Come along as we recap TNF for the 2023 season with the matchup of Jacksonville @New Orleans. Before we kickoff, hit me with a follow on Twitter to get updates for every time I release a new article right here. I’ll be doing recap articles for every Thursday Night game & the full weekend slate (in addition to other content).
Alright ― enough of that ― let’s talk ball.
Thursday Night Football has been notoriously low scoring over the years, as many in the gambling community are likely privy to. However, if you’ve leaned into that strategy this year, you’re likely sitting in the red with a 3-4 Under record on the Thursday slate after a surprisingly high-scoring 31-24 win for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Keep in mind, this was a bout between two teams with recently scuffling offenses, both of which with QBs at supposedly less than 100%. Odd indeed.
This is important to note because fantasy outlets will tend to depress the fantasy projections for offensive players on Thursday night. Whether this is a small sample to disregard is impossible to tell at this juncture, but it’s evidence to support not shying away from your guys just because they play early in the week (as I have been prone to consider in the past).
All of that in mind, let’s breakdown last night’s game between two teams fighting for the top spot in their respective divisions.
We’ll try to make a habit of starting with the road team. The story of the night for the Jaguars offense has to be RB Travis Etienne, albeit with fairly inefficient usage (3.8 YPC w/ a 17-yard long). Etienne now has 6(!) rushing TDs over his last 3 games & 7 on the young season. Coming off of two matchups versus top 10 rush defenses, Etienne was able to thrive through that inefficiency with 20+ PPR points in each contest. He’ll get a tasty matchup vs the Steelers next week before the team heads out for their bye. He’s a locked & loaded RB1 for fantasy with his RZ usage, big play ability, & increased usage in the pass game.
The Saints offense looked really good beyond Etienne early in the game, with Trevor Lawrence surprisingly contributing for his biggest rushing game of the season on the heels of a questionable tag due to knee soreness. The bigger story here is the continued ascension of Christian Kirk as the team’s WR1. Kirk led the team in receptions, yards, & aDOT. I was among few this offseason who was targeting Kirk over fellow teammate Calvin Ridley at cost, largely due to his proven connection with Lawrence & TLaw’s historical propensity to target the slot. As for Ridley, his bizarre slide continues as well. Fantasy managers have to be pounding salt after a 1 catch, 5 yard game. Above all else, Ridley simply looks…ineffective. You’re probably not selling after such a terrible game, but I’m certainly listening to offers if they come my way.
Evan Engram, meanwhile, has comfortably slotted into the TE6-10 range on a weekly basis it would seem. This Jaguars team is such an opportunity funnel that there is little to consider beyond these names.
New Orleans Saints
Where to start here. Let’s start positive. Anyone who drafted Alvin Kamara in the mid-rounds arguably has the steal of the year. He has risen all the way to no-doubt RB1 status moving forward, as he’s now on pace to record his fourth straight RB1 week since returning from suspension. He has now recorded an insane 35 receptions in those four games while still handling an average of 19+ carries per game over his last 3. That’s elite workhorse usage & ― should it continue ― you’re looking at a guy who will finish as a top 5 RB who was typically being drafted outside of the top 20 guys at the position. Steal.
Beyond that, the major storyline out of New Orleans should be the continued frustration when watching Derek Carr & Chris Olave operate together. It’s very clear the two are not often on the same page & it resulted in another uber-inefficient line of 7 catches for 57 yards on a whopping 15 targets. Olave has yet to post a WR1 week on the season, & that statline isn’t going to get him there for Week 7. Since a cake matchup Week 1 against Tennessee (WR14 finish), Olave has only cracked the top 20 WRs once. The good news is he’ll have three cupcake matchups prior to the team’s Week 11 bye, facing the Colts, Bears, & Vikings. Now is a gorgeous time to buy Chris Olave in both Redraft & Dynasty.
Thanks for joining us for this week’s recap. Get ready for a much more thorough version of this article on Tuesday following this week’s Monday Night game. Cheers til then team. You can check out our articles here. Or you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Image Credit: Chuck Cook – USA TODAY Sports