The 2022 New Orleans Saints

@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.

Team Outlook:

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.

Player Outlook:

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.

Fantasy Conclusion:

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.

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You do realize Jameis passed for over 5000 yards in 2019? I’m not saying he will repeat that, but 3800? Even the efficient Jameis might be better than that.

Dare I point out: A new coaching staff? It was Sean Payton’s team in 2019 and 2020 and 2021.

Actually, I see you as still too conservative. But you’re working on it. :+1:

You’re missing the opportunity. It’s in the yards/attempt, not the completion %. Jameis has a cannon for an arm. If he increases his completion percent, but also maintains a strong yards/attempt, that is where he nails it (His career y/a is better than both Brees and Brady). Add in his td % ability (8.7% last year, which is way above anyone), and you get some serious numbers.

Total agreement there. Taysom was a Sean Payton pet project.

I have to agree with you here. Thomas hasn’t inspired much faith in me since 2019. If Olave is even healthy and decent, he could easily outplay Thomas.

There’s the rub: if Thomas misses time. My gut tells me Landry could be a steal.

Short of injuries to Thomas, Olave and Landry, I don’t see Callaway has any kind of value.

As for the rest of your analysis, spot-on!

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Which led to a 7-9 record. I don’t think the coaches will risk 30 INTs just to give us a crazy fantasy asset. They want to win games, and putting Jameis in gunslinger mode won’t do that.

In my stats, I’m looking at yards per completion, rather than per attempt. I find that stat more relevant, as the passing efficiency is already highlighted by the completion ratio. But it’s just a personal preference.

In terms of yards per completion, the Brees-led Saints were always below average in the league. Which isn’t surprising, as a high completion rate (and Brees led the league in that category) usually comes with shorter passes.

In 2021, the Saints were 5th in yards per completion, but at the cost of a widely inefficient passing offense. In all other passing metrics, they were among the 3 worst teams in the league. That includes the games with Winston under center. His passes were deep, but inefficient. His completion rate was 59.0%, one of the worst in the league.

The 63.2% I gave him for this year aren’t great by any league standards. That would rank the Saints 22nd out of 32 teams in that category.

If he tried to squeeze more yards out of his attempts, the accuracy would go down even more. I don’t think that’s the path they will take. Not if they want to win games, at least.

If you look at 2021, you will see that 9 teams had a completion rate of under 63%. All of them had a record of 9-8 or worse. None of them made the playoffs.

On the other end of the spectrum, 9 teams had a completion rate of 67% or higher. They all had 10-7 record or better. All 9 teams made the playoffs.

If the Saints want to have a chance of making the playoffs with Winston as their QB, they will have to work on his completion rate. 63% won’t cut it, but would be a sign that he’s capable of improving.

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Don’t forget that Jameis had the eye surgery to improve his vision. We may not yet know what he is capable of. We only got a brief glimpse of his potential last season, and that was with a bunch of scrub receivers. 14 td’s and 3 picks over 7 games with nothing to catch the ball is pretty impressive. What will he do with Thomas, Olave, and Landry?