When a team becomes great, they lose their fantasy appeal. The Saints understand that a balanced offense is necessary for a Super Bowl run. Gone are the days of aerial shootouts in the Dome. The Saints offense is balanced and efficient, and a solid defense eliminates the need for aggressive offensive play calling. The Saints can score a lot of fantasy points, but they do not need to score a lot of fantasy points.
Key Departures:Mark Ingram, RB
Fantasy sports revolves around quantifiable, tangible events. Ingram signing with the Baltimore Ravens does not appear to present any issue for the Saints or fantasy players set on rostering Saints. If anything, it should boost the production of Alvin Kamara. It could also boost the production of the Saints receivers as New Orleans was less likely to pass on downs when Ingram was in the backfield. If Kamara assumes a larger role, then there will be more passing opportunities. The concern surrounding Ingram’s departure is the loss of the person Drew Brees called “the heart and soul of the Saints.” This cannot be quantified by fantasy players.
Key Acquisitions:Jared Cook, TE; Latavius Murray, RB
NFL free agency is forgettable and an excuse for football addicts to feed their vice during the offseason. If a team is willing to let a player enter free agency, then that player is not a great talent. Generally speaking, great players do not change teams via free agency. However, good players can become great if they sign with the right team. Cook is that player. He is an above average tight end that has never been in quite the right spot. Last season, for the first time, an offense catered to Cook, and he had a career year at age 31 (68 receptions, 896 yards and 6 touchdowns). Antonio Gates, Jeremy Shockey and Jimmy Graham have all flourished playing with Brees. While Cook may not possess the talent of those tight ends, he seems primed to duplicate his 2018 performance.
Murray was brought in to replace Ingram and to lessen Kamara’s workload. The latter is of much consequence for fantasy football players. Murray is cheaper and less talented than his predecessor, but he will absorb Ingram’s carries. Most notably, Murray will receive goal-line carries. Kamara will continue to be major fantasy force, but Murray will be a thorn in the side of DFS players chasing monster games from Kamara.
2019 Fantasy MVP
Michael Thomas, WR
There are a dozen great receivers in the NFL, but Thomas is one of the few great receivers on a great team. He has a Hall of Fame quarterback, a great coach and an amazing supporting cast. Thomas is tall, fast and he has great hands (his 85% catch rate in 2018 was the best in the NFL). His 125 receptions led the NFL and his 1,405 receiving yards ranked fifth. The nine touchdowns might seem low, but that’s the one drawback of playing for a great offense. Fantasy players forfeit a ridiculous ceiling for a ridiculous floor. Even that might not be the case because this will be Thomas’ fourth season. Most receivers peak around the age of 26 and 27, and Thomas turned 26 in March.
2019 Fantasy LVP
Ted Ginn, WR
Time is undefeated, but Ginn is willing to accept the challenge. He believes that he is still the fastest player in the NFL and has put a $10,000 bet on the line to prove it. At the moment, you can’t place a bet on or against Ginn on DK Sportsbook, but it’s unlikely that the odds will be in favor of the 34-year-old that underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last season. Ginn has earned $36 million during his career, so a $10,000 bet does not instill confidence. The point is that Ginn is old. He played well in a handful of games at the end of last season, but there isn’t a place in the NFL for an aging speed receiver with poor hands. He’s a competitor and a great teammate, but his fantasy outlook is bleak. Cook and the possible emergence of Tre’Quan Smith will likely push Ginn into fantasy irrelevance or GPP flier.
2019 Breakout Player
Tre’Quan Smith, WR
On one hand, Smith is in a great position to be a breakout player. Being surrounded by talent is the best opportunity that a young receiver can ask for. It is also the worst position because Kamara, Thomas and Cook have all got to eat. Smith will never be the main focus of a defense and will always benefit from favorable matchups, but he will never be the first in line at lunch. If Smith were a next-level talent, then his low priority level would be off-putting, but Smith is not an exceptional receiver and this is the best scenario for him. Last season, Smith had two good games and both were blowout wins. That does not bode well for a breakout season in 2019, but Smith’s 2018 rookie season was not a true representation of his potential. The injury to Ginn forced Smith to move from slot receiver to wideout. With the return of Ginn, Smith will return to his original role. In 2016, Willie Snead caught 72 passes for 895 yards for the Saints out of the slot.
The Saints will continue to roll through the NFC, and their dominance should be of little concern. Fantasy football players often overreact to blowouts and the possibility of starters resting. These fears are unsubstantiated. Aside from the usual Week 17 nonsense, the Saints lost two regular season games last season and averaged the second largest margin of victory. Despite their lopsided affairs, the Saints averaged the third-most points per game and the eighth most yards per game. Practically every one their stars had monster years. The Saints will destroy their competition in 2019, and they will continue to score massive amounts of fantasy points.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.