New Orleans Saints February Scouting Report
2020 Recap and Overview:
The Saints began the season as a Super Bowl favorite and finished as the No. 2 Seed in the NFC only behind QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Saints had a very interesting season which saw Taysom Hill take real snaps at the QB position, WR Michael Thomas, who led the league in receptions and yards only a year ago, deal with lingering injuries and off the field issues all year, all while star RB Alvin Kamara found a way to score 6 TD in a single game. The Saints season came to a disappointing finish as this year’s Super Bowl Champs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knocked them out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round. The outlook for the 2021-2022 season is troubling for Saints fans as the retirement of QB Drew Brees and cap space issues loom over them. That being said, the Saints still have a lot of explosive weapons and a solid backbone to their roster. This season will be very interesting for Saint’s fans and fantasy football fans alike.
This is not only the biggest position in question for the Saint’s roster, but it is also one of the biggest question marks in the entire league. Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees has had rumors about his retirement circulating for a few years now, and this is the season that many people around think it will finally come to fruition. You could see it pretty clearly that Brees’ arm strength and release velocity has deteriorated significantly last season, so even if he does return, I don’t believe he is the same player that we have seen for the past 2 decades. Brees did renegotiate his contract to reduce his salary to the veteran minimum, this makes me believe that he will announce his retirement in the near future. If Brees does decide to retire, then the question that Saint’s front office has to answer is, who will be his successor? The Saints have 4 real options. They can decide to give the job to one of the current QBs on their roster which are Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. They can also draft a QB or sign one in free agency. My prediction is that the Saints will have a camp battle between Winston and Hill to decide who will be the starter for at least the 2021 season. I believe that Winston is a better option as he is more of a pure pocket passer than Hill, who is known more for his athletic ability and prowess in gadget plays. If Winston does end up being the starter then I believe the fantasy weapons around him will not suffer any large setbacks at all. Winston and Brees have similar arm talent at this stage in their careers, and they difference in total fantasy output shouldn’t be that much different than last season. If Hill does take hold of the QB position, it could be a very bad sign for RB Alvin Kamara. During Hill’s starts last year, Kamara had some of his worst fantasy games of his entire career since Hill would rather tuck the ball and run rather than dump it off to Kamara out of the backfield. So, whether it’s Brees, Winston, Hill or a free agent/rookie this position group is one that the entire NFL will have their eyes on this off-season.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Alvin Kamara is one of the best runningbacks in the entire league. He has outstanding balance, a phenomenal strength and speed combo and he is an elite pass catcher. If Brees or Winston ends up being the starter at QB, Kamara will be a locked and loaded RB1 just as he has ever since he’s been a rookie. If Taysom Hill ends up with the starting QB job, there will be some questions regarding his pass catching work and his goal line opportunities. Regardless of the QB position, I have a hard time imagining Kamara slipping out of the first round in any fantasy drafts this season. Behind Kamara, RB Latavius Murray is one of the most trustworthy second options in the league. He should be one of the top drafted handcuffs in all of fantasy, and he has proven that if Kamara has to miss any time he can step into the role and produce in a big way for fantasy managers.
The 2019 season’s leader in receptions and yards, Michael Thomas, had a brutal season in 2020. He began the season by missing a large chunk of games with nagging injuries. He will be a very interesting player to follow when it comes to ADP this season, since even when he was on the field last season, he more than often underperformed. I imagine that he will still be drafted near the middle of the second round of fantasy drafts. I think that WRs Deandre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs will all be drafted ahead of him, and he will be lumped into the second tier of receivers with the likes of Keenan Allen, DK Metcalf, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and AJ Brown. Behind Thomas, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Trequan Smith have proven to be able to contribute. Sanders is someone who could offer value in fantasy drafts towards the end of the draft, while Smith doesn’t project to have a large enough target share to be a real contributor when it comes to fantasy numbers. The Saints are one of the teams that could be looking to add another pass catcher in this year’s draft. Players like Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman and Terrace Marshall Jr. are all players that could get a look from the Saints in this year’s draft.
Jared Cook had another productive season with the Saints, but he has been showing some major problems with drops and fumbles. He is also a pending free agent and the Saints have a very unfavorable cap situation, this could lead to last year’s draft pick TE Adam Trautman stepping into a role as the starting TE for the Saint’s. Trautman was one of many analysts favorite young TE’s to stash in dynasty along with Eagle’s TE Dallas Goedert. If Trautman were to step into the role as a starter, he would be a very interesting late round TE for fantasy managers to target if they don’t get one of the studs at the top of the draft.
Kicker and D/ST:
The Saints defense has been one of the most consistent in fantasy over the past couple of years. Star players like CB Marshon Lattimore, DE Cameron Jordan and LB Demario Davis have made this defense very hard to get through. The Saints D/ST still projects to be a top 10 defense next season and should be a perfect option in favorable matchups. Will Lutz has also been a phenomenal option at kicker for fantasy players. He consistently makes his routine kicks and since he’s attached to a top end offense he should have plenty of opportunities to continue knocking in field goals.
Free Agency and Draft Outlook:
The major team needs for the Saints are WR, CB, and EDGE. The Saints have very little cap space so I wouldn’t expect them to make any big splashes in free agency. I expect them to save some money by cutting CB Janoris Jenkins, but even with some strategic cuts and restructuring there just isn’t enough money to sign big name players. I expect them to target one of these big needs in the first 3 rounds of the draft. The WRs that they will most likely be targeting are Rondale Moore from Purdue, Rashod Bateman from Minnesota and Terrace Marshall Jr. from LSU. All of these players would offer them an outstanding weapon on the outside, while also not costing them as much money as signing a big name free agent like WR Allen Robinson. At CB players like Shaun Wade from Ohio State, Paulson Adebo from Stanford or Eric Stokes from Georgia would all be solid players to line up opposite of Marshon Lattimore. At Edge Rusher Texas OLB Joseph Addai has been linked to the Saints in a lot of mock drafts and analyst overviews. Outside of these major needs, if the Saints front office falls in love with a QB they could end up selecting one of the top young signal callers at the beginning of the draft that they can mold into becoming the eventual successor for Drew Brees.
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