The veteran tight end caught the Panthers off guard in the first quarter with the first rushing touchdown of his career, an end-around on fourth down that opened the scoring. Fleener later added a more conventional 50-yard grab down the middle in the third quarter for his second visit to the end zone. The 28-year-old's involvement and production has fluctuated week-to-week so far this season, but he does encouragingly have three total touchdowns over the last three contests.
Fleener caught only two of his eight targets for 29 yards in Sunday's loss to the Giants.
Fleener was noticeably more involved in the offense in Week 2, but the results were nonetheless disappointing. In addition to be unable to secure some catchable passes from Drew Brees, Fleener also missed an opportunity for a touchdown when he inexplicably slowed down on his route on a seam pattern where Brees' pass ended up just out of his reach. The fact that Brees looked Fleener's way more often in Week 2 is encouraging, but it's clear that the talented tight end is not yet on the same page as his quarterback. Still, Fleener will be in play for fantasy owners in a favorable Week 3 tilt against a Falcons defense that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends in the season's first two weeks.
Fleener caught one of his four target for six yards in Sunday's season opening loss to the Raiders.
Fleener was more or less invisible for most of the game, despite the fact that he played on 56 of the Saints' 69 offensive snaps, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Perhaps his disappointing performance was merely the result of a game plan that emphasized attacking Oakland's slow-footed secondary downfield, as the Saints' speedy outside receivers frequently made plays deep, but Fleener's disappearing act certainly does not instill confidence in light of offseason reports that he was struggling to grasp the playbook. It's too early to panic on the talented tight end, but his owners will want to see make some plays in a favorable Week 2 tilt on the road against the Giants.
Fleener had a 31-yard gain wiped out by a holding penalty, but he also dropped another long pass after taking a hit from a defender. He played deep into the second quarter, even after Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead had all left the game. The
According to head coach Sean Payton, Fleener remains a "work in progress," reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. "I'd say it's an ongoing progression," Payton said of Fleener. "I think, man, there are some plays that are real good, and then there's some plays where we've gotta be a little more detailed. And that's something that I know he's gotta work on."
While Payton has been unabashed about his praise for rookie receiver Michael Thomas, he's been far more reserved when discussing Fleener throughout the summer. In fact, Fleener himself admits that he doesn't yet have all the intricacies of the playbook down as much as he would like yet. Fleener's struggles raise some red flags, as CJ Spiller similarly had difficulty grasping the playbook after coming to New Orleans last offseason and he struggled to see the field as a result. For fantasy owners, Fleener's comments are further frustrating, because the Saints' offense is one of the friendliest in the league for tight ends. Since Payton and Brees arrived in 2006, the Saints rank second in the NFL in tight end targets, behind only the Dallas Cowboys, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Last season, veteran tight end Benjamin Watson posted the best numbers of his 12-year career. Fleener should still be productive in his first season in New Orleans, even if he has to fight through the occasional mental flub, but fantasy owners should probably exercise some caution when drafting him, as it may take some time for Fleener to mesh with Brees in a new offense.
|7||10/23/16||@ KC||Lost 21-27|
|9||11/6/16||@ SF||4:05 pm|
|11||11/17/16||@ CAR||8:25 pm|
|14||12/11/16||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|15||12/18/16||@ ARI||4:05 pm|
|17||1/1/17||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||5||2||19||237||12.5||50||2||5||1||10|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||5||2||1||2||2.0||2||1||0||1|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||5||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
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