The Saints/Packers opener was one of the best season debuts I can remember. Coming down to the final yard, both offenses put up huge numbers for us fantasy guys, both defenses/special teams made big plays, and we actually found out some usable information for some fake roster changes:
Saints Backfield – Ingram’s the Guy: Even though Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas both outscored Ingram fantasy-wise, I’m actually higher on Ingram than I was entering the game. He didn’t make any big plays, but looked confident and more the every-down back than Sproles and Thomas. Of course Sproles made big plays in both the passing and return games with 7 catches and a punt-return TD, but he’s about the same value he was in San Diego. I had a few questions earlier this season from readers in return yardage leagues; if Sproles is still out there, pick him up immediately. It looks like he’s the sole return guy for New Orleans right now. Thomas had a nasty run, breaking tacklers left and right to end the first quarter, but I don’t think he’s a big factor all year. The Saints aren’t going to be in shootouts like this one every week, and Ingram will get the lion’s share of carries when the Saints put up big leads early. If you can nab him for a discount from an owner with an itchy trigger finger after this disappointing first game, I wouldn’t hesitate.
Packers Backfield – Kuhn and Friends: Ryan Grant got the first touch for the Packers backfield, but he didn’t look good… at all. He seemed tentative hitting the hole and pretty rusty, but you can’t really blame the guy after missing almost all of last year. James Starks got the ball more and more as the game went on and scored a nice TD at the end of the second quarter. The carries got split at Starks with 12 and Grant with 9, and that ratio seems about right for the rest of the year if both stay healthy. Kuhn also factored in with a goal-line TD, adding to the mess that is the Packers backfield. Starks is the clear-cut guy to own for me, but I wouldn’t want to start any of these guys unless in deeper leagues.
Packers Receiving Corps – James Jones’ Disappearing Act: I actually liked James Jones as your final WR heading into the season, but he had one catch of the ultimate garbage-ness for 1 yard on a third-and-long late in the 4th quarter. What about that 3-year extension he just signed, I thought they liked him…? Mike McCarthy was like, “Hey guys, Jones has barely been on the field, let’s at least remind him what catching a football is like.” Jordy Nelson looked like a beast, Donald Driver didn’t seem like he needed his walker, and Randall Cobb made a big play on a quick slant taken in for a score (he also had a kickoff return, the Sportscenter top play this morning, and is another guy to target in return yardage leagues). All of those guys playing well along side Jennings and Finley means James Jones should be dropped… everywhere. I don’t care if you’re in an NFC North only league. I will reach across the computer and slap you if you don’t drop him. As my boy J-Roc would say, “Know what I’m sayyyyyyin???”
Saints Receiving Corps – A Taste for Everyone: Only 6 receivers caught balls for the Saints, with no one having less than 4 catches. That’s the kind of box score we love for fantasy (none of that one catch for one yard nonsense James Jones!). Jimmy Graham had a nice debut to back-up his inflated ADP, and Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles got plenty of looks out of the backfield. A lot of owners are going to run to the wire and grab Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson, as both had TDs and 70 & 100 yards respectively, but I don’t think either of them are particularly interesting for the rest of the year. Sure they’ll have big games, we’ve seen it happen from either Henderson, Meachem or Lance Moore here and there, but Marques Colston is still the class of the Saints receivers and Moore will be back before you know it. If you start any Saints WR past Colston, you might end up with a goose egg on your hands.
Awesome QBs: Brees and Rodgers were awesome. As usual.
If you missed the game, you missed a first-rate thriller. But that’s OK, the weekend is just around the corner with a great slate of openers (minus my Panthers vs. the Cardinals – Buzz’s girlfriend – woof!). Shoot me any and all questions you have about this game or about your line-up heading into the weekend.