Here is your week 4 Monday Night Football preview! This week the Miami Dolphins head to the Big Easy to face off against the New Orleans Saints in a battle of two 3-0 teams. Both teams may be undefeated, but in my opinion the Saints might as well be an early 1990’s tuna company, because the Dolphins are simply not safe. I think Brees will expose holes in Miami’s defense and keep the ball out of Tannehill’s hands for most of this contest. I see the Saints taking this one by at least two scores. Here’s my breakdown of positions and their fantasy impact for week 4.
QUARTERBACKS: Drew Brees is the Monday Night King. He has won 8 of them in a row with an unreal 24/5 touchdown to interception ratio. He is primed for another big night this Monday against Miami at home. The Dolphins’ defense ranks 22nd in the NFL in points allowed per game. Brees and the impact players on the Saints offense can certainly turn those yards allowed into points better than other teams. I see Drew having a typical Brees Monday this week.
Ryan Tannehill has been very successful in his last 2 road games so the intimidation of the Superdome may not affect him as it does other quarterbacks. Also, Tannehill is doing it during crunch time, as he sits 8th in the NFL with a fourth quarter QB rating of 105. With that said, he faces a tough challenge Monday against Rob Ryan’s defense. The Saints are top 5 in points and yards allowed per game so he certainly has his work cut out for him. Tannehill although leading the Dolphins to 3-0 so far, is not a fantasy starting QB this week, even if your starter has a bye (Aaron Rodgers). There are better matchup options to look to this week in the QB department, like EJ Manuel who is only owned in 19% of Yahoo! Leagues.
RUNNINGBACKS: Darren Sproles is a PPR dream at running back and a must start on all standard rosters. He is the Saints lead running back and already has sixteen receptions on the season. To compliment him, with Mark Ingram out and falling out of favor with Sean Payton (and fantasy owners), the door opens for Pierre Thomas. Thomas is a solid player to hold on your roster going forward, and should be played in week 4 against Miami. With Ingram out, Thomas should deliver a solid point total after his carries and catches. PPR owners should feel good about him in their FLEX spot this week.
Miami’s running situation does not bode well for fantasy owners of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Both are heading into New Orleans as a split timeshare, which means their values are diminished and unpredictable. It is impossible to start either one at FLEX, let alone as a running back. No play here.
RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: New Orleans: Jimmy Graham, period. No but seriously, the dude is outscoring quarterbacks through three weeks. He is averaging 120 yards per game and over a touchdown per game. He is a fantasy beast. Marques Colston is a solid play at wide receiver. His value and targets get a boost once defenses get sick of seeing Jimmy Graham treat them like pee wee teams and switch coverage.
For Miami, Mike Wallace may be past his groin issues and should have a decent week. I don’t expect big numbers here though, as I still contend the Saints will control the ball for most of this game. Brian Hartline, with two touchdowns on the season, has more than he had last year. If he remains a red zone target for Tannehill he will develop into a legitimate fantasy receiver, but there are no guarantees here. He is still owned in only 74% of Yahoo! Leagues so maybe take a flyer for a bench spot if you are hurting for receivers. Tight end Charles Clay is a solid player, but he is a back end tight end in fantasy. Tannehill seems to like using him, and he has caught 14 of his 17 targets. Replacing Dustin Keller, Clay could emerge as a legitimate fantasy tight end, but I’m not sold yet.
DEFENSE: New Orleans’ defense has become a strength for the first time in a long time for the Saints under new coordinator Rob Ryan. They are fifth in the NFL in points allowed per game and fourth in yards per game. They aren’t turnover kings, but this defense affords Brees a lot to work with in how he manages his offensive attack. They haven’t racked up major fantasy points due to their turnover numbers, but this is a good defense and fantasy owners are starting to buy in.
Miami’s defense is ranked 22nd in the NFL in yards allowed per game, and that’s the last thing you want to be when you face Drew Brees. All that guy does is put up major yards. I can see Brees blowing past 400 yards easily in this one. The Dolphins’ defense is just simply not a fantasy defense for week 4.
The Bottom Line: I think Saints will win this game by at least two scores. Something like a 30-17 sounds reasonable. Brees and that offense are just too good at home, and I don’t see the Dolphins going punch for punch with them. Brees, Graham, Sproles, and Colston will help fantasy teams get the job done, while Miami players will leave much to be desired. The Saints will win BIG and EASY in New Orleans Monday night. I guess it’s not just a clever name then.