NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the New Orleans Saints roster for fantasy football. Their offseason went well, as they retained Drew Brees, LG Andrus Peat, DT David Onyemata, CB Janoris Jenkins, QB Taysom Hill and acquired S Malcolm Jenkins and WR Emmanuel Sanders. They lost backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, S Vonn Bell and LB A.J. Klein, but overall, they’ve set themselves up for another strong season.
Starter: Drew Brees
Backups: Taysom Hill
Drew Brees is getting a bit long in the tooth, but he still put up good fantasy numbers when not injured, as he was QB7 in fantasy points per game, throwing for 27 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 10 games. In his final four games of the regular season, he threw for 15 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Taysom Hill will act as the backup, but continue to be used in a variety of ways. Taking Drew Brees off the field doesn’t seem like the best use of resources but Hill has proven to be an asset more often than not. It would be interesting to see what he would do as the starter, as he has many ways of gaining fantasy points, but unless Brees gets hurt, he’ll only have limited value as a gadget player.
Starter: Alvin Kamara
Backups: Latavius Murray
Kamara had his worst fantasy season to date last year, but did finish as RB8 in fantasy points per game. He ended up playing 14 games, missing two due to a high-ankle sprain, but probably should have taken more time to heal, as it took him a long time to get his explosion back. He ended the season strong and should be ready to bounceback in 2020 without much trouble.
Latavius Murray played well las season, totaling 180 touches for 872 yards and six touchdowns. He got a big chunk of those yards and touchdowns in just two games that Kamara missed, which is another reason they probably should have given Kamara another week of rest. But, when Kamara was playing, Murray never saw over 10 carries or 12 touches in a single game and only scored two touchdowns. He doesn’t have any real value in the majority of leagues while Kamara is healthy, but remains an elite handcuff.
Starters: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith
Backups: Emmanuel Butler, Deonte Harris, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tim White
The rich get richer, as the Saints bring in Emmanuel Sanders to take some pressure off of Michael Thomas, who broke the receptions record last season with ease. We know what we have in Thomas and even with Sanders there to take away some targets, he’ll still be a PPR stud and No. 1 receiver off the board in fantasy drafts.
Sanders will be a year removed from an Achilles injury that he returned from much better than many players have. His upside will be limited with Thomas, Kamara and Cook to compete for targets, but he looked good enough last season to believe he’ll force Brees to get him looks due to his play.
Starter: Jared Cook
Backups: Josh Hill, Garrett Griffin
Cook finished as TE10 last season despite missing two games and starting extremely slowly Weeks 1-4. Getting on the same page of Brees in a new offense probably hurt his stats to start. If you extrapolate his stats from his 10 games after the first month to 16, he’d have 56 receptions for 984 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to his 43 receptions for 705 yards and nine touchdowns he did have in 2019. Unfortunately, Sanders presence will hurt, but with a stronger start and healthy season, he should still be a Top-10 tight end and useful fantasy player.