This will be Part 1 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 – RB Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara is going in the Top 5 of most fantasy football drafts. Kamara scored at an incredible rate in 2018, rushing for 14 touchdowns and catching 4 more while splitting time with Mark Ingram (who had 7 combined touchdowns himself) for the majority of the season.
Even if Kamara’s touchdown rate were to drop from last year, his total number of touchdowns could stay the same - or even possibly increase - in 2019. With Ingram now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, the New Orleans Saints offense could ask for even more from Kamara, both in the run and pass games.
If you’re picking in the top four of your fantasy draft, it’s essential to grab one of the top running backs off the board. With Ezekiel Elliott still in the thick of his holdout for a new contract with the Dallas Cowboys, Kamara could easily be viewed as a top 3 fantasy selection this year. Build your team around Kamara with confidence.
Steal – QB Drew Brees
While it’s possible Kamara’s touchdowns drop in 2019, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Drew Brees’s numbers actually improve from 2019. In 2018, Brees set an NFL record for completion percentage while leading the league in rating for the second time in his career. Still, he finished the season with less than 4,000 (3,992) passing yards for the first time in his career in New Orleans.
Part of the reason Brees couldn’t eclipse 4,000 was the fact that Brees was rested for the final game of the season. You can never bank on having a first round bye locked up like that, so the safer assumption is for Brees, even in his age 40 season, to play in all 16 games.
The other reason Brees didn’t put up Brees-like numbers last year was a fundamental lack of receiving options behind Kamara and Michael Thomas for the majority of the year. Coming into 2019, the Saints have added Jared Cook as an elite pass-catching option at tight end, so look for Brees to sling the ball more like his 2016 self. With consensus ADP rankings placing Brees 81st overall, he’s a solid steal to snag if you’re grabbing him behind Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons (going 72nd overall).
Sleeper – Saints DST
Gone are the days of the New Orleans Saints defense putting up historically awful numbers. In 2018, the Saints young defense continued to show tons of promise in the secondary with Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore and midseason acquisition Eli Apple.
Cameron Jordan was a one-man wrecking crew on the defensive line and rookie Marcus Davenport showed flashes of brilliance behind a sheen of unpolished potential. Now that Demario Davis has come in and anchored the middle of the Saints defense, this unit is solid from top to bottom.
With consensus ADP showing the Saints D/ST going off the board around 175th overall, they could very well be a fantasy sleeper if the near-turnovers from last year result in more caught interceptions and recovered fumbles in 2019.
Stay the #$%@ Away – RB Latavius Murray
Considering the Saints were able to produce two fantasy-starter level running backs in 2019 after Mark Ingram returned from his early suspension, it might be temping to select Latavius Murray with a late round pick (91st overall ADP). This isn’t a backfield where everyone is waiting for the cream to rise to the top. Everyone in the world knows this is Alvin Kamara’s offense in the running game (and a significant share of the passing game too). While Ingram was viewed as a “1b” - or at least “2” - to Kamara’s “1a,” view Murray as something more like 4c.
If you’re looking to take a flier on a late-round running back, grab someone like Jerick McKinnon from San Francisco (ADP 107th overall) with the hopes you have found a lion’s share starter instead of Murray, who at best will be a role player in the New Orleans offense.