly was working Patton more into the fold more to see what he can do. If I have to play a 49ers WR I would roll with Quinton Patton, but he’s a WR3 until he can consistently put together better games. I really have a hard time imaging a scenario in which I would use Smith or Kerley.
San Francisco 49ers receiver target distribution through the last 3 weeks.
|Stat||Week 6 @ BUF||Week 7 TB||Week 9 NO||Total|
Tight End: Vance McDonald turned a short 5-yard in route into a 65-yard touchdown, but don’t get too excited here. There was some miscommunication in the Saints line backing corps that allowed McDonald to have a wide open catch. Harris put up a nice block down field to spring him for the touchdown run. If Garrett Celek were to go down I would be more interested in McDonald, but he has not shown enough consistency to make me really excited about using him as a legitimate fantasy option. Given the state of the tight-end position I wouldn’t mind it, but I would, again, prefer the likes of Fiedorowicz, Dwayne Allen/Jack Doyle, or Cameron Brate.
Written By: Adam Drewery – Follow Adam on the Fantasy Life App @ad87 or on Twitter @adrewery87