News & Analysis

Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Saints' Christmas Day win over the Vikings

Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football championship weekend started a day early with a Christmas Day matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints.

It was an NFC battle between the top-two fantasy backs of the season to this point, but Alvin Kamara potentially locked up the top spot for the season and left plenty of fantasy managers feeling great about their odds of bringing home a title.

As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Minnesota Vikings New Orleans Saints
WR WR
Justin Jefferson – 58 snaps Marquez Callaway – 42 snaps
Adam Thielen – 56 snaps Emmanuel Sanders – 38 snaps
Chad Beebe – 23 snaps Juwan Johnson – 23 snaps
Olabisi Johnson – 11 snaps Austin Carr – 21 snaps
Lil'Jordan Humphrey – 16 snaps
TE TE
Irv Smith Jr. – 56 snaps Adam Trautman – 52 snaps
Tyler Conklin – 55 snaps Jared Cook – 40 snaps
Josh Hill – 1 snap
HB HB
Dalvin Cook – 37 snaps Alvin Kamara – 45 snaps
Ameer Abdullah – 11 snaps Latavius Murray – 29 snaps
Mike Boone – 3 snaps Ty Montgomery – 16 snaps
Total – 64 snaps Total – 75 snaps

Winner: RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Kamara exploded with a career game on the ground. He put together the first six-rushing-touchdown game since 1929 and the first four-plus-rushing-touchdown game of the 2020 season.

He gained a career-high 155 rushing yards on a career-high 22 carries on top of tying the single-game rushing touchdown record. He also caught three passes in the passing game, bringing him to a career-high 83 receptions for the season.

If you started Kamara, then you should be figuring out where to put your fantasy championship trophy.

Dynasty Watch: TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

Smith has been given the opportunity to show he can be an every-down tight end for the Vikings in recent weeks while Kyle Rudolph misses time with injury. The second-year tight end put up the best fantasy performance of his career today, with six catches on nine targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns. And most of that work came before garbage time.

Smith has the potential to be a late-round draft pick in 2021 fantasy drafts if Rudolph is no longer on the team. His lack of consistency in previous games makes it hard to trust him on a week-to-week basis if Rudolph is still on the roster and healthy.

Injury Replacement: WR Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints

New Orleans' top wide receiver Michael Thomas recently landed on injured reserve, and No. 2 wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith was inactive with an ankle injury. Callaway entered the starting lineup but ended with just three catches for 26 yards.

The Saints used a heavy rotation of players for the third wide receiver spot, as well as frequently subbing out their two starters. Ty Montgomery has mostly lined up as a running back for the Saints when he’s been used, but today they used him exclusively at slot receiver.

While several players benefited with increased playing time, Emmanuel Sanders was the only receiver to make a dent on the stat sheet. He caught four of the five passes thrown his way for 83 yards. This was his third-best game in terms of receiving yards while in a Saints uniform and his best in over two months.

Potential Injury: TE Josh Hill, New Orleans Saints

Hill played one offensive snap before leaving the game early. He reportedly left for the locker room during the first half, and he didn’t return.

Hill has mostly been used in two- and three-TE sets in recent weeks. With Hill out, Jared Cook played more snaps in 12 personnel than usual, with Rookie Adam Trautman then taking snaps from Cook in 11 personnel.

Trautman played more snaps and ran more routes, but Cook was the bigger factor in the passing game. He finished second for the Saints in receiving yards (82) after catching three of the four passes thrown his way. Trautman caught two passes for 45 yards, with most of his yards coming in garbage time.

Cook will be 34 next season and is an unrestricted free agent in March. We might see Trautman and Hill as the two tight ends for New Orleans next season.

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