New Orleans Saints Team Outlook
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Saints Offense Outlook
The Saints won a lot of games last year, which helped their rushing attempts and rushing TDs. At the same time, they regressed for the second straight year in passing yards and passing attempts. Their defense is improved, and they did a pass catching TE of value. A Fantasy owner can expect a dynamic run game with plenty of production in TDs.
Fair Evaluation: The key to the rebound of Brees as a passer will come with the development of his secondary WRs. He has an elite passing catching back, a stud WR1, and TE with upside in the passing game. If he finds a fourth option at WR, his passing attempts will push back to above the league average. Either way, his starting point for me in 2019 is about 4,200 passing yards with 30 TDs.
It was interesting to see Brees attempted his lower number of passes (489) since 2004, with regression in his completions (364) for the second straight year. He set a career high in completion rate (74.4) helped by high number catches (108) and attempts (143) to the RB position. Drew finished with 3,992 passing yards and 32 TDs, which was well below his expected value and results from the previous six years (5,141 passing yards and 38 passing TDs per year) before 2017.
Brees passed for over 300 yards in six games with seven games with three TDs or more. Over his last four games of the year, Drew only had three passing TDs. The bottom line here is that Brees continues to have regression in his opportunity in the passing due to growth in the run game, especially in TDs (26).
Last year season Drew passed both Peyton Manning and Brett Favre in career passing yards while hoping to hold off Tom Brady in his career to be the top passing QB in NFL history. He enters 2019 in a tight battle with Brady in career TDs (520 and 517) with Brett Favre (539) expecting to concede the number one spot at some point this year. The structure of the offensive in New Orleans changed in a big way over the last couple of seasons with the emergence of Alvin Kamara and improvement in the run game.
Other Options: Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill, J.T. Barrett
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Fair Evaluation: If the Saints find their rhythm in the passing game, Alvin will regain his big-play ability while offering more upside in TDs and yards.
With Mark Ingram suspended for four games, Kamara busted out of the gates with 611 combined yards with six TDs and 35 catches with exceptional value in the passing game (35/336/1). Over his last 12 games, Kamara never rushed for over 90 yards in any games while also losing his explosiveness in the passing game (under 50 yards receiving in 11 contests). On the year, he gained over 100 combined yards in seven games while averaging 18.3 touches per game. His value in the passing game remains high (81/709/4) while falling short of expectation in the run game (194/883/14). In his two years in the NFL, Alvin has 31 TDs in 31 games.
New Orleans will rotate in a second back on early downs plus run those gimmick plays with Taysom Hill at the league line. At a minimum, Kamara will see growth in his opportunity by ten percent. His starting point for me in 2019 is 300+ touches for 1,900 combined yards with a run at 20+ TDs and 90+ catches.
Fair Evaluation: Worth a handcuff play for Kamara owners, but his draft gap has to be wide enough to avoid missing out on a more talented RB3 option. Murray currently has an ADP of 104, which is too high for my expected projections.
Last year the Saints’ RB gained 2,705 combined yards with 26 TDs and 108 catches on 501 touches. Murray will get between 125 and 175 touches, but he will not become the new version of Mark Ingram. Latavius is a big back (6’3” and 230 lbs.) who delivered about 820 rushing yards and eight TDs over the last four seasons while offering some value in the passing game (111/740). Over this span, Murray averaged only 4.0 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per catch.
Over the last two seasons with Alvin Kamara on the Saints’ roster, Mark Ingram averaged 16.2 touches per game. Latavius will catch some balls and steal rushing TDs, but his upside can’t be much more than 12 touches per game. I’ll set his bar at 750 combined yards with six to eight TDs with a chance at 30+ catches.
From Twitter: Latavius Murray has the 2nd most rushing touchdowns (32) in the NFL since 2015, only behind Todd Gurley (46)
Other Options: Dwayne Washington, Javorius Allen, Devine Ozigbo, Matt Dayes
Fair Evaluation: Stud of studs with a huge floor and higher ceiling. I expect 120+ catches for 1,500+ yards and a possible dozen TDs. Michael will be drafted in the middle of the first-round in PPR leagues as top five WR.
Over three seasons in the NFL, Thomas improved in each year (92/1137/9, 104/1245/5, and 125/1405/9). His most impressive stat in 2018 was his amazing catch rate (85.0). He led the NFL in catches (125) while ranking 9th in WR targets (147). Michael had ten catches or more in six games, but he also had between four and five catches in seven other games. His success last year led to him finishing 6th in WR scoring in PPR leagues. Over 47 games in his NFL career, Thomas averaged about 17.7 Fantasy points per game with a push to 19.84 in 2018. Volume WR who would be helped by an increase in passing attempts by the Saints.
Fair Evaluation: Pretty much a similar player as Tre’Quan Smith with his experience and speed giving him the early track to prove his worth.
Ginn struggled to stay healthy in 2018 due to right knee injury that required surgery in mid-October. His season started with three steady games (5/68/1, 4/55, and 3/12/1). After returning from a ten-game injury vacation, Ted caught 11 passes for 176 yards on 21 targets in his three games late in the year. Over the two previous years, Ginn had serviceable value (54/752/4 and 53/787/4). At age 34, his days of improvement look to be over, especially while adding in his knee issue.
Fair Evaluation: Possible tough ride while adding flash value in some matchups. Worth a flier as WR6 in PPR leagues.
In his rookie season, Smith caught 28 of his 44 targets for 427 yards and five TDs. He showed explosiveness in two games (3/111/2 and 10/157/1) with both games coming at home. The Saints gave him seven starts, but he caught one pass or fewer in four contests. Overall, Tre’Quan had three catches or fewer in 14 games while only having one game with over six targets.
His route running and strength limit his value early in his career. Smith shows a willingness to block in the run game with the wheels and skill set to be a deep threat in the passing game out of the box. Tre’quan won’t beat top physical corners off the line in press coverage. In his junior season at American, Smith caught 59 balls for 1,171 yards and 13 TDs, which led to New Orleans drafting him in the third round in 2018.
With Ted Ginn still on the roster, Tre’Quan will work as the WR3 in the Saints’ offense. His next step is a push for 50+ catches with 750+ yards and some value in TDs.
Other Options: Keith Kirkwood, Austin Carr, Simmie Cobbs, Rishard Matthews, Emmanuel Butler
Fair Evaluation: I’m going to start with 65 catches for 800 yards with six to eight TDs, which places him as a top-six TE in 2019.
At age 31, Cook had the best season of his career (68/896/6 on 101 targets). He finished with four impact games (9/180, 8/110/2, 7/100/1, and 7/116) plus one other solid game (4/74/1). His success led to him finishing 5th in TE scoring in PPR leagues. Even with his success, Jared posted five games with six Fantasy points or fewer (4/20, 2/10, 2/23, 2/20, and 3/28). Last year TEs in New Orleans caught 63 passes for 735 yards and four TDs on 86 targets. Based on the receiving structure for the Saints, Cook should rank as the number three options in the passing game behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Other Options: Josh Hill, Dan Arnold, Garrett Griffin, Alize Mack
Fair Evaluation: Wil should be considered a top five scoring option. They should get over 80 scoring chances a year, but the ability to score rushing TDs in the red zone does lead to many games with just extra points.
In his first three seasons in the NFL, Lutz made 87 of 100 field goals (88.0 percent) plus 148 of his 153 extra points. New Orleans gave him 15 chances from 50 yards or longer leading to nine made kicks. He ranked ninth in kicker scoring in 2016, eighth in 2017, and fourth in 2018. In 2018, he made 93.3 percent of his field goal chances. The Saints scored 60 TDs with 30 field goal chances last year.
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