2020 Preview: New Orleans Saints


Saints WR Michael Thomas is Elite; Parker and Tweets are not

The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).

            The Saints were a powerhouse in the NFC in 2019 again, but again it didn’t go as expected in the post-season. Drew Brees was injured in the Saints’ second regular season game against the Rams, but backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 in his starts behind Brees. The Saints had another great season, going 13-3 and winning the NFC South. But two other NFC Teams hit 13 wins, and the Saints found themselves a 13-win team playing on Wild Card Weekend.

            They drew a matchup with the Vikings, and for the second time in three years the Vikings knocked the Saints out of the playoffs on the last play of the game. This time it was a TD pass to Kyle Rudolph. So, the Saints’ Super Bowl hopes were dashed prematurely yet again. But the team re-loaded this off-season and is once again ready to make a run.

Off-Season Changes

            The Saints saw Bridgewater depart, signing a three-year deal to lead the division rival Carolina Panthers. But the Saints secured the position by re-signing Brees for two more years as they make another run and bringing back Weapon X Taysom Hill. Hill played an active role for the Saints in 2019, subbing in for Brees in some packages and lining up with him for others. He figures to do the same in 2020. And the team also brought in veteran Jameis Winston, a former No. 1 overall pick who threw for more than 30 TDs in 2019, on a one-year deal. Winston figures to be the primary backup for Brees in 2020.

            The team didn’t have many draft picks but did use one to snag Dayton tight end Adam Trautman, who could be the future at that position. They also grabbed veteran Ty Montgomery to provide some backfield depth. But the biggest addition was receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to be the team’s No. 2 passing option. Sanders is a veteran who has played with the Steelers, Broncos and, most recently, 49ers. The Saints saw him on the field in a crucial match in 2019, and now have a chance to add a veteran weapon opposite all world receiver Michael Thomas. Sanders caught 66 passes for 869 yards and five TDs with the Broncos and 49ers last season, and figures to be a significant upgrade over departed veteran Ted Ginn, Jr.

Fantasy Impact

            Brees is a talented and reliable quarterback. Age will eventually catch up with him, but we saw no signs of that in 2019. I think he’s solidly a QB1 for 2020 as the Saints try to get to the Super Bowl again. In the backfield, it’s all about Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Both will have a role, but Kamara is the lead dog. Despite being at what he estimated was 75 percent most of 2019, Kamara finished with 797 rushing yards and five TDs, adding 81 receptions for 533 yards and a TD. That was good enough to be RB9 last year, and he’s an easy RB1 in 2020 with Top 5 upside. Murray had 637 yards for five TDs and 34 receptions for 235 yards and a TD in 2019. If Kamara misses time, he’s shown the ability to carry the load. But I think he has low-end RB3 value on his own.

            Among receivers, it’s all about Thomas. Thomas saw 185 targets and caught 149 balls for 1,725 yards and nine TDs. He was easily WR1 and should be a strong contender to be WR1 again. He’s the top receiver off the board in most drafts, and for good reason. Behind him the team has Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith. I’m not drafting Smith, but I think Sanders has WR3 appeal. Jared Cook held down the TE spot in 2019, catching 43 passes for 705 yards and nine TDs. He was TE7 in 2019, and is a TE1 for fantasy again in 2020.

Prediction

            The Saints have been a top tier contender in the NFC for the past few years, and I see little reason to suspect they won’t be again in 2020. I have picked them for the Super Bowl the past few seasons and been burned, but I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. The NFC South has some very good teams, but I think the Saints win it again, and this time I like them to finally get back to the Super Bowl for Brees.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.

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