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New Orleans Saints March Scouting Report
Jake Pittman
3/21/2021

Quarterback:

We finally got our confirmation. Drew Brees has officially retired. It is the end of an era for the Saints, and their fans will always be grateful for what Brees has done for the franchise. But with the retirement of the future hall of famer, a new quarterback needs to take over the mantle. The Saints have options at this position, and they have almost confirmed that the position will come down to a camp battle between QB Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Hill was signed to a big extension, but it was more of a cap move for the front office. Hill’s deal allowed them to save money this season and transfer it into future seasons. The catch is that Hill’s contract can be voided with no cap penalty in the future, and the only way Hill gets to get that money is if he wins the starting job and performs well with it. I am projecting Jameis Winston to be the Saints starter for at least next season. Winston is a much better pocket passer and has experience running a pro-style offense, rather than a gimmickier offense that Hill would need to run. The fantasy implications of losing Brees and moving forward with Winston are not significant at all in my mind. Brees was obviously losing some of his arm strength and Winston still has a lot more left in the tank, even if he is far more inaccurate. Winston taking the starting job should not be a concern to any of the main skill players in New Orleans.

 

Running back:

Alvin Kamara is a top-end RB1 and he will be for as long as he is the healthy starter in New Orleans. There isn’t much more that needs to be said about him. Latavius Murray is a solid handcuff option and has proven his ability to be able to handle the load and be effective if Kamara has to miss any time.

In free agency, the Saints have made a couple moves to bolster their tailback depth. They re-signed RBs Dwayne Washington and Ty Montgomery to make sure the team has enough depth if Kamara or Murray ever have any injury problems. The Saints also signed former Panthers FB Alex Armah to a 1 year $1.13 million deal. The Saints have been well known for using full backs in gadget plays and short-yardage plays. This could potentially vulture touchdowns away from Kamara, but it’s not enough of a concern to damage his ADP in any way.

 

Wide Receiver:

Michael Thomas is just too talented to be held in check for an entire season like he was last year. I expect him to rebound, maybe not to his overall WR #1 season, but I expect him to be a WR1 next season. Trequan Smith now has the opportunity to step into a bigger role, but the Saint’s receiver room could see some big changes in the draft.

In free agency, the Saints made a big change at their WR2 position. The Saints decided to release Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders play on the field wasn’t the issue, but the Saints needed to make a couple moves like this to deal with their enormous cap hole. With the release of Sanders, I am expecting the Saints to take a wideout in the first three rounds. Since they pick so late in the first round, the top tier WRs probably won’t be available, but there are still some talented players that could make a splash for them as rookies.

 

 

Tight End:

The Saints officially let former TE Jared Cook walk and he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Saints also let TE Josh Hill walk as well. This leaves last year’s draft selection from Dayton, TE Adam Trautman, with some big shoes to fill in his second year in the league. Trautman was one of my favorite tight end prospects coming out of college and I think he will fill the role nicely for this new era of Saints football. I expect Trautman to be a very popular pick in dynasty leagues, and he should have opportunities to have a chance at finishing as a TE 1.

 

D/ST:

The Saints lost a big part of their defense during free agency when star DE Trey Hendrickson decided to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Saints also cut or lost CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Kwon Alexander and DL Sheldon Rankins. All of these moves were necessary for the Saints to get back under the salary cap, but it will be a bit of a downgrade for their fantasy production. Hendrickson was their sack leader last season, so his loss will be the most difficult for their defense to overcome, but I still project them to be a solid streaming option in plus matchups.

 

Draft Outlook:

The wide receiver position should be what fantasy players are looking out for come the 2021 NFL Draft. They will probably take one with their 1st, 2nd or 3rd round pick. Whoever they take will have the opportunity to compete for the #2 receiver spot behind Michael Thomas. The #2 spot for the Saints hasn’t had as much production in recent years as they have in the past. The Saints will also look to bolster their secondary and pass rushers. With the loss of all these defenders, I would expect them to take the top secondary player or edge rusher available in the first round.

 

Summary:

The Saints have once again made smart moves in the front office and got themselves out of a horrendous cap situation. They made cuts and let people go to find a way to get a competitive team on the field. The Saints won’t be expected to have as good of a team as they have the past couple of years, but they should still be able to compete for a playoff spot with Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill at the helm. Alvin Kamara will still be a staple at the top of fantasy football drafts, and I expect Michael Thomas to come back from his down season with consistent targets and production.

 

End.

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