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Saints' Brees dismisses concerns about arm strength, stats

Tue Aug 20 5:40pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Mark Ingram

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.''

Player Notes
DeVante Parker Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker was a bit of a question mark heading into this one because of the hamstring issue. Despite that, Parker caught five of eight targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. Sadly, the Dolphins weren't able to pull off the comeback victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. However, Parker will have a much easier matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars next week. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on Parker as a WR2 for that contest.

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Hunter Henry Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry put together another strong performance in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Henry hauled in eight of his six targets for 83 yards. Henry has seemed to be a favorite of both quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor (chest) and Justin Herbert and should continue to put together strong numbers with whoever is behind center. Henrys biggest flaw throughout his career has been his health, so it wouldnt be a bad idea for managers to shop Henry at a high value. Henry should still be treated as a top-10 option at the position and as long as his health pans out, managers should be happy with the results. Henry will face the Panthers in Week 3 and should be started every week in 10-team leagues.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sep 20 8:30pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense looked very convincing in a Week 2 win over Carolina. The unit recorded five sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries en route to a 31-17 victory. Rising star Devin White led the team in tackles with 15 while Ndamukong Suh recorded two sacks. With a Week 3 date set up against the Broncos and backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, Tampa Bay's defense should once again be among the best units to use for fantasy purposes.

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Mark Andrews Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews had just one catch for 29 yards during the win over the Texans on Sunday. With the team turning toward its rushing attack behind the trio of Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins, the former Sooner saw his production dwindle after a two-touchdown performance against the Browns in Week 1. Nonetheless, this output shouldn't be alarming as Andrews likely has plenty more effective fantasy outings left in the tank over the team's next 14 contests. He will attempt to get back on track in Week 3 for a Monday Night Football showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Dan Arnold Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals tight end Dan Arnold was the team's top pass-catching tight end for the second-straight game in Week 2. Arnold caught two of his four targets for 26 yards in the game. The Cardinals were without Maxx Williams (ankle) in the game. Williams had two targets in Week 1, but didn't catch either. Darrell Daniels was the only other tight end to receive a target in Week 2. He earned just one look, but failed to reel it in. It's encouraging that Arnold is the clear No. 1 tight end for a highly-productive Cardinals offense, but he's going to need to put some better production together before we consider him a legitimate fantasy option.

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Preston Williams Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams put together another dud performance in the Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Williams hauled in one of his five targets for 26 yards in this one. To be fair, All-Pro defensive back Tre'Davious White was on Williams for a good amount of this game. Williams has struggled to start the season, but is expected to bounce back against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. Williams should be able to be counted on as a low-end WR3 or flex option next week.

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Mike Williams Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams struggled in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Williams was a popular waiver wire add after a strong Week 1, but was only targeted four times by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. Williams only caught two balls and those went for 14 yards. Despite the rough performance, Williams should see brighter days ahead as Justin Herbert is likely to remain the starter at quarterback. Williams should be treated as a WR4/WR5 in deeper leagues for now, but has strong upside if he reaches his potential.

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Arizona Cardinals Sep 20 8:30pm ET

The Cardinals Defense held the Washington Football Team to just 15 points in Week 2. Washington only scored three points in the first three quarters, but managed a few touchdowns with failed two-point conventions in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals sacked Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. four times and also recovered a Haskins fumble as well as a Steven Sims Jr.fumble. The Cardinals have now turned in two-straight solid defensive efforts and have a favorable matchup against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. They'll be a potential low-end starting option next week.

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Jason Sanders Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders put together a fairly solid game versus the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. Sanders connected on both of his field goals attempts of the game. He nailed a 52-yard field goal, which is quite impressive. Sanders finished with eight points in the game, but sadly the Dolphins weren't able to pull off the win. Unfortunately, the Dolphins offense isn't very reliable otherwise Sanders could have some fantasy value. He's a decent kicker, but Miami doesn't give him enough chances to warrant adding in most formats.

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Randall Cobb Sep 20 8:30pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Randall Cobb was more involved in Week 2 than he was in Houston's first game of 2020, catching five passes for 59 yards in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Cobb was expected to serve as an underneath option for quarterback Deshaun Watson this year, and on Sunday he looked like he was playing the role as expected. Cobb could be a solid streaming option in full PPR leagues, though we might want to see another game of Cobb at this level of involvement before we fully start to trust the veteran receiver.

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Ryan Succop Sep 20 8:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop made one field-goal and four extra-points in a 31-17 win over the Panthers. Succop had a solid role in Week 2, as the Buccaneers offense made several trips to the red zone. That could be a common occurrence with the number of weapons they possess on offense. After two weeks, Succop has made 2 of 3 field-goals and all six extra-points. He should be a starting option next week against the Broncos, who just allowed 26 points to the Steelers.

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Larry Fitzgerald Sep 20 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was extremely efficient in Week 2 against the Washington Football Team, catching all seven of his targets for 50 yards. He was second on the team in receptions behind DeAndre Hopkins, but he was out-gained in yardage by three others - Hopkins, Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk. Fitzgerald averaged just 7.1 yards per reception, which isn't a huge surprise, but certainly highlights his current place on the team as their short-yardage extraordinaire. Because of this role, he has a rather limited ceiling, but his floor in PPR is nice to have as he should regularly catch around five passes or more on a weekly basis.

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Marquise Brown Sep 20 8:20pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Marquise Brown finished with five catches for 42 yards during the win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. Hollywood equaled his Week 1 total in receptions but took a step backward overall as the team relied heavily on the rushing attack. Fantasy managers shouldn't be alarmed as Brown's seesaw season will likely continue, primarily with Baltimore having so many different options to turn to on its roster. Next up for the former Sooner will be the Kansas City Chiefs at home for a Monday Night Football clash.

From RotoBaller

Joshua Kelley Sep 20 8:20pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers rookie running back Joshua Kelley continues to be a valuable option for fantasy managers. Kelley entrenched himself as the No. 2 running back in Week 1 and continued the momentum against the Chiefs on Sunday. The rookie rushed 23 times compared to Austin Ekelers 16 attempts and put up 64 yards with a pair of catches for 49 yards. Ekeler remains the No. 1 runner in the backfield for the Chargers, but Kelley is getting enough run to warrant being owner across the board. Expect Ekeler to get most of the catches out of the backfield, but Kelley receiving seven more rush attempts was a positive sign. Kelley should be owned and considered as a flex in Week 3 versus the Panthers.

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Isaiah Ford Sep 20 8:20pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Isaiah Ford put together a surprisingly solid performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. He finished with seven receptions on nine targets for 76 yards in the loss. Ford only caught two passes during Week 1, but was much more involved here. It's unclear if Ford will continue to be used heavily in the passing attack or if this was a fluke. Standard league owners should keep an eye on what Ford does versus the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. Deep league owners might want to consider Ford as a low-end flex option next week.

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Andy Isabella Sep 20 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella was the team's second-leading receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins in Week 2. Isabella caught both of his targets and compiled 67 receiving yards on the day. Most of his yardage came on a 54-yard reception. Isabella is no stranger to the big play. Despite a disappointing rookie year last year, he still came up with an 88-yard touchdown reception as well as a 55-yard reception. The Cardinals have a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game. Isabella's only chance at having a regular role would likely be if he's able to unseat Christian Kirk as the team's No. 2. Kirk caught two of his four targets for 57 yards in Week 2. Isabella can remain on waivers in all fantasy leagues right now, but he's worth keeping an eye on going forward.

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Jordan Howard Sep 20 8:10pm ET

Miami Dolphins running back Jordan Howard has already found the end zone once this season, but was able to do it again in Week 2. Howard rushed fives time for four yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins use a three-back committee, which limits their fantasy value. Howard appears to be the back they trust near the goal line, but that doesn't mean a lot. He has become a desperation low-end flex option who is basically touchdown dependent. There is a chance that he rebounds against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. However, most fantasy owners should leave Howard on the bench until he proves he's reliable.

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DeAndre Hopkins Sep 20 8:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins continued to groove with quarterback Kyler Murray in Week 2. Hopkins caught eight of his nine targets for 68 yards and a touchdown, his first touchdown as a Cardinal. He has now caught 22 of the 25 passes Murray has thrown his way this year. While Hopkins didn't have quite the obscene target-share that he did in Week 1, he was still the clear target leader on the team. Larry Fitzgerald was next on the team with seven short-distance targets, but no other Cardinals pass-catcher earned over four targets. Keep rolling Hopkins out there as an elite WR1. He should stay hot in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions.

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Austin Ekeler Sep 20 8:10pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler put together a nice all-around performance in a Week 2 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ekeler was a popular preseason selection and put up 84 yards in Week 1, but the pass-catcher only had one reception. Week 2 yielded better results with 93 yards and four catches for 55 yards. Ekeler was playing with Justin Herbert over Tyrod Taylor (chest) this week and it was a positive sign to him get involved in the pass game. No. 2 running back Joshua Kelley had another good start and isnt going away, so owners would wise to try to own both players. Ekelers value should be on the rise if Herbert continues to start as should his receptions. He is a top-10 running back play versus the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.

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Brandin Cooks Sep 20 8:10pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks led the team with 95 receiving yards in Week 2's loss to the Baltimore. He was targeted a team-high eight times, bringing in five of those for receptions. Cooks played the role that Will Fuller V had played in Week 1. Houston's lack of a clear-cut No. 1 receiver means that no one might emerge as a consistently weekly threat here, complicating things immensely for fantasy football managers who were hoping that either Fuller or Cooks would become a solid WR2 this season.

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