In Week 2, Drew Brees and the Saints traveled to Las Vegas face the Raiders on Monday Night Football at the brand new Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders won in their first home game to bring the team to a 2-0 record, as the Saints fell to 1-1.
It was a historical night for the Las Vegas Raiders, as they played their first game in Sin City, and the team showed up for it. The team tallied 35 rushing attempts on the evening and won the time of possession battle with 36:18. Derek Carr completed 73.7% of passes, a feat he's accomplished in just 17.7% of his career games. Most importantly? The team played clean football.
The Saints' true Achilles heel was their penalties on Monday Night Football. The Saints racked up 10 penalties for 129 yards to the Raiders' 3-23. For some perspective, just nine NFL teams have managed 129 penalty yards in the first two games of the season, combined.
Jon Gruden's roster rebuild may finally be gaining traction after racking up draft picks over the last two seasons. This is just the fourth time since 2000 that the Raiders have started the season 2-0, and in two of the three previous seasons, the team has gone to the playoffs.
The Decline of Brees?
For a second, let's pretend that the narrative that Jon Gruden's Raiders beating a Sean Payton-led Saints in primetime wasn't the main story here. If there's been any game to showcase the effects of Father Time, it's been this one. It was Brees' first game without Michael Thomas at wide receiver since Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season; is it a coincidence that we saw him get outplayed by Carr?
In Monday night's matchup, Brees completed just four passes of 10 or more yards per Next Gen Stats, with most of his completions behind or within five yards of the line of scrimmage. It's never necessarily been his M.O., however. Brees had an average depth of target of just 6.9 yards in 2019, ranking 34th among NFL quarterbacks and ironically tying with Raiders QB Carr. The real money always lies in his efficiency, however.
Brees is the only quarterback in NFL history with who has achieved multiple seasons of a 70% completion rate on 200+ passes. He's done it in each of the last three years (with Michael Thomas at receiver, notably) but has started the year at 64.7% over the first two games. Brees has also seen a dip in yards per pass attempt, averaging 6.9 yards per pass attempt, to tie with Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor. That's down from his career average of 7.8 yards per attempt. We haven't seen the same level of precision and efficiency that has made Brees his money in our limited sample size in 2020.
The fantasy slant: Outside of Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller, it will be difficult to trust any asset in Vegas until we see these rookie and sophomore wideouts separate from the pack. Carr is worth discussion in two-quarterback leagues, but suffice it to say, his upside is limited. Brees has been a top-tier quarterback for what seems like centuries now, but it may be time to throw in the towel. Brees is the QB23 through two games, and didn't necessarily look much better at home in Week 1. Particularly in the absence of Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara should continue to get a nice boost in the receiving game and is an every-week must start. Thomas is eager to get back on the field as soon as possible and has a chance to play in Week 3, but considering the fact that this was a lower-body injury, he may need some time to bounce back to full fantasy form.
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Quick Slants ... AKA Lots of Injury Updates
An MRI has formally confirmed that 49ers DE Nick Bosa has torn his left ACL. 2019's Defensive Rookie of the Year had registered six combined tackles and a QB hit in his 68 defensive snaps played in 2020. ... The bad news for the 49ers doesn't stop there. The backfield just became an even bigger question mark, if that was possible. News came Tuesday that the team was concerned about a knee injury for RB Tevin Coleman. He's expected to miss "multiple weeks." RB Jerick McKinnon should be expected to assume the bulk of the load in the absence of Mostert and Coleman. He should be a priority add in fantasy leagues after totaling 121 scrimmage yards on his first nine touches of the season. Next up on the depth chart behind McKinnon is Jeff Wilson Jr. Wilson doesn't have a voluptuous resume, but he's an intriguing add in standard formats, having ranked second in team carries inside the five in 2019. He converted for of those six attempts inside the five-yard line for a touchdown. Is a Devonta Freeman appearance in order? ... Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin has cleared the concussion protocol and is good to go for the team's Week 3 match up. ... RB Christian McCaffrey is expected to miss several weeks with an ankle injury. Gadget WR Curtis Samuel saw four rushing attempts, the second-highest on the team, ahead of McCaffrey's injury, but journeyman RB Mike Davis is next up on the depth chart. Davis had his most successful seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, where he averaged 11 touches and 52 scrimmage yards per game. He's worth an add in PPR leagues as a capable receiver in today's waiver wire landscape. ... QB Tyrod Taylor is considered week to week with a chest injury that held him out of Sunday's contest against the Chiefs. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has continued to reiterate that Taylor is the team's starter when healthy, but if Herbert continues to look as capable as he did in Week 2, the team will have a big decision to make ... Free Agent RB Devonta Freeman had a visit with Giants Tuesday. ... Rookie RB Cam Akers has suffered separated cartilage in his ribs" and is considered day to day. Darrell Henderson could be a high-upside play in Week 3 coming off a Week 2 performance of 121 scrimmage yards on 14 total touches. ... Bills TE Dawson Knox is in the concussion protocol.