The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the New Orleans Saints.
Were Alvin Kamara’s struggles to find the end zone (six total TDs) in 2019 a fluke or a bigger worry with all the mouths to feed in New Orleans?
Matt: No worries here. Kamara himself admitted that he was only 75 percent healthy last year while dealing with lower-body injuries. That’s the reason we didn’t see him in full form. In his first two seasons, Kamara racked up 31 rushing/receiving touchdowns, scoring on 6.5% of his touches. Last year, he found the end zone on just 2.3% of his total touches. That will normalize in a still-high-powered offense in 2020. Don’t forget that when Kamara was healthy early in the season, Latavius Murray was not a factor with just 30 touches in the first five weeks. Kamara is a feature back and has RB1 overall upside.
Scott: Kamara was playing hurt and stone-unlucky in the touchdown category. But let’s focus on what he actually did accomplish in this down season; he ranked ninth among running backs in PPR output per game, and dressed in 14 of 16 starts. Pretty darn good for an off year. Kamara brings both upside and floor in the first half of the first round. Approved for all use.
Andy: Without question, the biggest factor in Kamara’s (moderately) disappointing season was the ankle injury he suffered in October. He was considerably more explosive and efficient in the weeks before he went down, particularly as a receiver (4.6 YPC, 9.3 Y/R). Kamara will enter 2020 at full health, which is all you should need to know. He remains an easy first-round fantasy option, a lock to catch 80-plus passes and gain 1,500 scrimmage yards.
If your fantasy decision-making process somehow leads you to avoid a 250-touch playmaker on an elite offense because you’re worried his team has too many good players, then you probably have a messed up draft board. The Saints were the third highest-scoring team in the NFL last season (28.6 PPG), and they’ve finished top-four in each of the past four years. We want high-volume backs tied to offenses like this.
What percentage chance do you give Michael Thomas finishing anything less than the top-scoring WR?
Andy: Eighty-five? Ninety? You should basically always take the field in discussions like this. Let’s not get hung up on whether any particular player is going to finish No. 1 at any position. Thomas might very well have another record-breaking year, yet still be outscored by someone like Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins or Julio Jones. No shame in that. The reason we’re drafting Thomas ahead of all other receivers is that there is almost zero chance he’s going to bust. Thomas has never finished outside the top-10 fantasy wideouts. In his first NFL season, he caught 92 balls for 1,137 yards. He’s as good as it gets.
Scott: Andy’s right on the money. The field is the way to bet. That said, let’s forget the preposterous notion that Thomas becomes a bust if he doesn’t return “first-round value.” You want a foundational brick at his draft slot, and that’s what you’ll get. His upside is WR1 again, his downside is every-week, no-doubt starter. The Saints offer more continuity than any team in the league. This is the safest area to park.
Matt: 80 percent. We should rarely expect a player to consistently finish at the peak of their position year-after-year. Thomas wasn’t viewed as a consensus top-three receiver last year but found his way to the top spot due to a confluence of events. Someone else could find themselves in that position this year and be the one to push for 180-plus targets, clearing the path the WR1 overall spot. Give me Davante Adams as that player over Thomas in 2020.
Is age-41 the year Father Time catches up with Drew Brees, or do you buy another top-10 QB finish?
Scott: I lean against a top-10 finish, because the position is so deep, the age is mildly concerning, and Sean Payton seems to have an unbreakable crush on Taysom Hill. It’s not that I don’t like Brees, or trust him. But the quarterback pool is so deep, why draft anyone you’re not totally enamored with? The younger options have more tantalizing upside.
Matt: Brees would have found himself in the top-10 for yet another year had he played 16 contests in 2019, ranking seventh in points per game. The Saints offense remains loaded with two superstars in Thomas and Kamara and even added a strong veteran route runner in Emmanuel Sanders. The pathway to another efficient season remains as clean as ever for Drew Brees, even if his own individual skills might be slightly diminished.
Andy: If he hadn’t missed five games last season, it would have been his 16th straight year as a top-10 fantasy QB. I’m not about to bet against him. He’s at the controls of a loaded offense, likely to again average 28-30 points per week. Brees averaged 270.8 YPG last year and threw 27 TD passes in only 11 games. He also produced a career-best passer rating of 116.3. If you’re a believer in Thomas, Kamara, and offseason addition Emmanuel Sanders, then you’d better believe in Brees.
Andy: Is it considered a #HotTaek to say that Taysom Hill should only have eligibility at the position at which the Saints actually list him? Maybe it is. Hill does a lot of different things for New Orleans, no doubt. Last season he threw six passes, carried the ball 27 times, and caught 19 balls. He’s a fun, gadgety player. He’s also not exactly alone as a multi-purpose weapon. Hill certainly isn’t the one guy in the league who lines up all over the formation.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of creating an eligibility exception that A) doesn’t follow any specific set of rules, B) we won’t apply to other multi-use players and C) creates the possibility of a scenario in which a guy with TE or RB eligibility is actually playing quarterback. It sure seems like it would be disruptive to fair play in fantasy if Hill began to see full-time (or even part-time) snaps at QB, following a Brees injury.
Anyway, you guys are lucky that I have no control or influence over fantasy rules around here. We’d be flexing kickers and awarding points for first-downs and ... well, it would be chaos.
OVER/UNDER on 10.5 Win Total from BetMGM
Scott: In general this is the type of number I reflexively shade under, a nod towards the how difficult a climb 11 wins is in the NFL. But the Saints probably have the deepest roster in the league right now, and it’s a continuous roster, with starters (and even bench players) you know by heart. I think New Orleans has one more deep run in the Brees era. Punch me an OVER ticket.
Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB
Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski
Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens