Monday Night Football
Philadelphia @ New Orleans
Unsurprisingly considering each team's defensive state, Philly-Saints had the highest over-under of Week 9 at 52 points. Todd Bowles' first game as Eagles defensive coordinator was a complete flop. The Eagles let the Falcons score on each of their first six possessions, and the ball barely hit the ground in Atlanta's passing attack until Matt Ryan mercifully took the pedal off the gas late in the game. Philadelphia is not generating pressure (31st in sacks), and the secondary isn't playing well, either. "(Nnamdi) Asomugha in three games this year has given up a perfect quarterback rating on plays in which he's been targeted," NFL Films' Greg Cosell revealed on Adam Caplan's Week 9 preview podcast. "So every time he's been targeted, the ball's been caught. Asomugha, at this moment in time, is a below-average NFL corner. (Dominique) Rodgers-Cromartie is also an average player at this point." Cosell said he'd be "very surprised" if the Saints didn't drop 30-plus points on the Eagles. Start Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and Marques Colston, and Lance Moore is squarely on the WR3 radar. ... Arguably the NFL's hottest receiver entering Week 8, Colston was limited to 63 yards on five catches because the Broncos shadowed him with Champ Bailey all over the field. Bailey doesn't typically play in the slot -- where most of Colston's pass routes are run -- so the strategy wasn't especially predictable. Colston should draw Asomugha Monday night in what will be a far more fantasy-friendly matchup.
Graham returned from his ankle injury in Week 8 to play 41-of-62 downs (66.1 percent) and catch 5-of-10 targets for 63 yards and a touchdown. He's typically a 75-80 percent player, so look for a healthier, more involved Graham with an extra day between games. ... Moore played the same number of Week 8 snaps as Graham, but his targets (6) and production (3-25) took a hit. Moore is a WR2/3 when Colston or Graham sits out. When they both play, Moore is a matchup-dependent WR3. This is a favorable matchup. ... After consecutive 75-plus-yard efforts, Devery Henderson went catch-less in last week's loss to Denver. It's a reminder that he's one of fantasy's least consistent receivers and not worth the headache. ... Darren Sproles' fractured hand will sideline him for Week 9, although there is optimism he'll return in Week 10. Temporarily, at least, Sproles' absence will likely catapult Pierre Thomas from a ten touch-per-game player into the 14-20 range, dramatically increasing Thomas' fantasy value. He is a high-upside RB2/flex on Monday Night Football. ... The impact on Ingram's role remains to be seen. He may handle a few more carries with Thomas' receiving work increasing, but ultimately we're in wait-and-see mode. Keep in mind the majority of Sproles' touches have come as a receiver. He's averaging four carries per game, compared to six catches. And since Ingram is not a passing-game contributor, most of those receptions project to go to Thomas. ... Chris Ivory figures to be active Monday night and third in line for rushing attempts. ... Travaris Cadet is a rookie to monitor. He'll replace Sproles on returns, and could also see some snaps in Sproles' "satellite" back role on offense. Cadet was Sproles' direct backup on the Chase Daniel-engineered Saints second-team offense in preseason games.
In his first game back from the Week 7 bye, Michael Vick played tentatively in a dumbed-down offense ostensibly designed to limit turnovers. Vick was takeaway-free against the Falcons, but the conservative plan of "attack" was thoroughly ineffective, and an obvious recipe for failure when Philly's defense collapsed, forcing Vick into comeback mode. By all accounts, Monday night's game will serve as Vick's audition for the season's remainder. He'll be benched for Nick Foles if he doesn't deliver. If he does and leads Philly to victory against the league's worst defense, the Eagles will be back to .500, squarely reentering the NFC East hunt. Due to the matchup, there is no question that Vick should be started in fantasy leagues. ... Jeremy Maclin has been an utter disappointment this season, and suffered two killer, late-game drops against Atlanta that could have turned his game around. All that said, Maclin has a highly favorable Week 9 matchup against Saints RCB Patrick Robinson. Maclin runs the majority of his pass routes against right cornerbacks, and Robinson was lit up so badly last week that New Orleans benched him in-game for reserve slot corner Johnny Patrick. Robinson got smoked by Demaryius Thomas (7-137-1).
LCB Jabari Greer remains the Saints' top cover corner, but Eric Decker (4-43-2) got the better of him in the red zone last week. Greer will match up with DeSean Jackson for most of this week's Monday nighter. Jackson is a borderline WR2/3 play. ... Brent Celek is averaging just 33.4 receiving yards over his past five games, but he's on the bye-week TE1 replacement radar this week simply because Eagles-Saints projects as high scoring. Both offenses should move the ball offensively, and feed off each other in terms of filling up the box score. ... LeSean McCoy has been the only guy scoring touchdowns in Philadelphia of late. McCoy has four TDs in his last three games despite disappointing rushing-yard stats. Those yardage numbers should come up on Monday Night Football. New Orleans ranks 31st in the league in run defense and is silver-plattering 5.03 yards per carry. Only the Bills have allowed more rushing touchdowns this year.
Score Prediction: Eagles 34, Saints 30
Start or Sit: Philadelphia at New Orleans
Kay Adams (@heykayadams) breaks down tonight's Eagles - Saints matchup, including whether Michael Vick is truly a great start and what to expect from Pierre Thomas. Kay also looks at the other key fantasy options for Monday night.
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