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Fantasy Game of the Week: Week 6

Getting a home game after their bye, Drew Brees and the Saints are in line for some big numbers this weekend against the Panthers.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Did I say the Panthers-Buccaneers game was the game of the week last week? Oh, I must have been thinking about the Panthers-Saints game this week…my bad people! But seriously, three turnovers Derek Anderson?! Three!? And one of them at the goal-line?! You’re killing me! Well, at least if you had Greg Olsen in that game you didn’t even notice anything since he managed to get over 180 receiving yards...I know I wasn’t alone in thinking that Anderson would be an o.k. replacement for Cam Newton, but still, sorry if you had to suffer through that if you used him as a starter. Unfortunately, Jameis Winston and the Bucs weren’t much better, as the game turned into a low scoring affair. But again, at least the primary receiver, Mike Evans, didn’t turn in a total dud.

You know what you do when something like this happens? Double down of course! Don’t let me down again Carolina! I believe!

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints – Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 p.m., Over/Under: 53

The Panthers

Now that’s an Over/Under! Despite how he played last week, Derek Anderson is a capable backup quarterback, but the probable return of Cam Newton will provide a boost to the Panthers, both on offense and from a morale standpoint. You know what else should help? Facing off against the Saints’ defense. Sean Payton’s defense has been both notoriously and historically awful over the past several seasons and that trend has obviously continued. New Orleans has given up the 10th most points in the league overall…and they’ve already had their bye! They’re also in the bottom 10 in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs and Newton should be coming back with a vengeance after missing a game due to a concussion and facing some criticism in the media for coasting on the play in which he was injured, as well as others like it. Cam hasn’t been the super-elite player you were expecting if you drafted him very highly, but he’s still had games of 23 and 40 fantasy points out of the four he’s started. It sounds like he’s going to play, as he’s been practicing this week, and you’re obviously starting him if he’s in there, but I just wanted to remind people that against this defense, I’d have no problem ranking him as the #1 QB this week.

You saw what Greg Olsen did last week, right? I mentioned it earlier, but his totals were 9 catches on 13 targets for 181 yards, as he torched Tampa Bay all night. Like I said last week, he’s the #1 TE in fantasy and you have no reason to remove him from your lineups other than injury. Despite Derek Anderson’s performance, WR Kelvin Benjamin didn’t kill your team last week, scoring 7 fantasy points with 5 catches on 9 targets for 70 yards. Excluding an outlier performance against Minnesota in Week 3 when he gave you a goose-egg, that 7 point total was Benjamin’s lowest of the season, as he put up 9, 15 and 22 in the other 3 games, making him one of the more reliable fantasy options at the position. Cam seems to lock in on him at times and while this may be a bad thing for the actual offense, it’s a good thing for Benjamin’s fantasy outlook and he gets to go up against a Saints’ defense that has allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to opposing WRs. If he’s not in your lineups, he should be. You shouldn’t be interested in any other receiving options here unless you’re in super deep leagues or just going for a homerun in DFS tournaments with someone like Ted Ginn Jr.

Cameron Artis-Payne sure showed me! I was against starting him in the match-up with the Bucs and believed Fozzy Whittaker would be a better option for fantasy players, but Artis-Payne racked up 85 yards on 18 carries for a 4.7 yards per carry (YPC) average, as well as 2 touchdowns. Whittaker was extremely effective with his limited touches – 5 rushes for 45 yards and 1 catch for 9 yards – but didn’t receive enough to make a legitimate fantasy impact. I would recommend starting Artis-Payne this week against a Saints’ rush defense that has allowed both the most rushing TDs and the most fantasy points per game to RBs so far this season, but there are rumbles that lead-back Jonathan Stewart could return this week after a 3-game absence with a hamstring injury. If Stewart does play in this game, it could throw a wrench into the plans of fantasy owners to use any of these guys, as I wouldn’t expect him to receive a full workload in his first game back, but he would likely get enough to limit Artis-Payne’s fantasy value. Keep an eye on the situation as the week progresses, if Stewart is ruled out, Artis-Payne is a fine play.

The Saints

What’s that? The Saints are at home this week? Sign me up! I’ve written about Drew Brees and the Saints’ home vs. road splits and the difference drastic. Just looking at the 4 games Brees has played this season tells you all you need to know. Here are Brees’ fantasy point totals at home this season: 40 points in Week 1 against Oakland and 32 against Atlanta in Week 3. Now here are his points scored on the road: 16 points against the Giants and 18 against the Chargers. Once again, that’s an average of 36 fantasy points at home and just 17 on the road. Coming off of a bye at home against a young, inexperienced, beatable secondary of Carolina is something all fantasy owners should be interested in. Brees is a Top-3 guy this week.

Since Week 1 when he went off for 27 fantasy points on 6 catches for 143 yards and 2 TDs, WR Brandin Cooks has been held to just 10 fantasy points total. I’m really not sure what to do with Cooks long term because New Orleans’ passing game doesn’t really go through him like most top-tier receivers. Brees spreads the ball around a ton and gets everyone involved to get his stats, but since I’m expecting big things from Brees, I’d expect Cooks to at least be a fine start. And as I said earlier, the Panthers’ defense isn’t scaring anybody off. Cooks’ counterpart, Willie Snead, appears to actually be the more reliable option for both Drew Brees and fantasy owners…at least when he plays. After scoring 23 fantasy points in Week 1 and 11 in Week 2, Snead was held out of Week 3 with a toe injury and although he played in Week 4 prior to their bye, he appeared to be limited. After getting a week to rest, I’d get Snead in my lineup as at least a flex and even as a low-end WR2 against the Panthers’ mediocre-at-best 17th ranked pass defense. The WR3 here is Michael Thomas and he’s actually been a useful fantasy option if you played him, scoring 5 points in each in the first 2 games, then 13 and 10 in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. He should probably be owned, but I wouldn’t trust him as anything more than a flex or WR3, especially if Snead is back to full strength. But wait, there’s more! Big things were expected from free-agent addition TE Coby Fleener, but he’s had three total duds in which he’s scored 2 fantasy points or less and one 16 point explosion against Atlanta. On the other hand, the TE position is disgusting overall and the Panthers have given up the 4th most fantasy points per game to opposing TEs. This is a week that I would roll Fleener out there and expect at least decent numbers, especially since the Saints are at home and should rack up some yardage and points. See?! This is why the Saints’ offense is so infuriating for fantasy!

At least there’s no question about the RB position in New Orleans, as Mark Ingram is the only guy you’re playing here. After mediocre games in the first two weeks, Ingram stepped up his performance in Weeks 3 and 4, scoring 18 and 15 fantasy points, respectively. The Panthers have given up some chunk yardage on the ground, but overall they’ve been pretty strong against the run and are 4th in overall yards per carry allowed with just 3.4. They’re also middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs, but if you have Ingram he’s probably at least your RB2 and likely your RB1, so you’re starting him either way. I wouldn’t bench him at home anyway and he’s probably still a low-end RB1 here.

That’s it for this week! As always, you can find me on Twitter @GarrettHobgood if you have any questions and comments. Good luck to everyone in Week 6!