As the New Orleans Saints get set for a good ol’ Week 13 Texas Two-Step with the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football, they enter without their top RB once again as Alvin Kamara has been ruled out. With Mark Ingram set to take the starting role, could fantasy football managers turn to either Tony Jones Jr. or Ty Montgomery for some under-the-radar production, or is the floor for each player too significant a risk during this crucial stretch of the season?
Mark Ingram will be the Saints’ RB1 with Alvin Kamara out
For the fourth game in a row, New Orleans will be without their top playmaker. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Thursday the Saints have ruled Kamara out. The superstar RB continues to deal with a sprained MCL.
After recording limited practices this week, Kamara was initially listed as questionable. Nonetheless, the team opted for the cautious approach with their Pro Bowl running back. Kamara has rushed for 530 yards and 3 touchdowns in eight games with 32 catches for 310 yards and 4 additional scores.
Ingram, who was a midseason acquisition by the Saints, will once again be tasked with No. 1 responsibilities against the Cowboys. Ingram missed the team’s Thanksgiving Day game due to a knee injury. However, he’s been a welcome addition to fantasy lineups when on the field.
Since Week 10, Ingram has been the RB21 but the RB10 in per-game scoring at 18.1 PPR. Against the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles, Ingram rushed 30 times for 135 yards with 1 touchdown while hauling in 10 of 15 targets for 86 additional yards. Ingram comes into tonight as a back-half RB2. Simply put, we have yet to see how this offense will operate with Taysom Hill under center in 2021. The Saints will also be without their starting offensive tackles. Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead are out with knee injuries.
Tony Jones Jr. is a healthy scratch for Week 13
At the beginning of the season, Jones was one of the hotter sleeper names based on his preseason performances. With Latavius Murray off the team, Jones was poised for the RB2 role behind Kamara. In his two preseason games (Week 3 canceled due to Hurricane Ida), Jones rushed 12 times for 106 yards and 1 touchdown while recording 6 receptions (8 targets) for 42 yards.
Jones did see 11 carries in Week 1, which he turned into 50 yards. But he dropped off the fantasy radar quickly. He saw limited action in the following three games and then suffered an ankle injury, which cost him the next five contests (he was placed on the injured reserve).
Jones returned in Week 11 to a modest workload, playing on 15% of the offensive snaps (10) while receiving 3 carries for 2 yards. Yet, in Week 12, with both Kamara and Ingram out and facing a staunch Buffalo Bills defense, Jones saw a sizeable workload. It was a game where the Saints seemed utterly outmatched. Jones carried the ball 16 times while playing on 37% of the snaps (21) but recorded just 27 yards.
Jones appeared in line for backup duties. However, the Saints have ruled him inactive for Thursday Night Football as a healthy scratch. As a result, Montgomery will work as the Saints’ primary backup with an emphasis on the passing duties.
Ty Montgomery should see work in the receiving game, adding to his fantasy value
Of the two Saints backs last week, Montgomery was on the field more than Jones by a noticeable amount. With the Sants trailing the entire game, Montgomery played on 51% of the snaps (28), operating as the third-down/passing back. Where Jones saw carries, Montgomery had the receiving work. Montgomery was targeted 7 times, catching 5 passes for 31 yards and rushing 6 times for 14 yards.
It was no surprise both backs struggled on the ground. The Bills currently have the fourth-ranked defense vs. RBs, allowing just 20.55 fantasy points per game. But just looking at the opportunities, the receiving work Montgomery saw was far more valuable from a fantasy perspective.
Jones was the RB60 last week (2.7 points); Montgomery was the RB29 in PPR, scoring 9.5 fantasy points. In fact, he was just 0.3 fantasy points behind Trevor Siemian for highest-scoring player of the game, which is both sad and impressive at the same time.
This was by far the most usage Montgomery had seen in a game this season (3 targets in Week 4). In a game where the Saints could struggle or fall behind again, Montgomery could be called on for his pass-catching abilities.
Can Montgomery be trusted for fantasy football in Week 13?
There are two weeks left in the fantasy football season. The vast majority of leagues will begin their playoffs in Week 15. This means every single game and roster decision is critical. You want and need high-upside players who also bring the highest floor possible.
Initially, I would have just brushed this game off because both Jones and Montgomery would have capped each other’s chances of producing. But Jones listed as a healthy scratch does make Montgomery a bit more intriguing in PPR formats.
Now, don’t take that the wrong way. By no means am I saying Montgomery is a safe option or one that even needs to be started. His role does not change all that much with Jones out as he was never really in consideration for passing work. The issue, however, is with Hill at QB.
Targets decline with Hill under center
Last season as the starter Kamara watched his targets fall to just four per game with Hill under center. We would see a similar story happen to Montgomery who is nowhere near the same level of player.
This is not a traditional Thursday Night Football game where both teams come in on a short week. Both teams played on Thanksgiving, allowing a full week to prepare as if it was a Sunday-to-Sunday matchup.
But I still do not want to risk my fantasy team getting off to a poor start and needing to make a comeback because I started Montgomery. At best, you are hoping for a 5-for-60 performance out of him, but that’s not going to win you anything this week. At worst, he gets just a couple of looks and ends the day game with sub-30 total yards and scores just a handful of fantasy points. In my eyes, the potential juice is not worth the squeeze.