We are only one game into the 2010 regular season and already fantasy football owners are hemming and hawing about Adrian Peterson’s carries, Brett Favre’s accuracy, and Drew Brees having the nerve to only throw one touchdown pass.
Thursday night’s Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints season kickoff was not the high-scoring, fantasy pointfest millions of people across the country were counting on. Maybe both offenses are still working out kinks still held over from the preseason. Or maybe both defenses played exceptionally well.
Fantasy owners should have learned a few things by sitting through New Orleans’ 14-9 win in its entirety. Here are three things that should have stood out to fantasy owners.
Brett Favre might have a tough first half of the season
Favre did not look right on Opening Night, and it was not because he did not get much game action during the preseason, because he is a year closer to 50, or because he was annoyed by Dave Matthews’ version of “Burning Down The House.”
Favre looked indecisive and off-target all game because favorite target Sidney Rice was not around. Percy Harvin is not a No. 1 receiver. Bernard Berrian has no trouble being Chad Ochocinco’s wingman, but he has not been able to break away from a corner since 2008. And Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis are veterans who can grab the occasional key third-down pass but combined cannot rack up the yards Rice could get by himself.
Favre was only 15-for-27 for 171 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Is his ankle bothering him? Probably. Might he need another game or two to shake off some rust and gray hairs? Sure.
But the lack of a go-to-guy who can catch alley oops in double coverage and errant throws that would go over the normal man’s head is what Favre is missing most, and since Rice is not scheduled back for a while, Favre could have more of these types of games.
The one receiver whose fantasy value is heading in the right direction is tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. He caught four balls for 76 yards and a touchdown and was the one guy Favre had good chemistry with during the game. Look for Favre to focus on him more and more until Rice returns, although that could eventually force defenses to double cover No. 81 and limit his yardage.
Adrian Peterson No Longer Has to Share
Peterson has been one of the top players to own in fantasy football since entering the NFL two years ago, but he could have even been better if Chester Taylor was not around hamstringing his value by swiping some of his rushing attempts and receptions. But Taylor is now a thorn in Matt Forte’s fantasy worth in Chicago, so Peterson is free and clear to touch the ball more often than ever.
A.P. was called upon over and over again during the second quarter when he barreled down the field on a drive lasting 9:25, rushing seven times and catching one pass. But before and after that drive he was as invisible as Casper the Friendly Ghost.
His 19 rushes for 87 yards and three catches for an additional 14 yards, along with zero touchdowns, made Peterson’s owners about as happy as Albert Haynesworth is when he is asked to practice.
There are only two people who can stand in Peterson’s way of 25 to 30 touches per game. One is rookie Toby Gerhart, who was injured and missed the Saints contest. He could turn out to be a good foil for Peterson and become a backup who spells A.P. for 10 to 12 plays per game. But Gerhart’s knee injury could keep him out another game or two, and he might not really be a factor offensively for several weeks.
The other is head coach Brad Childress, who conspired with Favre (and the Vikings defense) to shut out Peterson down the stretch in the fourth quarter of the Saints debacle. There was no reason to abandon the run with Minnesota only down one score, yet Childress failed to call Peterson’s number once on either fourth-quarter drive.
Peterson should be getting 20-plus carries and four-to-five receptions per game without Taylor on the team. If that happens, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson might not be fantasy football’s top player at season’s end like most pundits predicted.
New Orleans’ cornerbacks are legit
New Orleans plays a style of pass defense not much different to what Rex Ryan’s New York Jets does. The Saints blitz from all areas on most passing downs, and they do it because they have one of the most underrated cornerback tandems in the NFL.
Super Bowl hero Tracy Porter and veteran Jabari Greer have a tough time staying on the field together—each missed multiple games in 2009—but they have an easier time locking up opposing receivers in man-to-man coverage. And this tag team put a hurting on Minnesota’s receivers that the Fabulous Freebirds would have been proud of.
This dynamic duo held greyhound Harvin to just one catch for 12 yards and Berrian to only one catch for three yards. In fact, no Minnesota wideout caught more than one pass. Room to roam in the secondary was harder to find than Jennifer Aniston hit movies.
With Porter and Greer able to play one-on-one on the outside, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can afford to send extra linebackers, safeties, and waterboys at quarterbacks. If Porter and Greer can stay on the field together for close to 16 games, the Saints will have one of the better defenses to have in fantasy football