@edmcgon was not happy with my projections for the Saints, and rightly so. While I did bump their passing production up in my initial projections, expecting Jameis Winston and the entire passing offense to perform better than in 2021, I did not bump them far enough.
Alvin Kamara is highly likely to miss time in 2022, and that will shift the offense further towards passing the ball. I had not taken that into account previously, so I now adjusted my team projections accordingly.
And I made another mistake: Kamara also commanded a healthy share of the passing volume, almost 20% in 2021. If he misses time, that opens up more volume for the WRs, which I had also not taken into account earlier on.
The new Saints projections look quite different now.
In the passing game, I now gave them about the same stats as in 2019, the last year with Drew Brees under center. That may be a tad optimistic, because Brees had the highest completion rate in the league, and that’s something Winston won’t be able to repeat.
I gave him a 63.2%, which is way up from his 2021 performance (59.0%), but still miles away from Brees’ league-leading 71-72% in 2019 and 2020.
Adjusted to a 17 game season, the 2020 Saints would have thrown for 4,000 yards. I also don’t see the 2022 Saints quite there yet, and gave them 3,800 yards, which is still 20% more than they had in 2021.
With the expected completion rate, that would mean the Saints would have to throw the ball around 600 times. Last they did that was in 2019, when they had 581 attempts in 16 games.
I may have turned from too pessimistic to too optimistic here, but the potential is there.
With a 20% rushing share, Jameis Winston is my QB#14. That’s 6 spots above his ADP. I know that you have him even higher, Ed. But to get there, he’d have to get close to Brees’ completion rate, which was the highest in the league for years. And I don’t see that happening.
Alvin Kamara I have now projected with a 6-game ban, which is what everybody seems to expect. If he commands his 2021 volume share in the remaining 11 games, he’d finish the season as RB#34, but would of course be a lot more valuable in those games he suits up.
I don’t expect the TEs to play a huge role in 2021. I left Taysom Hill unranked, as I’m not sure they will really utilize him as a TE. He’ll be a gadget player and will see a few plays, but I don’t expect him to put up relevant numbers.
Adam Trautman I gave a 10% share, which would make him TE#26, right in line with his ADP.
The WR room benefits heavily from my adjusted projections. It’s still difficult to project, as we don’t know what Michael Thomas’ status will be. For the moment, I gave Thomas and Chris Olave a total 55% volume share over the season. It will be higher in the games that Kamara will miss, and slightly lower for the rest of the season, so this is an average value.
Early reports suggest the Saints are impressed by Olave, who seems to be a well-polished NFL-ready rookie. I gave him a slight edge over Thomas.
As a result, Thomas is now WR#21 and Olave WR#16 in my ranking. If one of them turns out to be a true alpha receiver, he could push into WR1 territory, which would reduce the other one to a WR3/FLEX role.
Jarvis Landry will chip in with 15-20%, which won’t allow him to rise beyond his WR#53 ADP. He’d only become fantasy relevant if Thomas misses time.
The same goes for Marquez Callaway. Thomas and Olave are both veritable deep threats, and both are undoubtedly more talented than Callaway, who was not efficient in 2021.
Winston is underrated at his current QB#20 ADP.
The backfield looks toxic. Kamara can be an asset in the second half of the fantasy season - if he doesn’t get banned for more than 6 games and returns to his old role once he’s back. At ADP RB#11, he’s a risky pick, as he definitely won’t return that value over the entire season. If he drops further in your draft, he’s still worth a thought, though, with the fantasy playoffs in mind.
Thomas and Olave could both beat their ADPs. Thomas is currently WR#26, Olave WR#52. That makes Olave the much more interesting pick, as he could leap into WR2 territory even with Thomas returning to be his former self. If that doesn’t happen, the sky is the limit for Olave.
I would not recommend to draft Thomas above his current ADP. Olave looks like a steal in redraft, and a must-have player in dynasty.