Guest of the League
OLD LEAGUE DO NOT USE Est. 2018
One and Done - FFL: Week 1 | NFL: Week 12

Payton re-evaluating all aspects of Saints' stagnant offense

Fri Nov 26 6:18pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer

Related photo caption below

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in New Orleans, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)


Related photo caption below

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reads his chart in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in New Orleans, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)


Related photo caption below

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) defends a pass against New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


Related photo caption below

New Orleans Saints running back Tony Jones (34) carries against Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Addison in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)


NEW ORLEANS (AP) When Saints coach Sean Payton was asked about his team's inability to convert any of the five 2-point tries attempted this season, his response spoke to a more overarching issue for New Orleans' offense.

''If you're a pretty good offensive team, it's probably not a problem,'' Payton said. ''If you're not a good offensive team, which is what I would say that's where we are at right now, it probably is a problem.''

Payton added that during a 31-6 loss to Buffalo on Thursday night, gaining ''2 yards on a handful of downs tonight were a struggle.''

New Orleans, which has won four straight NFC South titles, has now lost four straight games for the first time since the 2015 season. The Saints missed the playoffs that year and are in danger of falling out of the NFC playoff race this season if they don't soon figure out how to move the ball with regularity.

Getting their top offensive player back would certainly help. Dynamic running back Alvin Kamara has missed three straight games. Without him, their losses have become more lopsided each week.

When Kamara was healthy, and now injured Jameis Winston was starting at quarterback, the Saints (5-6) appeared to more easily overcome injuries. They started 5-2 and looked poised for another playoff run.

Taysom Hill, who served as Drew Brees' primary backup last season, was coming off a concussion when Winston went out of the season with a knee injury against Tampa Bay on Oct. 31. Trevor Siemian took over in that game and helped the Saints rally for a victory, but is 0-4 as a starter.

Hill is active again, although he's been limited lately by a foot injury. But Hill, a powerful runner who is experienced at executing the read-option, just might get another chance to start soon.

The Saints need to do something different, as Payton conceded after the Bills loss.

''We'll see,'' Payton said. ''We'll look at everything right now. Obviously, we have to.''

WHAT'S WORKING

The Saints continue to be stout against conventional running plays in which the quarterback hands off. While Buffalo had 113 net yards rushing, 43 of those yards came on scrambles or designed runs by Allen.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The offense struggled to run, throw and score against the Bills. Difficulty gaining yards in early downs with the run or pass put the Saints in numerous third-and-long situations. New Orleans converted just 5 of 14 third downs - and didn't convert one until after the Saints trailed 24-0 in the third quarter.

''When you come off the field on third down, three-and-outs, you don't get anything going,'' Saints center Erik McCoy said. ''You don't get the run game going. Nobody's getting their touches, and it's just hard.''

STOCK UP

Tight end Nick Vannett scored the Saints' lone touchdown against Buffalo on an 11-yard reception in what was his first game as New Orleans' No. 1 tight end. Vannett returned from a preseason injury last week and was thrust into a larger role this week because of an injury to fellow tight end Adam Trautman.

STOCK DOWN

Running back Tony Jones Jr., who has recently been activated from injury reserve and made the team with a strong preseason, struggled in his first chance to serve as the Saints' primary running back - albeit behind a banged-up offensive line. Jones gained 27 yards on 16 carries for an average of 1.7 yards per carry.

INJURED

Linebacker Kaden Ellis left the game with a hamstring injury and rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo was helped to the sideline after a heavy collision in the fourth quarter. Starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (knee) has missed two straight games. Defensive end Marcus Davenport (shoulder) was held out against Buffalo. Reserve defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle), who had four sacks this season before he went out, has missed three straight games.

KEY NUMBER

13 - number of first-half points the Saints have scored in their past four games combined, a stint that includes four straight scoreless first quarters.

''It just feels hard,'' Siemian said. ''We're just not getting anything going early in games.''

NEXT STEPS

The Saints host the Dallas Cowboys in another Thursday night game next week before going on the road for two straight against the New York Jets on Dec. 12 and Tampa Bay on Dec. 19

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 12

Player Notes
Jonnu Smith Nov 26 6:20pm ET
Jonnu Smith

New England Patriots tight ends Hunter Henry (neck) and Jonnu Smith (shoulder) were both limited in practice all week and are questionable for the Week 12 date against the Tennessee Titans. Barring setbacks, we'd expect both Henry and Smith to be active on Sunday against a Titans defense that has allowed just 356 receiving yards and three touchdowns to tight ends all season. Henry and Smith combined for only three catches for 42 yards on five targets in last Thursday's blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons. Henry has been the much better fantasy option this year with 11 more receptions and six more touchdowns than Smith on seven more targets. Henry will be the better target as a touchdown-dependent, low-end TE1 as long as both players are active.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Hurts Nov 26 6:20pm ET
Jalen Hurts

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has had plenty of issues on the field this season, but he's still been a fantasy QB1 10 times this season while no other quarterback has made that list more than seven times. For those who value consistency in their signal caller, there's an argument to be made for Hurts being the top fantasy quarterback so far. Week 12 sees the Eagles take on the New York Giants, who have actually done well against opposing quarterbacks this year. Still, the Eagles shouldn't have too hard of a time moving the ball, and with Hurts operating as the team's top running back, it's easy to see him finishing with yet another QB1 week. He's a top-six option for Week 12 fantasy lineups.

From RotoBaller

Damien Harris Nov 26 6:10pm ET
Damien Harris

New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (neck) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable for the Week 12 matchup against the Tennessee Titans. Harris returned from a concussion last week but only saw 10 carries for 56 yards and caught one pass for nine yards while sharing more of the work with impressive rookie Rhamondre Stevenson (knee) in the blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons. Both Harris and Stevenson are questionable this weekend, but Patriots players listed as questionable usually tend to suit up on Sundays. Assuming both backs play this weekend, Harris' fantasy stock has fallen slightly with the emergence of Stevenson, and he'll be more of a low-end RB2/flex against Tennessee.

From RotoBaller

Rhamondre Stevenson Nov 26 6:10pm ET
Rhamondre Stevenson

New England Patriots rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson (knee) popped up on the injury report on Thursday and has been limited in practice the last two days. He is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans. Stevenson and Damien Harris (neck) are both questionable, but the fact that they were both limited in practice for multiple days suggests that they'll be able to play this Sunday. Harris played only three more offensive snaps than Stevenson in last week's blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons, but Stevenson had 13 touches for 75 yards compared to Harris' 11 touches for 65 yards. Stevenson's emergence in New England's backfield has made Harris more of a low-end RB2 heading into Week 12 action.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Nov 26 6:00pm ET
Tony Pollard

The Dallas Cowboys defense wasn't at its best in a 36-33 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving Day. They allowed 36 points and only recorded three sacks. They were unable to secure any turnovers for only the third time all season. In leagues that count kick returns, a Tony Pollard 100-yard touchdown helped with some points, but in defense-only leagues, this was a rough outing for an otherwise strong fantasy defense.

From RotoBaller

Greg Zuerlein Nov 26 5:50pm ET
Greg Zuerlein

Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein missed two kicks in a Thanksgiving loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Zuerlein attempted three field goals and two extra points, missing one of each type of kick. His made field goals came from 29 and 45 yards out, while his miss came from 59. His 45-yard kick was a clutch one that tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter though, so Dallas fans can't be too upset at him for missing the longer kick earlier.

From RotoBaller

Noah Brown Nov 26 5:40pm ET
Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown was targeted nine times in a Week 12 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Brown caught six of those passes for 53 yards. With Amari Cooper (COVID-19) and CeeDee Lamb (concussion) both out, Brown ended up second on the team in targets, only one behind team leader Cedrick Wilson. It was a solid performance from a wide receiver much more commonly used for his blocking ability in the run game. With Cooper and Lamb expected back for Week 13, Brown will likely make his way back to fantasy irrelevance.

From RotoBaller

Dalton Schultz Nov 26 5:40pm ET
Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz scored a touchdown in a Thanksgiving loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Schultz was targeted seven times but only made three catches, gaining 46 yards. His score came on a 32-yard strike in the fourth quarter from quarterback Dak Prescott that tied the game at 30. Schultz had a pair of disappointing games a few weeks ago, but he's back to TE1 status and should continue even with the Cowboys getting healthier in their receiving corps next week.

From RotoBaller

Michael Gallup Nov 26 5:30pm ET
Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup led the Cowboys with 106 receiving yards in a Week 12 Thanksgiving loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. He was targeted eight times, making five catches. He finished third on the team in targets, with Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown seeing more passes thrown their way. Gallup has the talent to go up against an opposing team's top defensive backs, but when Amari Cooper (COVID-19) and CeeDee Lamb (concussion) return, Gallup will be back to third on the receiver depth chart.

From RotoBaller

Cedrick Wilson Nov 26 5:20pm ET
Cedrick Wilson

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (ankle) caught seven passes in a Week 12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, gaining 104 yards. He was targeted 10 times, setting team highs in targets and catches and falling two yards shy of the team lead in yards. Wilson missed a few snaps with an ankle injury, but was able to return and should be fine for another Thursday game in Week 13. His role will be diminished though, as Amari Cooper (COVID-19) and CeeDee Lamb (concussion) are both expected to be back on the field.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Nov 26 5:10pm ET
Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard looked great in a Thanksgiving overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. With starter Ezekiel Elliott (knee) looking less than 100% throughout the game, Pollard had his first game of the season where he ended up with more touches than Elliott. Pollard ran the ball 10 times for 36 yards and added four catches for 32 more yards on four targets. Most impressively, Pollard worked a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown in the third quarter. With the Cowboys saying they may begin managing Elliott's snaps to some extent, Pollard's fantasy arrow is pointing almost straight up.

From RotoBaller

JaMycal Hasty Nov 26 5:00pm ET
JaMycal Hasty

San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (ankle) has been ruled out for the Week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Hasty suffered an ankle injury in Week 9 and hasn't practiced or played since. Rookie Elijah Mitchell (finger, rib), who is questionable for this weekend, is closer to a return and would likely take over the lead-back role from Jeff Wilson Jr. if he's active. Hasty has only 13 rushing attempts for 48 yards and one touchdown (3.7 yards per carry) in the five games he's played in, and when this entire backfield is healthy, he's probably third on the depth chart behind Mitchell and Wilson. He's only worth hanging onto in really deep leagues or dynasty/keeper formats.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Nov 26 5:00pm ET
Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott played well in a Week 12 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders despite missing his top two receiving threats. With Amari Cooper (COVID-19) and CeeDee Lamb (concussion) both ruled out, Prescott was still able to complete 32 of his 47 pass attempts for 375 yards and two touchdowns. Dak's first touchdown was a 10-yard pass to Sean McKeon and his second came on a 32-yard strike to Dalton Schultz. It was an impressive performance from Prescott despite a costly overthrow in overtime that led to a game-winning field goal for the Raiders.

From RotoBaller

James Robinson Nov 26 5:00pm ET
James Robinson

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (heel, knee) was able to practice in full on Friday and was removed from the final Week 12 injury report against the Atlanta Falcons. Robinson missed the Week 9 game, but he's played the last two weeks and looks to be moving past his heel injury. The 23-year-old is the clear leader of this backfield, when healthy, ahead of veteran Carlos Hyde. Robinson has seen double-digit carries in all but two games played this season and has found the end zone on the ground in all but three games in 2021. He rushed for only 29 yards on 12 attempts last week, but he should have more room to run this Sunday against a Falcons defense that has allowed 123.3 rushing yards per game this year. Robinson is a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Qadree Ollison Nov 26 4:50pm ET
Qadree Ollison

Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison (illness), who is on the team's practice squad, has missed practice all week with a non-COVID-19-related illness and isn't expected to play in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ollison was elevated to the active roster last week with Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) out against the New England Patriots, and he played a team-high 48% of the offensive snaps while carrying the ball nine times for 34 yards and catching two of three targets for zero yards in his first action of the 2021 season. If Patterson doesn't return (he's listed as questionable) this Sunday against the Jaguars, Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman would form an underwhelming RB duo for the Falcons.

From RotoBaller

Trevor Lawrence Nov 26 4:50pm ET
Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is a very risky streaming option at home against the Falcons in Week 12. The rookie's struggles to date (12.5 fantasy points per game) are juxtaposed with an alluring matchup this week, as Atlanta has allowed the sixth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Fantasy managers seeking upside should be open to starting Lawrence, as there's a chance that the rookie thrives as both a passer and a rusher in the soft matchup, but those looking for a safer play should look elsewhere in Week 12 due to Lawrence's general struggles and inconsistency in 2021.

From RotoBaller

Elijah Mitchell Nov 26 4:50pm ET
Elijah Mitchell

San Francisco 49ers rookie running back Elijah Mitchell (finger, rib) is being listed as questionable for the Week 12 contest against the Minnesota Vikings. Mitchell is also dealing with a rib injury, but the surgically repaired finger that kept him out of Week 11 action is the bigger concern. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that Mitchell will play this weekend if he's comfortable with how his finger is protected. If the 23-year-old is active, he should return to lead-back duties and be an RB2 for fantasy managers, although he could be involved less in the passing game because of his injured finger. JaMycal Hasty (ankle) will miss another game, so Jeff Wilson Jr. would be Mitchell's primary change-of-pace back if he's active.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Nov 26 4:40pm ET
Chris Godwin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers Mike Evans (back) and Chris Godwin (foot) were both taken off the final injury report for Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts. Evans' status for Sunday's game was in question after he missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday, but he returned to a full practice on Friday and is good to go against the Colts. Antonio Brown (ankle) remains out of action, so Evans and Godwin should continue to be targeted heavily in Tampa's pass-happy offense. Through 11 weeks of the 2021 season, Evans is the WR6 in fantasy with 679 receiving yards and a league-high 10 touchdowns, while Godwin is the WR10 with 782 receiving yards and five scores. They will both be must-starts this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Laviska Shenault Jr. Nov 26 4:40pm ET
Laviska Shenault Jr.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. is a very intriguing Week 12 play at home against the Atlanta Falcons. It's been a brutal campaign for the second year pro to date, as he's averaging just 8.2 PPR points per game to date in 2021, but there's reason to believe in a bounceback. In wake of Jamal Agnew's season ending hip injury last week, Shenault should move back into the slot where he's at his best. Shenault is more quick than he is fast and his strength plays up against smaller slot corners, so he has a real chance to turn things around starting this week. Bottom line, Shenault is a speculative, but very intriguing high-end WR4 against a very mediocre Falcons secondary in Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Cordarrelle Patterson Nov 26 4:40pm ET
Cordarrelle Patterson

Atlanta Falcons running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) was limited in practice all week and is questionable for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Patterson missed last Thursday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons but looks to be closer to returning this weekend. Qadree Ollison, who surprisingly led the backfield last week, is not expected to play, so Patterson should see the majority of touches in this backfield alongside Mike Davis if he returns against Jacksonville. The 30-year-old Patterson is the team's top playmaker as long as receiver Calvin Ridley is away for personal reasons. Patterson will return to being an RB2 if he's active, but he's more useful in PPR leagues with his 39 catches for 473 yards and five touchdowns through the air in nine games.

From RotoBaller