Tue Aug 20 5:40pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, center, throws a pass over Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram, left, during a joint NFL football practice in Costa Mesa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drew Brees sees discussions about his arm strength and recently declining passing yardage as moot points.
Efficiency is what wins, the 40-year-old, record-setting Saints quarterback says - and that will be a driving factor in determining his longevity.
''I can't throw the ball 70 yards like some guys can. But last time I checked, I don't really need to throw 70 yards in order to be effective and win games. So I'm not worried about it,'' Brees told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Brees said being able to throw as deep as any NFL QB ''would be a nice luxury, but I don't need to.''
While Brees is in the last season of his contract - and said he has no plans to discuss a possible extension until after this season - he is less than a year removed from capping off possibly the most efficient campaign of his previous 18 NFL seasons.
He broke his own completion percentage rate for a single season in 2018, connecting on 74.4 percent of his passes. He also passed for 32 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions, the second best such ratio in the league.
Meanwhile, the Saints nearly went to last season's Super Bowl - and very well might have if not for league-acknowledged officiating mistakes near the end of regulation in the NFC title game. (Missed pass interference and helmet-to-helmet contact penalties committed by a Los Angeles Rams defender were seen as egregious enough to spark a rule change making such plays subject to video review ).
At the same time, Brees' 3,992 yards passing, which ranked 13th in the NFL, represented his lowest single-season passing total since he joined the Saints in 2006. Brees points out that he sat out the last game of last season, with New Orleans having already clinched the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed - meaning he likely would have wound up with more than 4,200 yards, based on his per-game average of 266 yards passing.
''That's still probably low, according to our standard,'' Brees conceded, but added, ''To me, the yardage is kind of inconsequential. It's all about the efficiency of the passing game and running game and how they complement each other.''
In addition to playing football, Brees is a father of four who gets involved in his children's activities and also has ever-growing business interests.
He owns nine Jimmy Johns sandwich shops in the New Orleans area, and spoke to AP while promoting a nationwide ''Home in the Zone'' contest that will provide money to help the winner acquire a home in one of the restaurant's delivery zones.
Brees, the all-time NFL leader in completions (6,586) and yards passing (74,437) , doesn't specify how much longer he intends to keep playing, but there is an active precedent. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is still playing at 42 and was 41 when he won last season's Super Bowl.
Brees' 520 TD passes puts him one ahead of Brady and leaves him 19 short of Peyton Manning's record of 539 - a mark Brees should break this season if he plays anywhere nearly as well as a year ago.
''I feel like I've got the right people in my corner ... so I feel like I'm getting the best information when it comes to how to prolong my career as long as possible,'' Brees said. ''Most retired players that you talk to, especially quarterbacks, I think the consensus is: Play as long as you can, enjoy it as long as you can. It's nothing earth-shattering.''
Entering this season, the departure of running back Mark Ingram during free agency and the arrival of veteran receiving tight end Jared Cook begs the question of whether there might be an uptick in passing.
Since joining the Saints, Brees has averaged nearly 303 yards passing per game and has passed for at least 5,000 yards in a season five times.
Yet three times, the Saints have missed the playoffs when Brees passed for 5,000-plus yards in a season; he had to throw more in those years (2008, `12 and `16) because the Saints were often behind. So while Brees still sees potential for big games through the air, he doesn't concern himself with whether that might happen.
''From week to week, it might be a little bit higher or lower, depending on what's needed,'' Brees said. ''Whether that's a lot of running, a lot of passing, a combination of both - I think at the end of the day, you want to be balanced. That's when you're most effective because it keeps defenses off balance, spreads the wealth, gives them a lot to worry about, gives you a lot of ways to win from week to week.''
In Week 1, Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines caught all four of his targets for just four yards. He also added four carries for 13 yards. In Week 2, he's nothing more than a dart throw in very deep leagues. During his rookie season, Hines' value came from his volume in the passing game with an average of 3.9 receptions per game. Against the Tennessee Titans this week, the outlook is not the brightest for him. The Titans allowed just four receptions to Cleveland Browns running backs for 24 yards. Unless you're playing in an ultra-deep league, you're avoiding Hines until he sees an uptick in his workload.
Seattle Seahawks S Lano Hill likely will start at safety in Week 2 if S Tedric Thompson (hamstring) is not able to play.
Minnesota Vikings LB Ben Gedeon (groin) is not expected to play in Week 2 because of his groin injury, according to a source.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon only played two offensive snaps in the Bills' opening game against the Jets in Week 1 and there's little reason to believe that will change much in Week 2. He's the clear third-string running back in a rushing offense that's yet to get going. Veteran Frank Gore is the current starter and rookie Devin Singletary is the second-stringer who could be taking more and more of the load off of Gore in coming weeks. Yeldon is on the outside looking in and should remain on waivers in all fantasy leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Zay Jones caught two passes for 18 yards in Week 1. He was targeted four times in the game. He's the team's No. 2 receiver on paper, but slot receiver Cole Beasley will be soaking up many of the targets that would be going to a No. 2 receiver in most offenses, relegating Jones to minimal targets for the foreseeable future. Jones could end up scoring half-a-dozen touchdowns on the year, but when they'll occur will be extremely tough to predict and he's unlikely to put up solid catch and yardage totals as long as Beasley and John Brown are healthy and productive. Jones can be left on waiver wires until further notice.
New York Jets LB Neville Hewitt is expected to start at inside linebacker in Week 2 since LB C.J. Mosley (groin) has been ruled out.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) is questionable to play on Monday night against the Browns in Week 2. Thomas hasn't practiced all week and is probably on the wrong side of questionable for this one. Quincy Enunwa's season-ending injury is good news for Thomas having a role with Gang Green this year, but fantasy owners must wait and see if Thomas develops as a pass-catching threat. He'll have to prove that he's healthy first behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. Even if DT plays on Monday, he's not a fantasy option with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. Josh Bellamy could see more of a role in three-receiver sets if Thomas is inactive, but he's not on the fantasy map.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is expected to play in Sunday's matchup against the Arizona Cardinals despite being held out of practice Friday with a foot injury. Andrews caught all eight of his targets in Week 1 against Miami for 108 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three of quarterback Lamar Jackson's five third-down completions, which boosts his potential of becoming Jackson's "security blanket" going forward. The growing chemistry between these two will prove to be a nice bonus for your fantasy lineups as the season progresses. It is safe to start Andrews against a Cardinals Defense that allowed rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson to rack up 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert was able to make it through Week 1 without injury while registering a modest five-catch, 27-yard performance. Although fellow tight end CJ Uzomah played more snaps (70.67%) than Eifert (49.33%) in Week 1, Eifert participated in a greater percentage of the Bengals passing routes, meaning Uzomah is being asked to block more than Eifert on passing plays. That being said, Eifert has a four-inch height advantage over San Francisco 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore, which bodes well for his chances of catching a touchdown when the Bengals have the ball in the red zone. Eifert should be considered an extremely touchdown-dependent TE2 in 12-team leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd had the second-most targets (11) for the Bengals in Week 1, but he should lead the Bengals in that department this week. In Week 2, wide receiver John Ross should line up against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman for roughly 50 percent of his routes. If quarterback Andy Dalton chooses to stay away from Sherman, it could mean more passes for Boyd. The Pittsburgh product should be able to exploit his matchup against 49ers cornerback K'Waun Williams, who has been dealing with a knee injury.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross had a huge Week 1 performance against the Seattle Seahawks, catching seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Expectations for Ross have increased, but he has a much tougher matchup in Week 2 against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. Although Sherman is getting older (31), he's still a solid cornerback and quarterbackAndy Dalton could simply look to avoid the matchup. It's possible that Ross could run by Sherman for a deep ball, but absent that it's quite possible the Bengals speedster comes back down to Earth in this one. Ross will be difficult to trust as a WR3 in 12-team leagues in Week 2 and should be considered a boom-or-bust commodity.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill was limited to 27 rushing yards and no touchdowns on seven carries in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens gave the ball to all three backfield options in the opening drive against Miami and it's clear they will be looking to utilize all three as the season progresses. There's no question that Hill will get touches, but Baltimore may look to push the ball through the middle of the Cardinals front line with talented outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Chandler Jones helping Arizona's edge. This type of game plan would result in running backs Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards seeing the bulk of touches to start. Hill can be played as an RB3/4 in Week 2 with the most touchdown potential going to Ingram and Edwards.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead caught 2-of-3 targets for 41 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. Snead is the third receiver on the depth chart being Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, but was targeted more than Boykin in Week 1. Expect Brown and tight end Mark Andrews to receive the bulk of targets from quarterback Lamar Jackson, but Snead has sneaky upside against a Cardinals Defense that allowed quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw for 385 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. Snead can be played as a WR4/5 flyer in most formats for Week 2.
Baltimore Ravens practice squad CB Maurice Canady was signed to the 53-man roster Saturday, Sept. 14. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived OT Greg Senat.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday despite being listed as questionable for Week 2. Expect Ingram to lead the backfield in touches against a Cardinals Defense that allowed the most rushing yards in the league in 2018 (2,479). The Cardinals only gave up 116 rushing yards to the Lions in Week 1 and limited running back Kerryon Johnson to 49 yards with zero touchdowns. Baltimore's run-first offense allows for Ingram to slide in your starting lineups as he will be utilized to wear out the Cardinals front line and keep the defense honest under the looming presence of quarterback Lamar Jackson's seemingly improved passing game.
Coming off an uninspiring performance in Week 1, the future doesn't look much brighter for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in a Week 2 home matchup with the New England Patriots. Fitzpatrick completed 14-for-29 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his first start for the Dolphins but most of the damage came after the game was already out of hand, with the Dolphins ultimately losing 59-10 at home to the Ravens. Surrounded by few offensive weapons and protected by a shaky offensive line, Fitzpatrick is only worth a desperation start in leagues starting more than one quarterback.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has good potential for another nice outing against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. The Week 1 star faces a Cardinals Defense that allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the league in 2018 (3,262). The Cardinals defense allowed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw for 385 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. Despite the Ravens run-first offense, expect Jackson to connect with wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews for good fantasy output again in Week 2. Thrust him into your starting line up in good faith against the porous Cardinals secondary.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs should be viewed as a WR2 ahead of Week 2's matchup against the Green Bay Packers, as he appears fully healthy and figures to see more than the two targets he received in Week 1's run-heavy game. His potential CB-matchups are also favorable (he toasted Jaire Alexander for 8/77/1 last year). The only roadblock seems to be the Vikings looking to prioritize the rushing attack - but that may not come as easy on the road against the division rivals. With the news that he was kept off Friday's injury report completely, view Diggs as a firm WR2 with a lower floor than originally anticipated in Week 2.
New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski will have a prime matchup against a talent-challenged Dolphins team in Week 2. Gostkowski was a perfect 4-for-4 in Week 1 against the Steelers, including nailing all three of his extra points. Expect the veteran kicker to have another active game and should be a top scorer at his position in fantasy for Week 2. Last season, Gostkowski went 3-for-4 on field goals against the Dolphins and 8-of-9 on extra points spanning two games.
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead will try and replicate a productive Week 1 performance this Sunday against the Dolphins. Burkhead led the Patriots with 44 rushing yards and added five catches for 41 yards. He will go up against a Dolphins Defense in Week 2 that allowed a combined 34.9 fantasy points to opposing running backs last week. Teammate Sony Michel is, by far, the most talented runner in the Patriots backfield but Burkhead will certainly see his share. The veteran could be looking at 10-15 touches once again, especially if the Patriots build a huge lead early.