The New Orleans Saints have used their 1st round draft pick on Michigan center Cesar Ruiz. While Ruiz will not be selected himself in any fantasy drafts this year, he still improves the fantasy outlook of nearly everyone on the Saints offense. The pick comes as a surprise to some who may have expected the Saints to improve their defense, but it seems like this was always the plan for Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis.
People trying to read between the lines and solve the mystery of the Saints draft. Meanwhile, Sean Payton straight up telling us the plan. pic.twitter.com/9OBGZCav9N— Wallace Delery (@WallaceDelery) April 24, 2020
Ruiz will start on the interior at either Guard or Center depending on what the Saints decide to do with last years top draft pick Erik McCoy, but either way it improves a Saints offensive line that had four players on either the Pro Bowl or All-Pro rosters last year.
The Ground Game
The most obvious fantasy beneficiary from this selection is Alvin Kamara. Ruiz offers an upgrade over Larry Warford on the interior and should result in greater opportunities for Kamara and Latavius Murray. Kamara should still be a top 8 RB and the pick of Ruiz could even move him up into the top 6. However, I do not think the pick is significant enough to move Kamara’s ADP up into the top 3 at his position, especially with the Giants and Titans also drafting offensive linemen to improve Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry’s prospects. For Murray however, I do believe this pick can move his ADP up slightly.
Murray is currently projected as the RB36, near players such as Sony Michel and Phillip Lindsay. The Ruiz pick should bump him up a few slots between RB30-RB33 in my opinion, closer to quality backups such as Kareem Hunt and Tarik Cohen. I would not draft him to start in any league that has less than 10 teams, but Murray could be a premier handcuff/bye relief option that is worth a late draft pick and a spot on your bench.
The Passing Game
Saints players in the passing game should also see a boost in scoring. Ruiz allowed only 3 sacks in 995 career pass blocking situations and was undoubtedly the best pass blocking interior lineman in the draft. Drew Brees will be the primary beneficiary of Ruiz’s presence as he should face less pressure and take less sacks. Brees currently projects as the QB11, ahead of Matthew Stafford and behind Carson Wentz. This pick should bump him up into the top 10, especially with Wentz’s injury troubles the last few seasons.
Brees was already the QB4 in terms of points per game last season, and now with players like Emmanuel Sanders and Ruiz joining the mix, the only thing holding him back is age.
I would project Brees to finish at least in the top 8 in QB scoring, in the same range as Tom Brady and Kyler Murray, and could even finish ahead of those players if their new offenses are not as productive as they’re projecting to be.
Michael Thomas is still the obvious WR1, and Emmanuel Sanders should move into the top 40 if Brees stays healthy. Jared Cook should also receive a slight boost if Ruiz is able to create more time for Brees. Cook is currently projected as the TE8 but I would not move him up ahead of players like Darren Waller or Tyler Higbee just yet.
Day 2 of the NFL Draft will provide more insight as to what the Saints offense will look like in 2020. There are still plenty of WRs available for the Saints in round 3 or to even trade up for in round 2 that could add some fantasy prospects to the team.
Right now though, Cesar Ruiz should slightly improve the outlook of every player on the Saints offense. If you would like to learn more about the newest Saints, his full draft profile can be found here.