There are some recurring themes in the Buccaneers-Saints rivalry, which means we can make a few assumptions about what we'll see on Sunday when those two teams square off yet again:
- It could very well be settled on the final drive. Six of the last 12 meetings have been settled by seven points or fewer. Two of those were decided in overtime.
- The game is going to be high scoring. I had to scroll all the way back to December 4, 2005, to find the last game that didn't have at least 30 points scored. Chris Simms quarterbacked against Aaron Brooks that day. In the 19 games since, only four have had a total below 40. The average final total: 45.2.
- If your fantasy team has a Buccaneer or a Saint player, play them! Put our two previous assumptions together and it's quite safe to assume that this Bucs vs. Saints matchup, like many in the past, will be a fantasy gold mine. Those 45 points are six and a half touchdowns per game. Make sure those scores aren't on your bench.
Of course, it would be irresponsible of me to leave you with just that. So, once again, lets delve a little deeper into tomorrow's matchup and see which players could go off for your team in Week 2.
Points Through the Air
The quarterback outlook is the same as last week. If you have Drew Brees, he's going to be in your starting lineup. Jameis Winston is owned in over a quarter of leagues, but far more often than not as a backup. He finished with 13 points last week and should have another decent outing again in Week 2. He could put up starter numbers in two-quarterback leagues, but in standard, he needs a little time before he is lineup-ready.
In weekly leagues, on the other hand, Winston could be a great value play. He has a low cost and a high ceiling in this game. New Orleans allowed 25 points to Carson Palmer last week.
At receiver, if you own them, they should be a go this week. Mike Evans is again questionable but has said that he feels 100%. If he goes, he should find your starting lineup, but keep an eye on the inactive list Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. ET. Same goes for Vincent Jackson. He scored just five points last week but was targeted 11 times, which can translate into a lot of points against the Saints secondary.
Two Arizona receivers tied for the 20th most points in Week 1, scoring 14 apiece in PPR leagues. The Saints defense is missing starting cornerback Keenan Lewis and free safety Jairus Byrd, as well as Byrd's replacement Rafael Bush. With a lot of injuries in the secondary they're facing, the Buccaneers could rack up decent chunks of yardage and ultimately fantasy points.
Finally, it seems that many fantasy projectors were on the money predicting a breakout year for Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He was thrown at seven times (a number that might dip slightly with the return of Evans), but that shows he was a favorite target of Winston. Last week, the Saints allowed 19 fantasy points to tight ends. With a third-string safety starting this one, despite not many performances to go on for the tight end, ASJ is a solid starter this week.
New Orleans is always a threat in their aerial attack and the group could see significant points this week if the game is a shootout. Brandon Coleman (35.4% owned) led their team in PPR points with 14, but it is Brandin Cooks who could be the fantasy stud in this one. The Buccaneers allowed 4 catches, 101 yards and a score to Tennessee's #1 receiver Kendall Wright last week. The speedy Cooks could see a similar outing tomorrow.
Coleman and Marques Colston both saw seven targets last week so the jury is still out on which one will step up as the second-leading fantasy receiver on the Saints this year. Both look to be boom-or-bust players this week, which can be stressful on fantasy owners. Each has a low floor but a high ceiling in this game, so fill your flex with caution.
The tight end situation in New Orleans is also a bit dicey. Coming into the year, Josh Hill looked to be the most solid fantasy prospect, but he was held off the stat sheet against an Arizona defense that is notoriously generous to tight ends. Benjamin Watson had three grabs for 19 yards, but that is hardly inspirational for a starting lineup. Both have a chance to score every week, but neither is even close to a sure thing.
Just in case it hasn't been obvious in everything you've read to this point, you might want to hit the waiver wire before 1 PM if either team is currently your starting defense.
Running Back Breakouts
Both teams' top running backs are owned in more than 90% of ESPN leagues (which seems ridiculous they'd be under 100%, are there a lot of four-team leagues?) and their owners are expecting big returns. In Week 1, neither lived up to a fairly high draft spot, but both seem primed to enjoy a solid game this week.
Leading the way for the Buccaneers is Doug Martin, who posted a very football-friendly 4.7 yards per carry against the Titans, but on only 11 carries; that equates to just 52 yards, or five fantasy points. Down by so much so early in the game, the Bucs were forced to abandon their running game to some extent. This week, if the game can stay close like so many Bucs vs. Saints contests have, expect many more rushing chances for Martin.
On top of that, he faces a defense that allowed Arizona's running backs to gain 4.8 yards per carry for 106 rushing yards, 62 receiving yards and two touchdowns. There is a slight risk that the Bucs could get behind and be forced to abandon the run again, but the reward of playing Martin looks high if he does near 20 carries in this game. He is a safe flex option with the upside of a high RB2.
The Saints' Mark Ingram posted 19 PPR points last week as the team's leading passing target. He had eight catches for 98 yards, but on the ground he managed just 24 yards on nine carries. The Buccaneers allowed 115 rushing yards, so Ingram owners should be able to expect a bit more yardage on the ground from their starter this week. He, as usual, should be in your lineup, no matter the format this week.
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Fellow RB C.J. Spiller is listed as questionable this week after not playing in the first game of the season. If he is active, he is not a safe play yet, as he will likely be quite limited. Last week's backup Khiry Robinson, like Ingram, struggled in the run game (eight carries, 19 yards), but had five catches for 51. He could be a sneaky (yet far from safe) weekly league play, but you likely have better options in regular fantasy leagues.
Bottom line, if any Saints or Buccaneers player left you a bit underwhelmed fantasy-wise a week ago, don't let that be the reason to store them on the bench or, even worse, dump them into free agency. Forty-five points per game over the last decade is a strong indication that there will be plenty of fantasy love to go around inside the Superdome.