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.''
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack is his team's lead back. He's far and away the best player at his position on his team. In Week 2, he was stifled by the Tennessee Titans. In Week 3, he has a matchup that is advantageous for him to have a good outcome. The Atlanta Falcons got ran over by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, and the Colts have an even better offensive line. With the speed to hit a big play at any time, Mack belongs in lineups this week with a good amount of confidence.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been quietly steady through the first two weeks. In the team's Week 3 matchup, he has another positive matchup. The Atlanta Falcons Defense has a lot of speed, but they haven't been shutting opponents out through the air. Unless Brissett gets an amazing matchup, he'll consistently be a QB2, but he has a lot of upside this week. This game has some shootout potential, and Brissett could benefit as a result.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin (concussion) remains in the concussion protocol, but head coach Jason Garrett said he is improving. Austin doesn't have a very good chance of being cleared for Sunday against the Dolphins at this rate. He's not much of a fantasy consideration as mainly a kick returner and gadget player on offense, although the Cowboys could use him a little more when he returns with Michael Gallup out two to four weeks.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Smith injured his ankle late in the Week 2 loss and appears primed to miss Week 3 on the road against the Seahawks. With Drew Brees (thumb) out at least the next six weeks, Smith doesn't have much redraft value at the moment despite the injury. If he sits out, rookie Deonte Harris and Austin Carr will battle for work behind Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn. All Saints pass-catchers need to be downgraded with Brees on the shelf.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (knee) has missed practice the last two days with a bruised knee and was limping considerably on Thursday. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy (ankle) was limited on Thursday, so it's looking like Williams will sit out in Week 3 against the Ravens. If McCoy is active, he'll have RB2 upside in what will likely be a fast-paced and high-scoring game. Rookie Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams could step in behind McCoy for some touches. Thompson would have some flex appeal in deeper PPR leagues. If you own Damien Williams, you should prepare as if he won't play this Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley (groin) was a full participant in practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. After missing the first two games of the season, it looks like Badgley has a good chance to make his season debut in Week 3 against the Texans. He's trending upwards as a fantasy booter, but we'd recommend a wait-and-see approach until he proves his health. The Bolts are hoping he's back full time, as they can't afford anymore special teams miscues that cost them wins. When Badgley is healthy, he can be a decent streaming option in good matchups.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (knee) and tight end Vance McDonald (back) were both full participants in practice on Thursday. Conner missed practice entirely on Wednesday, so it appears that he will play in Week 3 against the 49ers. Still, Conner could share more work with backup Jaylen Samuels with Mason Rudolph now at quarterback, making him more of a low-end RB2 against an improved 49ers Defense. McDonald had two touchdowns when Rudolph spelled Big Ben last week and could be a safety blanket for the second-year signal-caller. Consider McDonald a low-end TE1 on the rise.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby is an effective starting option this week against the Denver Broncos. Crosby has been accurate all season, and in familiar surroundings there is no reason why that would change. The Denver Broncos have allowed just over an average number of field-goal attempts, giving up four so far this season. With the Packers expected to win the matchup, combining the field-goal opportunity with the expectation of extra-point conversions, Crosby should be a starter for fantasy owners this week.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook has yet to show fantasy owners any uptick in production after joining a new team this past offseason. Through two games with the Saints, Cook has managed a disappointing 64 yards on four receptions. It's not surprising, but not what fantasy owners were hoping for. Cook is now without his starting quarterback for the next six weeks of the season and cannot be trusted as more than a middle-of-the-road TE2 going forward. Consider him a risky start in Week 3 in Seattle.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling should be considered as a flex option with upside this week. Valdes-Scantling had some boom plays in the opening matchup against the Chicago Bears but struggled to make the same impact against the Minnesota Vikings last week. The Denver Broncos have only given up an average of 15.6 points to the position, but haven't faced a quarterback of significant talent yet this season. Given that Davante Adams is due to face a tough personal battle in the matchup, Valdes-Scantling has a great opportunity to bounce back with a few big plays this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison has had a wildly inconsistent start to the season, making him a difficult player to trust in lineups this week. Allison wasn't given a single target in the Packers opening matchup and while he had four receptions last week, it was the touchdown that saved his fantasy value. Allison has been used primarily as a large slot player so far this season, but at the moment seems to be a touchdown-or-bust option. While that might change later in the season, fantasy owners should look elsewhere for wide receiver production this week, especially since the Denver Broncos have given up just 15.6 points to the position.
The Green Bay Packers Defenseis a good option for fantasy owners this week. In previous seasons, the defense has struggled to have a consistent impact. However, after multiple additions in the offseason, the Packers have been an effective fantasy option this season. The've only allowed 19 points so far this season, as well as totaling six sacks and five turnovers. The Denver Broncos have struggled to get their offense firing consistently and are on the road in a tough environment, making the Packers worth a start this week.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will look to get on track in Buffalo on Sunday. After injuring his ankle during the Week 1 encounter with the 49ers, Mixon has undoubtedly not been at his best, racking up just 27 yards on 17 rushing attempts to go along with just five receptions. Things won't be easy for the 23-year-old, however, as he will be going up against an efficient Bills Defense that has allowed 23.05 fantasy points to opposing backs while allowing opponents to accumulate just 296.5 total yards this season. Nonetheless, Mixon is still a must-start in most fantasy leagues despite his dismal play this season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will hit the road for a potentially rough Week 3 matchup against Buffalo. The Bills Defense has been one of the most effective units in the league this season, allowing opponents to net just 296.5 yards through the first two games of the season. Dalton has played well, however, throwing four touchdowns with only one interception to go along with a 65.6 completion percentage. With the veteran signal-caller getting some steady production from the likes of John Ross, Tyler Boyd, and Tyler Eifert, Dalton could be a decent streamer in all formats for those in need of a quarterback despite the tough matchup on Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers probably didn't expect to be rolling into Week 3 with a field goal record of 0-for-1. Seattle made 22 field goals in 27 attempts last season, but after two weeks of 2019, they've attempted just one shot for three points. Even that attempt was a serious long shot as Myers was forced to kick at the end of the first half against Pittsburgh from 58 yards out. That would have tied his career-long, and no one is really upset that he missed that bomb. The good news is that he is 7-for-7 on extra points so far, and eventually, he'll get his chances on field goals.
New Orleans Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. (thigh) was limited during practice Thursday, Sept. 19..
Fantasy Spin: Ginn likely will lose some fantasy value because of the change at quarterback but is still a big play threat. He could be a flex option in some leagues but could be benched if better options are available.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (thumb) and WR Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Sept. 19. FB Zach Line (knee), OG Andrus Peat (ankle) and DT Sheldon Rankins (Achilles) were limited during practice.
When the Seattle Seahawks drafted wide receiver D.K. Metcalf in the second round of this year's draft, there was a ton of criticism about how Metcalf was nothing but a workout warrior. However, head coach Pete Carroll was enthralled by Metcalf's size and speed combination. He's been searching for that type of receiver for years, trying out the likes of Sidney Rice, Brandon Marshall, and others. None have been the right fit for long, but so far, Metcalf has been fantastic. Metcalf will get another chance to prove the doubters wrong when he faces a soft Saints secondary on Sunday. He should have no problem racking up some more points.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow has made a mark in the team's offense, leading the team with eight targets in Week 2. He'll look to follow that up this week as the squad travels to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in a game that will likely force more pass attempts from Derek Carr. With Tyrell Williams drawing coverage from All-Pro Xavier Rhodes, the field could open up more for Renfrow who's starting to become a weapon underneath the secondary. He's too risky to start in DFS and redraft leagues, but with another solid showing, he could be a sneaky option in PPR formats.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly caught his first touchdown of the season last Sunday, and it was quite the relief for him. Dissly doubted that he'd ever play in the NFL again after he tore his patellar tendon last September, and the concern jumped up again when he left the team's Week 1 game early due to banging knees with a teammate. Now, it looks like he might be able to find a regular spot in the rotation of the offense. Dissly ended up hauling in two touchdowns in the win against Pittsburgh, and suddenly, teams are going to have to start scheming for him. With Seattle looking like they'll have no problem reaching the red zone regularly, expect Dissly to be a big, attractive target for Russell Wilson.