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Saints vs Cardinals Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Verdicts for Taysom Hill, Rondale Moore, More

Saints vs Cardinals Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Verdicts for Taysom Hill, Rondale Moore, More article feature image
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Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Rondale Moore.

Back-to-back boring Thursday Night Football games have set the bar ludicrously low for entertainment purposes. NFL fans at least have a glimmer of hope for an interesting game in Week 7 as the Saints take on the Cardinals in Arizona.

This is the first game in three weeks with a point total above 42 — and both previous games went firmly under. Thursday’s matchup features two 2-4 teams, each of which have struggled on both sides of the ball.

Arizona ranks 20th in defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders and have scored the 11th-fewest points per game this year. New Orleans has struggled to find their stride under a brand new coaching regime and amid a plethora of injuries to key offensive players, such as Jameis Winston, Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas. Their defense has allowed the fourth-most points per game and their offense currently leads the NFL in giveaways with 13 (tied with the Rams).

Some lineup decisions, like starting Kyler Murray, Alvin Kamara or Zach Ertz, are easy. Below are some fringe players at each position you may be on the fence about starting in the Saints vs. Cardinals Thursday Night Football game based on matchups, injuries and trends.

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Saints Week 7 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em

WR Chris Olave

Hopefully a one-game absence isn’t enough for Olave to fall off of your fantasy radar. He suffered a concussion during the Saints’ Week 5 matchup against the Seahawks (though still managed to put up solid numbers for fantasy) and subsequently missed Week 6 while in the protocol. Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas also missed the game, forcing New Orleans to lean on receivers Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway and tight end Juwan Johnson.

Olave cleared the protocol as of Tuesday and is expected to play this Thursday in Arizona. He has had a phenomenal rookie campaign thus far and was the WR13 in half-PPR scoring through five weeks. The Ohio State rookie had a breakout game in Week 3 against the Panthers, tallying nine catches on 13 targets for 147 yards. He scored a touchdown in back-to-back weeks after that and had been one of the betting-favorites for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Note: Olave has moved down to +1000 odds in the OROY market at DraftKings behind Breece Hall (+250), Dameon Pierce (+500) and Kenneth Walker III (+750). 

Verdict: Start as a WR2. It’s no secret that Olave was probably my favorite wide receiver prospect in this super stacked rookie class. His polished route-running tempered the transition from college to the NFL and his sub-4.4 speed is apparent in his ability to create separation. The only knock I heard from scouts was about his slighter frame and how he would stack up against  physical NFL secondaries, which has not been an issue thus far.

Olave is a no-brainer start with both Thomas and Landry already ruled out for this game. Even when all three are healthy, Olave is a solid WR3/flex with upside.

TE/QB Taysom Hill

Hill exploded in Week 5 against a porous Seattle defense and rushed nine times for 112 yards and three touchdowns. He also tacked on a passing touchdown and was the TE1 for the week, even eclipsing Travis Kelce’s four-touchdown performance on Monday night. As a result, many fantasy managers went rushing to the waiver wire to grab Hill, who is technically tight end-eligible on most platforms despite having been targeted once all year.

But in good Taysom Hill form, he disappointed in Week 6, logging just five carries for 39 yards and finishing as the TE25. This was always within the range of potential outcomes for the gadget player, who has sky-high upside as well as a nonexistent floor.

Hill’s usage has always been erratic, though seems to be a bit more consistent with Andy Dalton under center. Dalton has yet to be officially named as the starter for Thursday night’s game, which means we could see the return of Jameis Winston. This would be a potential downgrade from a volume standpoint for Hill.

Verdict: Start as a low-end TE1 barring better options. Frankly, I thought we were done with this chapter in fantasy once longtime head coach Sean Payton left, but the Saints insist on using Hill as this hybrid tight end/running back/wide receiver/quarterback/special teams player. Not all managers have the stomach to ride the Taysom Hill rollercoaster each week. It’s a simple risk-reward calculus, as he offers arguably the highest upside of any tight end for fantasy.

With four teams on bye, it’s difficult to name 12 tight ends who I’d rather start over Hill. He is a serviceable streamer for Goedert, Knox or Higbee managers.

Cardinals Week 7 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em

WR DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins was activated on Monday following a six-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and is expected to make his season debut on Thursday against the Saints. He immediately vaults into fantasy relevance as a three-time first-team All-Pro and amid the news that star wideout Marquise Brown will likely miss four to six weeks with a foot injury he suffered in Week 6.

Brown, 25, leaves a gaping void on the Cardinals’ depth chart. He is coming off of a banner season for the Ravens in which he caught 91 of 146 targets for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns and finished as the WR22 in half-PPR scoring. He led the team in all receiving categories through six games and was on pace for an even stronger season this year.

Hopkins, 30, will now be the incumbent WR1, which is an enviable position given how gratuitously the Cardinals have been throwing the ball this year (third-most passing attempts in the NFL). The former Texan battled multiple injuries last year which sidelined him for seven games. He still tallied eight touchdowns over 10 games and will likely get a lot of looks from quarterback Kyler Murray in the red zone.

Murray should also get a boost from this addition, as the Cardinals’ signal-caller has averaged 9% more passing yards with Hopkins versus without.

Verdict: Start as a WR2. I have faint reservations about starting Hopkins, given that he was only activated on Monday and will have a limited number of practices on the short week. That said, before his injury-marred 2021 season, Hopkins tallied no fewer than 1,165 receiving yards in six of his seven seasons and earned five Pro Bowl nominations.

Hopkins is the wide receiver to roster rest-of-season on this team for fantasy and should stack up nicely opposite a Marshon Lattimore-less Saints team, whose defense is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year.

WR Rondale Moore

Moore missed the first three games of the season nursing a hamstring injury and has looked strong since his return. In Weeks 5 and 6, the Purdue product tallied 13 catches on 18 targets for 117 total yards and clearly won his job back from 2019 undrafted free agent Greg Dortch.

Moore offers a ton of upside — especially in PPR formats — as the primary slot target for Murray with Brown out. He will compete with Hopkins for targets, though Hopkins’ production last season primarily came from his high touchdown rate, not volume.

Verdict: Start as a WR3/flex. I do not anticipate newly-acquired Robbie Anderson to play a major role, especially this week having just been traded on a short week. This should keep Moore’s target share high as the No. 2 or 3 option in this high-volume offense which gives him a relatively high floor in PPR scoring.

The matchup is sweet against the Saints’ pass defense, which has been particularly susceptible against slot receivers and has been carved up by everyone from Justin Jefferson to Laviska Shenault.

RB James Conner and Eno Benjamin

Conner exited the Cardinals’ Week 5 matchup against the Eagles due to a rib injury and missed Week 6. The team leaned on Benjamin (and Murray) for their ground attack during that time, which has been a mixed bag of success.

Benjamin tallied 11 touches for 53 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in Week 5 stepping in with Conner and Darrel Williams going down in the game. He was a popular waiver wire add heading into Week 6, but failed to capitalize on a soft matchup against the Seahawks. He tallied 18 touches for 65 scrimmage yards and finished as the RB22.

Conner has missed practice all week and is a true game-time decision which complicates matters for fantasy. Benjamin, meanwhile, has been limited with a foot injury. He is considered day-to-day and appears to be much more likely to play than Conner.

Verdict: Avoid both if you can. Connor will be tempting to plug into lineups if he dresses, though I would certainly temper expectations. He has had exactly one good game for fantasy finishing as a RB2 or higher which came in Week 1 against the Chiefs. If he plays, there is also the risk that his workload is limited after not having practiced and fear of re-injury.

Benjamin is an obvious sit for me if Conner plays. If Conner sits, I would consider starting Benjamin as a low-end flex, though this matchup is significantly less attractive than last week’s. The Saints have been above-average against the run and are allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs this year.

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