Last updated: October 25th at 8:15am ET
Team Totals: Saints 29, Cardinals 19
Winners of three straight albeit against the lowly Bengals, Falcons, and Giants, the Cardinals draw their toughest to-date test at the Superdome versus a Saints defense that held its last four quarterbacks faced to fantasy outcomes of QB14 or worse while moving to top five in the NFL in both sacks (20) and QB hits (45). Although Kyler Murray’s dual threat gives him potential to surpass expectations, Murray’s likeliest outcome is mid- to high-end QB2 production facing one of the NFL’s best defenses on the road. The Cards also happen to have allowed the league’s seventh-most sacks (23), keeping New Orleans’ D/ST in play. … Arizona’s signings of Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner strongly suggest they’ll again lean on Chase Edmonds with David Johnson (ankle/back) on the mend. Even as the Saints have held enemy backs to 3.99 yards per carry, only five teams have allowed more running back catches (43). Decisive, bursty, and versatile, Edmonds is shaping up as a legit RB1 play, especially after Kliff Kingsbury showed enough faith in Edmonds to place 29 touches and 94% of Arizona’s Week 7 offensive snaps onto Edmonds’ plate. On minimal practice time with their new team, Morris and Zenner project to serve as emergency options.
Murray’s 2019 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 55; David Johnson 41; Christian Kirk 36; KeeSean Johnson 33; Damiere Byrd 22; Edmonds 15; Charles Clay 11; Pharoh Cooper 10; Trent Sherfield 9; Maxx Williams 8; Andy Isabella 2. … Although Fitz has regressed into a PPR-oriented WR2/3 option without the big plays that keyed his fast start, he still has five-plus catches in 6-of-7 games and popped in Week 8’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. This is a plus draw; Fitzgerald runs over 90% of his routes inside, where the Saints have allowed 39 completions on 56 slot targets for 450 yards (8.04 YPA) and four TDs. … Barring a dramatic shift in Marshon Lattimore’s role, the Saints’ top corner will go to waste covering perimeter decoys Johnson, Byrd, Isabella, and Sherfield. Lattimore plays 98% of his snaps outside. … Kirk (ankle) went through another limited practice week after missing Arizona’s last three games and will probably be a game-time decision at New Orleans. Cooper played in Kirk’s place the last two weeks, logging target counts of 4 and 4 on 35% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps. Especially since Arizona plays on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, it would not be surprising if Kirk sat out one more game. … Williams has quietly emerged as a critical piece of Arizona’s offense, but mainly for his blocking prowess; he’s blocked on 67% of his snaps over the last three weeks. He would be a low-floor streamer at the Superdome.
Even with New Orleans going on bye next week and Teddy Bridgewater 5-0 in his absence, Drew Brees (thumb) has insisted he’ll play against the Cardinals. Sean Payton and the Saints’ medical staff may well opt for caution, and probably won’t announce a starter for as long as they possibly can, but Brees’ up-in-the-air status combined with Alvin Kamara’s (ankle/knee) similar uncertainty makes this game tough to break down. … So let’s just focus on matchups; Cardinals DC Vance Joseph’ defense has conceded top-12 quarterback scores in 5-of-7 weeks with a picturesque 17:1 TD-to-INT ratio against, setting up Brees for low-end QB1 valuation or Bridgewater for high-end QB2 production depending on which Saints signal caller starts. … Especially in a home game where they are favored by double digits, it would make theoretical sense for the Saints to give Kamara two full weeks off including their Week 9 bye, then try to explode with their offense at full strength down the stretch. But Kamara practiced on a limited basis this week and clearly has a chance to face the Cardinals, who are permitting 131.6 total yards per game to enemy running backs. Even if Kamara is active, Latavius Murray should maintain flex-play viability on RBBC usage. Over the last two games, Murray averaged 4.66 yards per carry and 8.3 yards per reception with two scores against the Jaguars and Bears. Murray has at least nine touches in three straight games.
Michael Thomas has proven to be the NFL’s most quarterback- and matchup-proof receiver, clearing 89 yards and/or scoring a touchdown in 7-of-7 games with Brees starting two and Bridgewater the other five. While Thomas may be talked down in some circles as risky against Patrick Peterson, it’s notable Thomas has caught 39% of his 2019 receptions in the slot, while Peterson covered the slot on just 3% of his Week 7 plays. Payton is well aware of opponent tendencies like this and will likely increase Thomas’ Week 8 slot rate. Just like last week, Thomas is an excellent DFS-tournament play. … The rest of New Orleans’ pass-catcher corps has been dust all year, regardless of Bridgewater or Brees’ under-center presence. Due to Arizona’s tight end coverage deficiencies, I suppose the one other guy I’d consider is Josh Hill, who appears likely to make another start in place of Jared Cook (ankle). Hill played 67% of the Saints’ Week 7 snaps, ran a season-high 19 routes, and logged 3/43/1 receiving on three targets against the Bears. Hill is still a touchdown-or-bust streamer in an offense where he’s never proactively featured.
Score Prediction: Saints 27, Cardinals 20