This will be Part 2 of a two-part series where I break down the New Orleans Saints you should have on your radar entering your fantasy football draft. Because I’m a fan of alliteration, I’ve created groups known as Stars, Steals, Sleepers, and Stay the #$%@ Away. In each Part, I will give you one player in each category from the Saints. First, definitions of each group:
Star – The upper echelon of fantasy performers. Elite across all positions.
Steal – Undervalued on fantasy ranking boards.
Sleepers – High risk, high reward type player.
Stay the #$%@ Away – Overvalued or high potential to be a dud.
Star – WR Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas just keeps getting better. In 2017, Thomas caught four fewer touchdowns than his rookie year, but saw increases in his receptions and yards. And in 2018, he could be even better.
There are a lot of question marks surrounding the rest of the receiving corps in New Orleans this year. Ted Ginn Jr.will be entering his 12th season. Tre’Quan Smith will be entering his first. And Cameron Meredith will be playing in his first games in over a year. Coby Fleener is gone. Willie Snead is gone. Alvin Kamara might be used more in the running game, taking away his reps in passing situations. That just opens Thomas up for a bazillion targets in 2018. And with the Saints lacking many redzone options, he should also see a huge uptick in his touchdowns from last year.
Draft Thomas confidently in the backend of the first round/early second.
Steal – RB Mark Ingram
When the news came out of Mark Ingram’s suspension for the first four games of 2018, he started tumbling down draft boards. People are afraid that he could take a similar path to Willie Snead from the year before, and never find his groove after the suspension. There are others still who anticipate Kamara taking the lead job and running with it (no pun intended), leaving Ingram has the primary back-up for 2018.
Don’t buy it.
When Ingram returns, he will likely slot right back into his role with the Saints from 2017, and could be an absolute steal in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
Sleeper – Cameron Meredith
Of all of the Wide Receivers on the Saints who could be the biggest star alongside Michael Thomas, my money is on former Chicago Bear Cameron Meredith. Meredith was able to pull in 66 receptions in only 14 games in 2016 for 888 yards. We’ve seen Brees support two 1,000 receivers before (as recently as 2016 with Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas), and if there’s a chance of it happening again, grab Meredith in the final rounds of your 2018 fantasy drafts.
Stay the #$%@ Away – TE Benjamin Watson
In Watson’s final year of his first stint in New Orleans, he put up career bests in yards (825) and touchdowns (6). Could he do it again in 2018? Sure, it’s possible, but he’s entering his age 38 season. Tony Gonzalez put up 859 yards and 8 TDs in his final year in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, but even that was his age 37 season. Another way to put it into perspective: Jason Witten just announced his retirement at age 36. Expecting Watson to be a fantasy asset for your team in 2018 is likely putting too high of hopes on the veteran.