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Week 4 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 33, New York Giants 18


What you need to know

New Orleans Saints

This game looked a lot more like the Saints from a year ago than what we have seen on the field so far this year. A much more balanced pass to rushing attack (34 attempts passing to 32 attempts rushing) and the run game accounting for all 3 touchdowns. It was a day where Drew Brees was not asked to do too much, and the team was able to pull away late on the legs of Alvin Kamara. It may not have been the prettiest of wins, but at the end of the day it moved the Saints to 3-1. Brees struggled to connect with his receivers this week and finished with his worst stat line of the season. Back up Taysom Hill threw 2 passes this week and was given the second most carries on the team. Brees does not have anything to worry about from Hill, but it is interesting to see the Saints featuring him more in the offense as the season wears on. The defense played much better this week and forced 2 turnovers of the Giants and held Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley largely in check for most of the game. The Saints play host to the Redskins on Monday night next week and will welcome running back Adrian Peterson back to town. This will also mark the end of Mark Ingram's 4 game suspension due to performance enhancing drugs.

New York Giants

- Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack was woefully conservative on Sunday against a suspect Saints defense. Pass protection is still a massive concern for this team but they need to score big plays with Beckham to remain competitive, there was no sign of any deep threat from anyone on Sunday for the Giants.

- Barkley remains a must start, showing incredible talent and additional value in PPR leagues. No other Giant running back is worth owning. Gallman looked solid early on but fumbled and was not seen again.

- Shepard will outproduce Beckham in games like this but it's very rare and not a trend going forward. Evan Engram is missed in this offense as he provided relief for Manning when a first down was needed.

New Orleans Saints

QB Drew Brees, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 217 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -1 - 0
We watched as Brees consecutive games with a touchdown streak ended last season as he almost played second fiddle to the running game. Then we saw a renewed commitment to Brees and the passing game with Mark Ingram serving a suspension to start the season and an unwillingness to give Kamara the ball consistently. Brees broke out in a big way last week and looked to carry that into this week. Then he struggled with accuracy and watched as the run game established itself and carried the team to victory again. He did have 4 plays of 20+ yards in the passing game, but he never even sniffed the end zone this week. He targeted Kamara 9 times and never found a rhythm with Michael Thomas like he has previously this year. His longest play of the game came on a 25-yard catch and run by Kamara just after the two-minute warning before half time. This set up an eventual field goal after he could not connect with Watson in the end zone with 21 seconds left before half time. With the return of Mark Ingram next week, it will be interesting to see how close a split the Saints have in rushing and passing attempts.

RB Alvin Kamara, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 134 - 3, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (9 targets)
Kamara was trying to make a statement the week before Mark Ingram comes back from suspension. He has had a very up and down season so far as the Saints have not committed to using him like a lead back. Through 3 weeks he has had more value through the air than on the ground, but that changed this week. Kamara kicked things off with a 9-yard scamper behind the left guard for his touchdown. New Orleans lined up with Taysom Hill at quarterback and went read option for the touchdown. Hill has been a threat to throw the ball after a successful fake punt play, but it was always going to be a run play in this situation. The second touchdown was a 4-yard plunge where he was originally ruled short of the goal line. After a review the play was overturned, and Kamara awarded his second touchdown. His 3rd and final touchdown was the dagger for the Giants. Kamara burst off tackle for 49 yards and put the game out of reach. He turned the corner and put on the jets all the way to the end zone. Kamara also hauled in 5 of his team high 9 targets this week and had the same number of yards as Michael Thomas through the air. The split for carries should still favor Kamara with Ingram coming back and he should not lose his value in the passing game, but it will be interesting to see how much Ingram cuts into his overall number of touches.

WR Michael Thomas, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 47 - 0 (4 targets)
After averaging 10 catches per game, over 100 yards, and a touchdown in the first 3 weeks of the season, Thomas was a mere after thought in the offense today. He had less than half the targets of Alvin Kamara with 4 and 16 fewer yards than team leader Josh Hill this week. Brees has relied heavily on Thomas all season to this point but left him hanging for the most part this week. He had 1 reception of 15 yards to help set up a field goal before half time but was held in check by a Giants secondary the rest of the game. The return of Mark Ingram could also spell a reduction in targets for Thomas if they shift back to a run first offense. There could be a whole new dynamic in New Orleans next week against the Redskins.

WR Cameron Meredith, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (4 targets)
The Saints seem to finally be giving Meredith the keys to the offense as they feel more comfortable with him in their scheme. He is pushing Ted Ginn for targets and is just another weapon for Brees down the field. He caught 3 of his 4 targets this week and was tied for second with Michael Thomas for total targets this week. Meredith has a wider skill set than Ginn and can be used in more situations. He had a nice 20-yard catch and run slant across the middle for his longest play of the game. Meredith is going to be highly dependent on volume and we will not know exactly what he will see until they work Mark Ingram back into the offense.

WR Ted Ginn, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0 (3 targets)
The term boom or bust gets thrown around a lot with players in the NFL, but Ginn was a prime example of the bust end of the spectrum this week. He had flourished in the offense to this point with Brees throwing the ball a lot in the first 3 weeks but floundered this week when there was more competition for targets. With Cameron Meredith stepping up and receiving more attention, Ginn is going to be even more dependent on the big play going forward. He did not catch any of his 3 targets this week and may lose out on even more work with the return of Ingram next week.

TE Ben Watson, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (3 targets)
After putting together a much better game with Brees last week, the TE/QB duo regressed this week. Watson only managed to snare 1 of his 3 targets this week albeit for 23 yards. He did get an opportunity in the red zone just before half time to cash in for a touchdown. Watson had a free release into the flat but lost ground to the safety towards the side line. Brees threw a perfect ball into his arms just ahead of the coverage, but Watson could not complete the catch to the ground and it popped free as he rolled out of bounds. This is the kind of catch he is expected to make or he will risk losing snaps and targets. Backup tight end Josh Hill led the team in receiving yards this week but is not expected to push Watson for playing time just yet.


New York Giants

QB Eli Manning, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 41 - 255 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0
Eli Manning's up and down season in 2018 was down again as the Giants struggled to move the ball throughout this game. Manning started off well, leading a drive into the endzone in the first quarter. He hit Shepard on the outside with a perfectly placed pass away from the defender for the score. Things started to unravel in the passing game after that drive unfortunately for the Giants. The Giants pass protection was poor inside and allowed significant pressure up the middle very frequently, which bothered Manning. He was forced into rushing a lot of progression reads and kept most of his passes very short. The Giants passing game struggled to push the ball down the field and Manning checked most of his passes down which resulted in very short gains. This lead to failed third down conversions, the Giants punting a lot and very mediocre offensive production. Manning targeted Beckham a lot, tried to give him room to run after the catch but he was tackled quickly for the most part. Barkley was another solid option, setting up screens and providing relief when possible. Manning tried to hit Barkley in the endzone on a fade pattern but the defender had it covered the entire time. He almost threw an interception trying to force another pass in the redzone outside but it fell incomplete. Manning had to eat several big sacks on third down and some of these negative plays put the Giants in a very difficult situation to convert. He floated a nice pass into the arms of Shepard as the game was winding down on a corner route which was nice but the game was decided at that point.

Manning and the Giants failed to test the Saints defense deep and were very conservative throughout. The offensive line woes continue to plague the interior of the unit and it doesn't seem like the Giants know how to address these issues.

RB Saquon Barkley, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 44 - 1, Rec: 6 - 56 - 0 (8 targets)
Saquon Barkley gave full effort on Sunday and looks like he has all the talent required to dominate in this league, he just needs more help around him. The Giants offensive line and passing attack was poor on Sunday and the running game was quickly abandoned. They also were trailing the Saints for the majority of this game so the bulk of the responsibility was placed on the shoulders of Manning. Barkley remained a constant in this offense however, despite the ground attack not functioning well. He provided a solid option for Manning when the pressure was closing in and made a few plays with screen plays. Barkley was running downhill a bit more in this game, driving through defenders and falling forward when possible. He was also excellent at making the first man hover and waive while he scrambles for a few extra yards, which made all the difference at times. Barkley had a very explosive run outside as he cut back and the defense lost contain temporarily while he picked up 28 yards on the ground. His speed was evident when given an open lane, the Giants just need to be more balanced with their offense. He had a rushing touchdown as time was winding down, the Giants ran the ball from the 1 yard line. Barkley showed what an explosive leap he had, diving over the top and extending the ball to break the line and score for the Giants. He remains productive and a must start for fantasy owners, especially in PPR leagues but he needs more help around him to unlock his true potential.

RB Wayne Gallman, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 17 - 0 (3 targets)
Wayne Gallman fumbled early in this game and was not heard from again. He can't reliably produce alongside Barkley in this offense, not worth rostering in any league.

WR Sterling Shepard, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 77 - 1 (10 targets)
Sterling Shepard was a very solid contributor to the Giants on Sunday and played his part well, though his presence was inconsistent due to the poor state the Giants offense finds itself in. Shepard got open in the redzone early on an out breaking pattern, securing a nice ball from Manning for the score. His route running was on point as it typically is and he excels at getting open from the slot position.

He moved the chains in several other occasions for the Giants, getting the ball on curl or other short patterns while getting enough for the first down. Shepard was turned loose by the defense on a deep play outside down the sideline, Manning found him for a big play and Shepard made the most of it. Shepard was unlucky not to score on a terrific catch in the redzone which was just a few yards shy of the goal line. He hauled in a pass over the shoulder from Manning, perfectly placed away from the defender but Shepard was wrestled out of bounds before he could try to get the score. Shepard also scored the 2 point conversion on a simple play to the outside, again showing good agility and route running to gain separation. Shepard has been a solid fantasy player in recent weeks but it still feels inconsistent. Beckham was not a factor in this game and Shepard got more catches but this unlikely to repeat most weeks.

WR Odell Beckham Jr, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 7 - 60 - 0 (11 targets)
Odell Beckham was somewhat underused in this game as the Giants struggled to move the ball at all. Beckham was not targeted downfield and the majority of his passes were kept very short to the line of scrimmage.

The Saints have shown weaknesses in the secondary and a guy like Beckham should have had better success but the Giants didn't/couldn't get him the ball. He was open a few times in this game and Manning failed to get him the ball, either missing too high or throwing behind him but those plays weren't the whole reason for the Giants inept offense. Beckham was swarmed every time he caught a short ball off Manning and had nowhere to run. His athletic ability wasn't enough to overcome the flurry of defenders running his way and this caused visible frustration. Beckham hauled in slants, curls and drag routes over the middle but could not shake free for a big run after the catch. He had a nice explosive play down the middle on a slant route but this was in 'garbage' time really as the Saints were in a prevent defense. The Giants need to use Beckham down the field more often and show defenses they aren't afraid to go deep, their game plan vs the Saints did not work at all.

TE Rhett Ellison, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (5 targets)
Rhett Ellison is a poor replacement for Evan Engram and this was evident on Sunday. He has the awareness and hands for the position but doesn't have the talent to get open like Engram. Manning almost found him the endzone in the second half but the pass was broken up with perfect timing from the Saints defense. He is not worth rostering at this point.