Let’s be honest. Some of these Thursday Night Football games have been a bit clunky, to put it mildly. The last few games have been struggles for fantasy managers looking to get an early lead in fantasy points for their weekly matchups. For example, those desperate enough to play Carson Wentz in Week 6 against Chicago were stung to the beat by a four-point fantasy performance from the Commanders’ quarterback. But the fantasy season continues to roll on and another Thursday night game is upon us so let’s get those lineups set with a preview of the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints game.
Kyler Murray – Murray has been rather solid so far this season despite his glaring slow starts in the first half of games this year. Murray is averaging 19 fantasy points per game and ranks as the QB6 heading into the Thursday night matchup against the Saints. Murray is looking to bounce back after his 15 fantasy point game against the division rival Seattle Seahawks.
Murray should also see a boost in production as he gets DeAndre Hopkins back from suspension this week. Murray takes on a Saints defense that’s allowing the 12th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and 13th in Air Yards. Murray is also averaging 6.3 rushing attempts per game so far this season too.
Jameis Winston/Andy Dalton – At the time of writing this article, both quarterbacks have been “limited” in practice this week with their respective back injuries. The rumors going around the league are that Dalton could have an opportunity to steal the show and become the starter moving forward for the New Orleans Saints. While I don’t get why teams are enamored with the possibility of Dalton starting, Dalton may get another crack at being a starter on this short turnaround.
However, Dalton’s performance leaves much to be desired for fantasy managers. Averaging just over 11 fantasy points per game with a 3:1 TD to INT-ratio over his three starts for the team, Dalton isn’t a trustworthy option for fantasy managers even in the most desperate of situations.
Winston has faired just slightly better in the same categories, averaging nearly 15 fantasy points per game over his first three starts at the beginning of the season and a 4:5 TD-to-INT ratio. Winston’s back issue has been keeping him out but last week, Winston was active “in case of emergency” to back up Andy Dalton.
Take from that what you will but in my opinion, Winston gives the Saints a more dynamic passing attack. The Cardinals have given up eight passing touchdowns so far this season and have given up the 10th most passing yards to quarterbacks.
James Conner/Eno Benjamin – Both backs have been dealing with injuries leading up to Thursday Night Football but it looks like Eno Benjamin will be in line to play. Benjamin was dealing with a foot injury but was able to practice in full on Wednesday. James Conner on the other hand who has been dealing with a rib injury was unable to practice this week and is considered a game-time decision. If Conner ultimately can’t go, Benjamin will be the lead back for the Cardinals. The Saints rush defense is giving off “A Tale of Two Stories” vibes as they are allowing 120.8 yards per game on the ground but are giving up just 18.8 fantasy points per game, the eighth-fewest among fantasy defenses.
Alvin Kamara – Kamara has returned (finally) after being out Week’s 2 and 4. Over his last two games, Alvin Kamara is averaging nearly 21 fantasy points per game and he should continue to see the bulk of the rushing and passing situations for the saints heading into this game. The strength of the Cardinals’ defense is its run defense, which is allowing just 103.8 rushing yards per game (7th fewest in the NFL) but as noted earlier, Kamara can also make his money in the passing game.
Chris Olave – Yes, that’s about it. Rookie wide receiver Chris Olave looks to be the lone starter still standing to head into Thursday Night Football as Michael Thomas (toe) and Jarvis Landry (ankle) has been ruled OUT for TNF. Olave should see a larger target share but his ability to be used as a deep threat is all but gone should Andy Dalton draw another start. Olave is coming back from a concussion himself. Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith should see action tonight but neither of these guys are viable fantasy options.
DeAndre Hopkins/Rondale Moore/Robbie Anderson – DeAndre Hopkins is back from his six-game suspension and Marquise Brown is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Brown’s 26.3% target share will likely change hands back to Hopkins. Newly traded wide receiver Robbie Anderson is expected to play in his first game as a Cardinal but with less time to get into the playbook, it’s unclear how he’ll be used. Rondale Moore should still be involved as he’s seen his targets increase in each game over the last three weeks since coming back from his own injuries. I’d be comfortable starting Hopkins and Moore, leaving Anderson on the bench for now until there is more information
Zach Ertz – Ertz should continue to see targets as the number two option for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Ertz has been playing well so far this season even with Hopkins out of the lineup. Ertz is averaging nearly nine targets a game and is third among tight ends in targets. The Saints are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends so far this season but Ertz’s target share should be enough to keep him afloat.
Saints Tight Ends? – Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson, Nick Vannett? – While Juwan Johnson has shown the most upside as a receiver, it wouldn’t be wise to suggest any of these guys as options for this game. Stay away from this tight corp. If you are looking at this group for fantasy options, you might need to start making some trades.