What Drew Brees’ Retirement Means for the Saints in Fantasy

With the man NOLA calls ‘Breesus’ now officially beginning his journey to Canton via the NBC Sunday Night Football booth it is easy – and right – to reflect on what a tremendous career he has had from the adversity he faced in San Diego to the absolute triumph he was for New Orleans.

However the Saints have already moved on by pulling the old Marty McFly routine on us all with the re-signing of Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill (the latter to a blockbuster but entirely phoney $140 million dollar deal which is structured in such a way that almost feels like it’s trolling the league).

What does this mean for those Saints players you have in Fantasy? Is it worth to get back on board with Jameis Winston? Will Michael Thomas remain ‘the guy’? Just WHO is ‘The Big Fish’? Will they be ticked or ticked off? Let’s find out together…


Wide Receiver

So we all know that MT13 (as no-one is calling him) had a down year in 2020 due to injuries and being so wound up by one of his teammates that he punched him in the face. If we assume Jameis Winston is the starter due to Taysom Hill being…Taysom Hill then I don’t think we see Michael Thomas be either his 2019 or his 2020 self. He won’t break records with Winston throwing the ball but he will be a much more viable Fantasy asset. The main concern is whether Winston will learn to use his intermediate routes or continue looking for the home-run ball as he did so often in Tampa. If it is the latter then we can label Thomas as mildly ticked off. However…

Wesley Hitt - Getty Images
Michael Thomas

Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris. Two names who – in 2020 at least – had no business being near your Fantasy lineup unless you are in a 16-team Dynasty league and you also happened to have Michael Thomas, Julian Edelman and Courtland Sutton on your roster. That being said, with the aforementioned deep ball from Winston now a factor that it wasn’t with Brees at the controls they now jump in terms of their viability. I’m not saying go out and trade the farm for them and you shouldn’t be taking them as your WR2 in your re-draft league but if you’ve got them stashed on your Dynasty team or you need a pass catcher with your last couple of picks then there are worse places to look.

Callaway’s line for 2020 was 21/213/0.
Harris’ line for 2020 was 20/183/1 and 6/51/0 on the ground.

Not special numbers by any stretch of the imagination but both are speed threats and now New Orleans can put the ’20 air yards’ waffle to bed there is some real viability for both of these players. Add in the departure of Emmanuel Sanders and we can label these two with an emphatic tick.


Running Back

The main guy here is Alvin Kamara and it’s hard to judge what will become of him with a new Quarterback because it depends on your league’s point-scoring system. AK41 (as everyone should be calling him) will always be great on the ground, we’ve seen it for years now that the guy is just brilliant. He makes defenders miss and when they don’t miss he’s too damned slippery to bring down.

Where we can expect to see regression is in his PPR value because he won’t have Brees dumping the ball off to him anymore. His value added after Brees was almost a cheat code in Fantasy but we can no longer take it for granted so I think Kamara takes a conditional ticking off.

Somewhat surprisingly – at time of writing – Latavius Murray is still on the roster, I do expect him to be a trade candidate over the coming days and weeks but if he somehow ends up in NOLA for the 2021 season then I don’t see his value being overly increased or decreased.

I’m not going to bother with Ty Montgomery and neither should you.


Tight End

With the departure of Jared Cook and Josh Hill the job seemingly belongs to Adam ‘The Big Fish’ Trautman who performed pretty well in his rookie year given he was buried on the depth chart going for 17/171/1 (that number seems like I made it up but I didn’t, honest Guv).

I think Trautman is poised for a breakout year as much as his position group can be poised for a breakout year in Fantasy. Let’s not start thinking that he’s going to be up there with your Jonnu Smith’s or Travis Kelce’s but for a TE2 he is going to be excellent value. The only thing that may prevent him being the TE1 for the Saints is how much work Taysom Hill steals from him. The Big Fish is a big tick from me.

David Grunfeld - AP
Adam Trautman

Quarterback

So. You’ve made it this far and you want to know what Drew Brees’ retirement means for Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill…

Truth is, it seems like a legit competition for the starting spot this year but given how much Payton like Hill’s versatility as a runner/blocker/pass-catcher I think we can lean heavily on the idea that unless he flames out, it is Jameis Winston going forward and I think he’ll be worth a flier in re-draft leagues as a streamer or as a QB2 in deeper leagues. We’ve got very limited evidence to work with given that he’s not had a standard pre-season with his team (thanks for nothing, Covid) but I’m going to give Jameis a slight tick up and Taysom can be left with a big old question mark around what he’ll offer for your Fantasy team.


Any Other Business?

We all got excited when Jonnu Smith signed with the Patriots, yours truly rocketed him up their TE rankings, but now the addition of Hunter Henry has an impact on their viability going into a redraft league because if we see the 12 personnel from days of yore then neither will have as eye-catching numbers as we’d like.

In other AFC East news, Corey Davis may take a big jump in my Fantasy rankings depending on how the QB situation plays out in New York. No matter what happens, at least his presence makes the Jets watchable from a Fantasy/DFS point of view again after being a complete no-go throughout 2020.

Finally, a bit of NFC North action…Andy Dalton…To the Bears…That does absolutely zero for the pass catchers in Chicago as far as I’m concerned. Much like the Bears themselves, they’ll be too good to be a sleeper pick but not productive enough to be a game changer in your league.

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