Game Predictions & Player Projections - NO vs. ARI

Game Predictions & Player Projections - NO vs. ARI


Game Predictions & Player Projections - NO vs. ARI

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Prediction: NO 17, ARI 20 (Line: ARI by 2.5)

Update: C.J. Spiller will miss at least this week and be replaced by either Khiry Robinson or Marcus Murphy or both. I will project for Robinson though Murphy has drawn favorable reviews lately so a little risk assuming Robinson gets all the third down action. Michael Floyd will be a game time decision but has not been ruled out. I am not adding him to the projections from the risk he presents. He still has not had a full practice but may suit up.

Injury Report::
Wednesday –
(Did Not Practice) C.J. Spiller. Limited – Michael Floyd, Jermaine Gresham

Thursday – (Did Not Practice) C.J. Spiller. Limited – Michael Floyd, Jermaine Gresham
Friday – (Did Not Practice) C.J. Spiller. (Limited) – Michael Floyd, Jermaine Gresham

The Saints were 7-9 last year with a 4-4 road record. The Cardinals were 11-5 and 7-1 at home. The Saints brought in C.J. Spiller and and sent Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks but otherwise this is all the same offense and coaches. The Cardinals only change is drafting running back David Johnson and bringing in Chris Johnson so he could read the playbook in the trainer’s room. The biggest characteristic of this game is that the Cardinals rarely lose at home and for this one moment in time, they are healthy. Except for Michael Floyd.

New Orleans Saints

1 @ARI —— 10 @WAS ——
2 TB —— 11 BYE ——
3 @CAR —— 12 @HOU ——
4 DAL —— 13 CAR ——
5 @PHI —— 14 @TB ——
6 ATL —— 15 DET ——
7 @IND —— 16 JAC ——
8 NYG —— 17 @ATL ——
9 TEN ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
NO @ ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 280,2
RB Mark Ingram 50 2-10
WR Brandon Coleman 4-60,1
WR Brandin Cooks 6-70
TE Coby Fleener 2-30
TE Josh Hill 4-10
PK Kai Forbath 2 FG 2 XP
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The trade that rocked the offseason was sending Jimmy Graham to Seattle and doing nothing to replace his catches other than acquiring C.J. Spiller. With no moves at tight end, this is going to be a very different team for 2014. The Saints already rank above average for rushing and were #1 in running back passes for the last two years. But the plan is to rush even more. At least until the games begin and the Saints need to catch up.

The Saints are rolling with Zach Hocker at kicker, at least until they have a chance to kick the tires on any veterans who may have been released.

QUARTERBACK : Drew Brees‘ phenomenal streak of three straight 5000 yard seasons was broken in 2014 but only by 48 yards. He tied with Ben Roethlisberger for the most passing yards. Graham was the most targeted last year (125) but that production can move elsewhere. Remember that Graham did not have a catch in two games last year and yet Brees threw for seven touchdowns over those two weeks. Brees will be just fine.

RUNNING BACK : Mark Ingram finally showed up after three mediocre seasons when he ran for 964 yards and nine scores on 226 carries in 2014. That secured him a primary role again this year and helps to erase the three disappointing seasons that he started out his career. Pierre Thomas is gone and he caught 45 passes last year and 77 the previous season. C.J. Spiller is there to take his place and hopefully compensate for the loss of Graham partially. Ingram has expressed a desire to be used more as a receiver as well. The rookie Marcus Murphy has also been mentioned as a possible contributor in the backfield, particularly if injuries sideline a starter.

Spiller underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in August and missed most of the preseason. He is still expected to play in week one but there will be an update if that changes with the injury report. Spiller and Ingram could make a formidable tandem if Spiller can only remain healthy. In his last 16 game season in Buffalo, Spiller turned in 1703 total yards and eight scores.

WIDE RECEIVER : This is where the Saints are going to be just fine. Marques Colston shows up for his tenth season and he remains good for 900 or so yards per season and a handful of touchdowns at least. Perhaps more this year. But the excitement is around Brandon Cooks who was enjoying a good rookie season before missing the final six weeks with a thumb injury. He’s in a nice spot for a breakout season and will be the primary receiver. The Saints also have a 6-6 undrafted wideout in Brandon Coleman who is challenging for the #3 role and brings a new dimension to the offense.

An undrafted rookie wideout having any value is exceedingly rare. Sort of like any wideout drafted the seventh round. Like Marques Colston.

TIGHT END : And so concludes the fantasy value of a Saints tight end. All that is left behind is Benjamin Watson who is a 35 year old blocker and Josh Hill who will never remind anyone of Jimmy Graham no matter what your trading partner is trying to tell you. Watson is the starter.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals are outstanding against the run every year, especially at home so this will be a down game for Ingram. Cooks naturally lines up across Patrick Peterson though the Saints will likely move him around for that express reason and Peterson generally stays on his side. Brees should still be good for a couple of passing scores here as most decent opponents scored against the Cardinals last year. First game out, Brees and Cooks are must starts every week. Colston and Coleman are moderate to risky. The wildcard here is Spiller but we haven’t been able to see him even in the preseason to help speculate. If healthy, he is worth a start but is a risky play this early in the season. The Cardinals never allowed any running back to have a big game as a receiver last year but they did not face many who would normally catch the ball much.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 3 16 3 27 28
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 25 2 18 28 9 4

Arizona Cardinals

1 NO —— 10 @SEA ——
2 @CHI —— 11 CIN ——
3 SF —— 12 @SF ——
4 STL —— 13 @STL ——
5 @DET —— 14 MIN ——
6 @PIT —— 15 @PHI ——
7 BAL —— 16 GB ——
8 @CLE —— 17 SEA ——
9 BYE ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 260,2
RB Andre Ellington 60 3-20
RB Chris Johnson 20
RB David Johnson 30 3-30
WR John Brown 5-80,1
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-70,1
TE Darren Fells 2-10
PK Chandler Catanzaro 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals defense saved the team last year after Carson Palmer was injured and Andre Ellington hardly played healthy all season. But along the way they discovered a gem in John Brown. The team made no moves on the offense aside from bringing in David Johnson to help the running backs and once everyone was injured, they brought in Chris Johnson who promptly hurt his hamstring. Michael Floyd injured his hand in the offseason and is questionable here. This is a good offense if everyone can only get healthy and stay that way.

QUARTERBACK : Carson Palmer is one of the senior quarterbacks at 36 years old but he was solid in 2013 when he started out with the Cardinals and threw for 4274 yards and 24 scores. He was limited to only six games in 2014 because of his knee injury. The upside here is that he has a formidable set of wideouts.

RUNNING BACK : Andre Ellington’s big chance to be the primary back fizzled last year when he was beset with foot and hip injuries that cut his year four games short. He ended with just 660 yards and a 3.3 yard rushing average. The Cardinals tabbed the versatile David Johnson in the third round of the draft as a complement to Ellington. Johnson looked sharp in his preseason debut but then was less impressive in the third game.

Chris Johnson was added to the crew but suffered a hamstring strain and missed most of camp. Week one will be the first time we see all the running backs and know what the plan is. Until then this is just a committee that likely will only offer marginal fantasy value until one clearly takes a bigger load than the rest. Johnson ran surprisingly well in the fourth preseason game though it was against mostly third teamers.

WIDE RECEIVER : Michael Floyd had a gruesome dislocation of his fingers and the team has been optimistic about his chances of playing in Week one. Floyd already had a 1000 yard season in 2013 when Carson Palmer was healthy but he slid back in 2014 along with all the other receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is 32 and comes off the worst season in his 12 year career. But again – Palmer was mostly out and Fitzgerald posted 82-954-10 when Palmer was there just two seasons ago.

John Brown was a third round pick last year and turned in a promising year that ended with 48-696-5. He’s slightly undersized but added 10 pounds in the offseason to help. He’ll fill in for Floyd if needed and play the slot otherwise. I will assume that Floyd cannot play and update as warranted.

This unit disappointed last season but their production revolves around the health of Palmer.

TIGHT END : Jermaine Gresham will be the starting tight end once he recovers from his hamstring strain. Until then, Darren Fells will take his place as one of the least used tight ends in the NFL. The Cardinals only threw one touchdown to their tight ends last year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Saints defense took a major step backwards last year and were one of the worst teams against both the run and pass. CB Brandon Browner was brought in to help and he’ll match up with Larry Fitzgerald. Ellington is a moderate start here since the committee approach is not yet known and the Saints are still going to be below average versus the run on the road. Palmer and John Brown are reasonable starts assuming that Floyd is unable to play. Fitzgerald is still worth considering as a low-end starting wideout since he is at home and Palmer is playing. There is still too much undecided in this first game of the year to be that confident outside of Palmer and maybe Ellington.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 25 24 14 27 18 6
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 28 29 26 4 28 17

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