Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas May Be Unstoppable in Fantasy as Saints D Regresses - Roto Street Journal
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Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas May Be Unstoppable in Fantasy as Saints D Regresses

Despite a promising 2017, the Saints Defense took a major step backwards against… the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bucs. New Orleans shockingly lost 48-40 in a thrilling shootout, surrendering 529 total yards in the process. With the defensive regression, Drew Brees and the passing game were leaned upon heavily, and encouragingly exploded. Brees went 37/45 (82%!) for 439 yards and 3 scores yet somehow lost. In the process, Mike Thomas redefined “Target Hog,” hauling in an absurd 16-of-17 looks for 180 yards and 1 TD, while Alvin Kamara looked every bit his “Cheatcode” self, totaling 141 yards, 3 TDs, and 9 receptions. 

If these defensive woes aren’t corrected fast, Brees, Kamara, Thomas and this passing game will explode like the Saints of yesteryear. Keep in mind, the Saints are notoriously slow-starters on defense. They’ve allowed 529, 555, and 486 yards in their past three home openers, and were demolished during an 0-2 start last year. Moreover, they supposedly upgraded their d-line and could easily rebound.

But if they don’t? Look out. Before last season, the Saints passing game had to always lug their dead weight defense every season. In fact, the Saints ranked Top-5 in Passing Attempts in 9 of 10 seasons under Sean Payton, and had always finished in the Top-5 in passing yardage. Moreover, Brees hadn’t dipped below 32 passing TDs since 2008. A revamped rushing attack and strong defense changed this last year, and the Saints would like to maintain this balance… but may be forced to alter those plans. Fitzpatrick may be the worst QB they face all year, and he just tore them limb-by-limb.

As such, Thomas will be an absolute monster worthy of No.1 Fantasy Consideration. 16 receptions on 17 targets is insanity, both from a volume and efficiency standpoint. Meanwhile, Kamara will remain an absolute monster. He was in on 81% of the Saints’ snaps, which trailed only James Conner (92%) and Ezekiel Elliott (92%), while his previous career high was 64.8%. Yes, Mark Ingram‘s absence obviously played a role, but Kamara’s usage feels unlikely to change if the team is in constant catch-up mode. Even better – Kamara ran 18 routes while line up at WR, and 37 total routes — 17 more than Tyreek Hill (via @ScottBarrett). He’s truly unstoppable with such varied, unique usage.

While the Saints’ passing game has always been legendary, it’s also never been so concentrated to two weapons. Thomas and Kamara are already Round 1 studs, but will be true season-winners if these defensive deficiencies aren’t fixed.

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