Team Preview: New Orleans Saints
Continuing in the NFC South on our 32-Team Preview tour, we head to the Bayou and the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints scored the 5th most points in 2020 while throwing for the 19th most passing yards. They were 6th in rushing yards on their way to a 12-4 record. Vegas has them winning 9 games.
Jameis Winston: He may not be the best QB at winning games, but we know he can put up fantasy points, as he showed in 2019 finishing as the QB5. The problem I have with Jameis is, even if he is the starter, how much is Taysom Hill involved? FantasyData has Winston projected to throw for 4,000 yards and 26 TDs. Essentially a near full-time role. However, Mike Clay at ESPN has Jameis throwing for just under 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns in much more of a committee role. My opinion is, Jameis will be the main guy between the 20s, but that Hill will steal a decent amount of the valuable snaps inside the Red Zone and 5-yard line which will limit the chances of Winson finishing as a QB1. Because of the uncertainty, I have Jameis finishing as no better than a back-end QB2.
SUPERFLEX RANKINGS ADDED TO THE 2021 DRAFT GUIDE. GET YOUR NOW!
Alvin Kamara: The RB1 from 2020 finds himself in a much different position in 2021. No longer can he rely on the consistent check-downs from Drew Brees. We can only hope it's Jameis under center because things were not pretty for Kamara last year with Taysom at QB. He was held to 3 or fewer targets in 3 of the 4 games with Taysom. For a back like Kamara to be elite, he needs those targets. If it is Jameis, we still have to temper expectations, because we know Jameis won't check down as much as Brees did either. The team may try to run the ball more in a post-Brees era, but that's not what makes Kamara so special. It's his high reception totals that are key. For now, I have Kamara as a mid-range RB1, but I think it will be difficult for him to finish as a Top 5 RB.
Michael Thomas: MT's first 4 years in the league were magical culminating with a record-setting season in 2019. 2020 was a much different story. A week 1 ankle injury limited Thomas to just 7 games, and he was obviously hampered by the injury when he did play. The good news for 2021 is that he should be fully healthy, and while he did lose a future HOF QB, he now gets one that will likely target him further down the field. We saw Chris Godwin finish as the WR2 in 2019 with Jameis under center, and I wouldn't be surprised if he can do the same for Thomas. He has serious positive TD regression given that he didn't score any in 2020. I like Mike as a mid-back end WR1 in 2021.
Latavius Murray / Tre'Quan Smith / Adam Trautman: I don't have very high expectations for any players outside of Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas on this team. Murray will likely steal a few goal line carries and have one or two games, but you won't be able to count on him. I don't see Smith finishing in the Top 75 WRs. I like Trautman a little bit as a back-end TE2.