Game Reviews: Vikings at Saints, Texans at Giants. Their Outlook for Week 4 Matchups
Minnesota Vikings 9, New Orleans Saints 20
This game was … quietly entertaining. Both teams had terrible field position all day, especially the Saints since they never started at a better spot than their own 20. New Orleans came out on fire in the first two drives for TDs and just dominated the line of scrimmage. Then bad mistakes kicked in from a variety of people that resulted in four-consecutive punts. Finally they put together another TD and held the ball for the last 6:58 to ice the game. The Vikings were outmatched to a certain extent, but despite the injuries to Matt Cassel and Kyle Rudolph, their opening drive was their only three-and-out. They constructed three double-digit play drive, They did result in field goals though. New Orleans is clearly the better team, but the Vikings have good reason to be optimistic moving forward.
Matt Cassel – Cassel started the game, but he left after breaking his ankle after getting tackled on attempting to make a first down in the red zone. This happened early in the second quarter. In a combination of Cassel being inaccurate and the OL doing a poor job in pass protection, Cassell’s only success were simple three-step drops and hitting shorter routes. He distributed the ball fairly well, but most were to Asiata and Rudolph. Cassel is now on the IR and may not get the starting job back with Teddy Bridgewater now under center.
Teddy Bridgewater – Great pocket presence. Knew when to scramble and very good at making defenders miss. Had to early sometimes since the Vikings OL couldn’t handle the Saints pass rush well. Bridgewater was accurate on throws downfield and on the run. He primarily struggled with throws to the running backs, but that was mostly due to early pressure by the Saints. Definitely consider him in GPPs with his $5,900 price on FanDuel at home against the Falcons.
Matt Asiata – Got a vast majority of the carries. McKinnon’s two carries went for negative yardage (also had a couple drops), and Asiata is much more of a North-and-South runner. Asiata was again involved in both the running and passing game. He caught three balls for 36 yards, but he was targeted six times, and those three misses were all on inaccurate throws by Cassel and Bridgewater just trying to get rid of the ball before a sack occurred. Asiata got 12 carries, but most of those came early when it was a one-score game. McKinnon also had a couple drops. Asiata has a much better matchup at home against the Falcons in Week 4 and should be used at $6,300.
Cordarrelle Patterson – Another somewhat bust game for Patterson. He finished with four catches for 61 yards. He got his 28-yard reception on a WR screen when the Saints defense was confused while substituting and didn’t get lined up properly. Patterson’s one reverse run went for minus-seven yards. Patterson continues to get no looks in the red zone and is very reliant on a big play to meet his salary. Until he’s $5,500 or cheaper, I wouldn’t play him. Greg Jennings is more the play with Kyle Rudolph now out. Bridgewater went to him quite frequently as he finished with eight targets.
Kyle Rudolph (MarQueis Gray?) – Rudolph caught three balls early for 27 yards. Although he left early with a groin injury, one that will require surgery and be out approximately six weeks. The Vikings did not target any other TEs the rest of the game. Rudolph was a nice security blanket, but now the Vikings passing game must look elsewhere. MarQueis Gray, who was actually the starting QB (and played some WR) for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, is next in line at TE. Gray has bulked up to 242 pounds, but he is the type of guy who will be used in the passing game. I don’t think there’s anyway I can recommend Gray. However, if you’re looking for a minimum-salary TE who will very likely be less than 1% used and have a legitimate game, he’s your man. Plus, not that this should be factored in but just more of an interesting note, since the Vikings are playing at TCF Bank Stadium this season, Gray will be playing in his college venue once again.
Blair Walsh – Made all three FGs. All were from 40 yards or less. Walsh has one of the strongest legs in the league.
Vikings DST – All things considered, the Vikings DST didn’t do a bad job. Holding the Saints offense in New Orleans to 20 points is a solid job, especially when your offense only scores nine points and all the offensive injuries/suspensions they’ve encountered. I wouldn’t use them against the Falcons, but this is a unit worth considering later on. Don’t forget what they did Week 1 against the Rams.
Drew Brees – Brees played a solid game for the most part, who was 27-of-35 for 293 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs. Although Brees was nearly and should have been picked off twice. Brees has only 5 TDs through two games. This is for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that the Saints OL has been very impressive in the running game, and they are utilizing their depth in the backfield, despite the injury to Mark Ingram. Brees is probably overvalued some after watching this offense for three weeks, but given that his price has dropped slightly and he’s against the Cowboys this week, he’s one of the best plays at QB in Week 4.
Khiry Robinson – Robinson isn’t used in the passing game, but he’s by far a better runner than Pierre Thomas. He got 18 touches compared to Thomas’ 8, and Robinson also got more carries than Thomas in the first two weeks of the season. It’s clear that Robinson is the primary back with Ingram out. It also helps that the Saints OL is dominating in the trenches. Robinson is only $4,900 compared to Thomas’ $6,400. Even though there’s no PPR value, Robinson is the better play and a fantastic one in Week 4. Just make sure you don’t put him in the same lineup as Brees, especially in GPPs.
Pierre Thomas – As I said last week, Thomas is essentially replacing Darren Sproles, despite having some different assets. Thomas caught his three targets for 21 yards and added eight carries for 30 yards with a TD. Thomas is a better play on DraftKings since he’s cheaper and there’s full PPR.
Brandon Cooks – As far as WRs go, Cooks is by far the best WR. He’s used on WR screens, short crossing routes, verticals, post routes, etc. Cooks has caught 18 of his 24 targets for 168 yards and a TD. Cooks also is used on jet sweeps and has three rushes for 49 yards. He also returns punts. He essentially has all the upside of Patterson, and he’s a much better WR in an offense that is much better at passing. Yet, Cooks is cheaper than him at $6,200. The only downside is that Brees does spread the wealth, but he will always get his looks and will have a monstrous game at any point. He’s definitely a fantastic play against the Cowboys.
Marques Colston – Everyone is just waiting for Colston to have a great game. But unless it’s a two TD game or someone significant gets hurt, I don’t see it happening. He had a terrible drop in the second quarter that would have been about a 20-yard gain. He’s rarely been targeted on first or second down all season. Anytime it seems the Saints call a pass on first or second down, it’s a designed play to go to someone specifically without any progression. This usually involves a screen to Thomas, Cooks or getting a mismatch with Jimmy Graham. Colston is honestly no different than Kenny Stills, Josh Hill or Robert Meachem at this point.
Jimmy Graham – He caught six of his eight targets for 54 yards. Graham was never given any big-play opportunities. The Saints punched in their one TD with Thomas on the goal line and their other two TDs came on 18 and 34-yard passes. Brees attacked Joe Haden in Week 2 with the size advantage, which is why he had a big game. Against the Vikings, Brees went back to spreading the wealth since Minnesota’s secondary isn’t as strong as Cleveland’s. Graham should continue to produce solid performances, but with all the weapons Brees has now, especially with Cooks, I don’t think we’ll be seeing another 1,215-yard season and his $8,200 salary is probably a bit too much. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are by far the worst in the NFL at defending TEs so far. Therefore, for this week, Graham is an outstanding play. After he goes off, abandon ship on the likely increased salary.
Shayne Graham – No FG attempts. However, he was 2-of-3 on PATs. The first kick was fine, the second was tipped from a low kick (no good) and the third was also a fairly low kick that made it through. Graham also missed a PAT from 33 yards in preseason when the NFL was experimenting with the new rule (this one was pull-hooked just wide left). Graham couldn’t keep his job in Houston after the 2012 season (went 31-of-38) and only kicked for New Orleans in the last two games of the season in 2013. Having said that, Graham is the only kicker on the roster, and he’s 3-of-3 so far on the year, including one from over 50 yards. He’s certainly a great play against Dallas and New Orleans won’t hesitate to use him in obvious FG situations (plus he has the leg strength), but his inconsistencies are concerning.
Saints DST – The pass rush was fantastic. The front-seven in stopping the run was inconsistent, but it really picked up in the second half. The pass coverage was iffy. Dallas on the road is a bad matchup no matter what though.
Houston Texans 17 at New York Giants 30
Despite similar total yardage, the Giants had control for most of this game. Houston’s three turnovers combined with bad field position constantly hurt their chances at a comeback. The Giants, obviously so with a lead, focused more on the running game, but the passing game was much more fluid and the new offense appears to be making improvements.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – I thought he was as shaky of a starting QB there was in preseason, and this game was no exception. Fitzpatrick was 20-of-34, but many of his completions were shorter routes and easy completions. He struggles throwing it down field, and the timing he has with WRs just isn’t sharp. The Texans have ran it 57.38% of the time through three games, and this is one of the reasons why. Even though Fitzpatrick did scramble seven times for 34 yards and a TD, there is no point in playing him.
Alfred Blue – No Arian Foster, so Blue got the start. Texans OL is very good in the running game. Bill O’Brien specialized in this when he was at Penn State, and he’s doing the same here. Plus, it’s the strength of his team. Blue was no Arian Foster, but he is a solid North-and-South runner who picked up 78 yards on 13 carries (6.0 YPC). Should Foster sit out and Blue gives it a go, he certainly should be considered for Sunday lineups at $5,500. The Bills are a great run defense though, so don’t expect a monstrous game.
Andre Johnson – Johnson still has great skill and can play at a high level, but his opportunities have been fairly limited due to poor QB play. He caught four of his 11 targets, and the misses were almost all on Fitzpatrick. Until his price drops under $6,000, it’s tough to use him.
DeAndre Hopkins – Johnson is still a better overall receiver, but Hopkins has certainly closed the gap. Hopkins runs a lot more deep routes and may have as good of upside as Johnson. Still, he’s too expensive for the state of Houston’s passing.
Garret Graham – After sitting out Week 1 and barely being involved Week 2, Graham caught five passes for 41 yards. They were all short routes over the middle. We should see more days like this one, but his upside is certainly limited. Don’t use him against the Bills.
Randy Bullock – Made his one FG from 27 yards. Has made all his FGs except one short one that got blocked against Oakland. That was more on the blocking than a low kick.
Texans DST – The front seven surprisingly struggled some in this game. The pass rush was still strong, but the quick releases on Manning allowed minimal damage. Rashad Jennings dominated on the ground. This is a little surprising, but Houston was on the road, and the offense put the defense in bad field position at times. This is still a strong unit going forward.
Eli Manning – Much more on point with his WRs and TEs. The offense appears to be coming together to a certain extent. Should have had a third TD pass to Larry Donnell, but he fumbled just before the goal line. Manning is a solid under-the-radar play against a banged up Washington secondary.
Rashad Jennings – Got a crazy 34 carries for 176 yards and a TD. Jennings’ OL did a nice job, but he also did a nice job breaking a few tackles for a few extra yards up the middle. We probably won’t see that many carries in a game from him again. On a short week, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a little more Andre Williams, who got six touches last week. Jennings will still get 80 percent of the carries and is a decent play.
Victor Cruz – He finally got to salsa dance. Cruz had five receptions for 107 yards and a TD. The TD came on a 61-yard catch and run. Cruz is probably priced about right with Odell Beckham out, but when he comes back, Cruz should be closer to $6,000. Cruz simply isn’t a top-level WR and this offense doesn’t support Cruz’ upside from before. Nevertheless, he is the guy you would want to pair with Manning in a dark-horse GPP.
Ruben Randle – A quiet five catches for 27 yards. Randle can run a lot of different kind of routes, but Randle didn’t stretch the field much in this game. When Beckham is ready to go, he will take some of his production away. Beckham won’t be as productive as Cooks, but he is as good as any of the rookie WRs and will get looks from Manning.
Larry Donnell – Donnell has had outstanding value from the beginning and continues to do so at $4,900 on FanDuel. He had a terrible fumble just before the end zone, but had a solid six catches for 45 yards. He’s heavily targeted in the red zone and on third down. He leads the team in targets and catches and is a good play in all formats against Washington.
Josh Brown – He finally attempted three FGs and made them all. They were all from 39 yards or fewer. Brown is a very accurate kicker, but doesn’t have the strongest leg. He’s a similar kicker to Shaun Suisham. Don’t use Brown against the Redskins with a lower point projection.
Giants DST – Forced three turnovers on the Texans. Despite that they had a bad night against the Lions, the Giants defense is fairly well-rounded has impressed me quite a bit this season (with lower expectations). Definitely don’t use them against Washington on the road, but don’t hesitate to use them in the right matchup.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz