Kickoff Sunday, Oct 10th 1:00pm Eastern

Saints (
23) at


Over/Under 43.5


Key Matchups
Saints Run D
25th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Commanders Run O
16th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Saints Pass D
11th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Commanders Pass O
27th DVOA/27th Yards per pass
Commanders Run D
16th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Saints Run O
13th DVOA/31st Yards per carry
Commanders Pass D
32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Saints Pass O
20th DVOA/22nd Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86 >>
  • These are not the Saints we have become accustomed to over the last decade and a half, as they operate at a plodding pace and have one of the broadest touch distributions in the NFL.
  • Washington enters Week 5 at 2-2 but their record is a bit of an illusion since they have the second worst point differential among the 20 NFL teams who are currently .500 or better
  • Washington’s two wins have come against the 1-3 Falcons (only win was against the Giants) and the 1-3 Giants (only win was in OT against the Saints)
  • The likeliest game plan for both teams involves banking on their opponent’s QB to make some costly turnovers to give them control, rather than aggressive schemes and play calling to try to take control

How new orleans Will Try To Win ::

After four weeks, New Orleans ranks 30th in the NFL in Situational Pace of Play and has the heaviest run-to-pass ratio (58% run, 42% pass) of all 32 NFL teams. To say that they have pumped the brakes on the fast break offense we became accustomed to during the Drew Brees era would be a huge understatement. Making matters worse from a fantasy perspective, they are spreading the small number of offensive touches available across a wide variety of players. In Week 4, six players received a carry and 11 players saw at least one target. The lone fantasy viable player on this team is Alvin Kamara based on raw volume, but even he has seen his role changed dramatically and operated as a between the 20’s grinder last week, receiving zero targets for the first time in his career, while ceding goal line rushes to Taysom Hill. What a massive waste of a dynamically talented player in the prime of his career. We can only hope that Sean Payton comes to his senses going forward and finds ways to get Kamara involved with the money touches to provide a spark this offense desperately needs.

Enter Week 5 and a matchup with Washington’s defense that saw an offseason full of hype after a great 2020 campaign. Washington has responded to those expectations with the 28th-rated defense in DVOA while giving up an average of 30.5 points per game, despite playing zero offenses currently ranked in the top 10 in DVOA. The strength of the Washington defense has been their run defense by a significant margin; they rank 11th in DVOA run defense while ranking 29th in pass defense by the same metric. This results in a strength-on-strength situation where the best way to attack Washington is through the air but that is the exact opposite of how New Orleans has preferred to operate to start the season. The Saints have one of the top defenses in the league, and in this matchup, they are likely to bank on their defense which is the #1 graded run defense by PFF, forcing Washington to the air and creating turnovers.

Given Washington’s struggles in pass defense, it is possible that Payton will dial up a couple of designed looks that attack weaknesses he spots in their 32nd graded coverage unit by PFF. However, the method of attack is likely to be very similar to the extremely conservative plan they used last week, with the hope being that their defense doesn’t collapse at the end as they did against the Giants when they surrendered 17 points in the last 6:52 of regulation plus overtime. The Saints coaching staff is likely to view that outcome as an outlier and bank on being able to ice the game this time if they can put themselves in a similar situation. This should result in a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara rushes (and some Taysom Hill mixed in) with another game of limited pass attempts (the Saints have yet to attempt over 26 passes in a game this year).

How washington Will Try To Win ::

New Orleans has a very strong defense in all areas, ranking #2 overall in defensive DVOA and top six in both run and pass defense. Taylor Heinicke was a mess against Buffalo’s #1 ranked defense in Week 3 and we shouldn’t expect much more from him in this matchup. In that matchup against the Bills, Washington managed 21 points, but that stat is misleading as their three scores were an Antonio Gibson screen pass that he turned into a 73-yard TD out of nowhere; a short field TD after a fumbled kick return; and a garbage time TD in the 4th quarter against backups. The rest of the game was a struggle, to say the least, with Washington turning the ball over three times and failing to crack 300 total yards despite Gibson’s huge play and mostly negative game script. Due to injuries, Heinicke will also have a tough time relying on his playmakers to make his job easier. Washington is likely to be without TE Logan Thomas while RB Antonio Gibson, WR Curtis Samuel, and WR Dyami Brown are all battling lower-body injuries of their own.

Given the defensive matchup and injury issues among their skill players, Washington is likely to play conservatively and spread the ball around. One area of uncertainty lies in the Saints’ pass rush, as they have somehow managed to have the #6 DVOA pass defense despite being the 32nd graded pass rush by PFF. This divergence of ranks is likely to correct at some point and could be one of two situations. The first is that the Saints secondary and scheme is so good that it is able to cover up for their poor pass rush. The other is a case where their statistical ranks are inflated due to the QBs they have faced:

  • A rusty Aaron Rodgers
  • Sam Darnold in a blowout where he didn’t have any reason to press the issue
  • Mac Jones in a slug-it-out affair
  • Daniel Jones (who actually threw for over 400 yards)

Due to how difficult it is to run on New Orleans (we have much greater certainty that their run defense is for real, ranking 3rd by DVOA and 1st by PFF), we are likely to see Washington turn to a more pass-heavy game script, but attempt to do so in a very conservative way. Heinicke is averaging 5.7 rush attempts per game in his three starts, and coaches will likely emphasize to him this week to be patient and take the easy passes while utilizing his legs to extend plays, or tuck and run if nothing is there. He should have plenty of time to make decisions if he stays patient, as Washington boasts the #3 ranked pass blocking unit by PFF against the aforementioned 32nd graded pass rush of the Saints.

Likeliest Game Flow :: 

This game is set up as a game of chicken, literally. Both coaches have every reason to play extremely conservative from the outset of the game, trying to maintain field position and avoid turnovers, while hoping the opponent’s QB makes a mistake that puts them in control. Due to the nature of both sides of the game, and the coaches’ awareness of those respective matchups, neither team is likely to significantly turn up the tempo or aggressiveness early in the game. Even if one team were to jump ahead by a couple of scores in the first half, the opponent likely wouldn’t have a huge fear of the leading team running away with it and putting up 30+ points. This means that both teams will feel comfortable staying with their game plans and prioritizing the efficiency of their drives late into the game rather than needing to attack, even if the game script turns negative. The Saints have elite personnel in their secondary and Washington’s receiving corps is banged up, so even if Washington turns more pass-heavy, it is likely to be done in a very conservative way that doesn’t push the game the same way that a pass-first approach normally would.

Tributaries ::

DFS+ Interpretation ::

By LexMiraglia10 >>


  • Excluding a rested starters W17 game in 2018, Sean Payton went 10-7 vs Ron Rivera’s Panthers from 2011-2019
  • WAS has allowed 20, 30, 43, 30 points in 2021
  • NOR has scored 38, 7, 28, 21 points in 2021

Jameis Winston:

  • Jameis Winston has thrown the ball just 20, 22, 21, 23 times
  • Last week was Winston’s first game above just 150 yds with 226 yds, and he had a 50 yd TD taken off the board before NOR turned the ball over on the following play
  • WAS is allowing 7.4 yds/att (15th in NFL)
  • WAS has allowed 10 TDs to 1 INT
  • Winston’s TD:INT ratio by week: 5:0 // 0:2 // 2:0 // 1:0
  • Taysom has 3 rush TDs in the Green Zone already this season
  • WAS ranks 29th in defensive pass DVOA


  • Thomas & Tre’Quan are still expected out at least one more game
  • WAS has already allowed six WRs over 80 rec yds: Keenan (100), Williams (82:1) // Shep (94) // Beasley (98), Sanders (94:2) // Ridley (80)
  • Slayton also would’ve broke 80 but dropped wide open TD
  • With the Saints low pass volume, no Saints WR has more than 80 yds, and the two who broke 70 did so on just 2 rec each with one deep completion each
  • WAS has allowed the most completed air yds in the NFL (197/g)
  • Targets of 20+ yds: Callaway (1:58, 2tg) // Harris (1:55:1, 4tg) // Stills (0, 2tg)
  • Stills had a bomb TD called back due to penalty

Alvin Kamara:

  • Kamara’s only game with 20+ att in his first four years came in his 6 TD game vs MIN, in which by the end NOR was trying to help him break the record
  • Through four games in 2021, Kamara already has three games of 20+ att (20, 24, 26) and his backup Tony Jones was carted off the field in W4
  • WAS ranks 11th in defensive rush DVOA
  • Total yds of RBs with 10+ touches vs WAS: Ekeler (57:1) // Saquon (69) // Moss (91:1), Singletary (26) // CPatt (116:3), Davis (26:1)
  • 42 of CPatt’s 116 yds came on a deep TD pass
  • Kamara has just 13 tg on the season, and all have come short of 10 yds

Taylor Heinicke:

  • NOR has allowed 0, 2, 1, 2 TDs to Rodgers, Darnold, Mac Jones, & Daniel Jones
  • After zero 300 yd passers vs NOR in 2020, Darnold & Jones have both cleared 300 vs NOR in 2021
  • Heinicke passed for 336 & 290 vs NYG & ATL, but just 212 vs BUF, of which 73 came on a dump off to Gibson
  • Defensive pass DVOA ranks: NYG (24th), ATL (28th) // BUF (1st), NOR (6th)
  • With a still stout run defense, NOR has faced pass att of 35, 38, 51, 40
  • Heinicke’s pass att in starts: 46, 24, 33

Terry McLaurin:

  • McLaurin targets in Heinicke starts: 14, 7, 13
  • McLaurin’s share of Heinicke’s yds: (107/336) // (62/212) // (123/290)
  • #1 WRs vs NOR: Adams (5:56) // Moore (8:79:1) // Meyers (9:94) // Golladay (6:116)
  • Only TB & WAS have faced more WR targets than NOR
  • Snaps in slot vs wide: McLaurin (55 : 187) // Lattimore (7 : 157)

Antonio Gibson:

  • WAS RB rush att: Gibson (20 // 13 // 12 // 14) // McKissic (1 // 4 // 3 // 7)
  • WAS RB targets: Gibson (5 // 2 // 2 // 2) // McKissic (1 // 6 // 2 // 5)
  • WAS RB total yds: Gibson (108, 73, 104, 75) // McKissic (8, 93, 38, 59)
  • McKissic & Heinicke each have two rush att inside-5 to Gibson’s one
  • The only RBs over just 20 rush yds vs NOR thus far are CMC & Saquon, and they still combined for just 124 yds on 37 att in 9 quarters
  • RBs to score 20+ DK pts vs NOR since 2018: Saquon (22, 29.6) // Latavius (20.5) // Zeke (25.6) // CMC (34.3, 22.8, 26, 24.7) // Mostert (24.9) // Dalvin (28.0) // Sanders (32.6) // Fournette (21.7)
  • That’s 12 RB scores of 20+ DK pts allowed in the last 57 games
  • 12/12 scored a TD /// 5/12 scored 2 TDs /// 9/12 had 5+ rec /// 12/12 had 6+ DK rec pts
  • Of the three without 5 rec, one had 82 yd TD, one caught a WR pass TD, one had 28 rush att, and all three scored 2 TDs
  • The two that have topped 20 DK pts in 2021 (CMC, Saquon) have combined for 3 TDs, 10 rec, 29.9 DK rec pts
  • Outside of Gibson’s 73 yd house call vs BUF, Gibson has just 7 rec for 34 yds