Winston is just seven months removed from surgery to repair a
torn ACL, and while he was active during OTAís and mini-camp,
he was clearly not at full strength. Despite that, new Saints
HC Dennis Allen says Winston will be ready for the start of training
camp and will be the starting QB in New Orleans this season unless
he has some sort of setback. Recent videos surfacing on social
media would seem to back up that premise. The clips show a mobile
Winston, much more mobile than he was even a month ago.
If he is healthy, there are plenty of reasons to be high on Winston,
who has to be considered the lead dog in the NFL Comeback Player
of the Year conversation. He has the support of his head coach,
he has an impressive two-headed monster in the backfield in Alvin
Kamara (pending legal issues) and Mark Ingram, and a versatile
receiving corps that includes explosive rookie Chris Olave, productive
veteran Jarvis Landry, and hopefully a fully healthy Michael Thomas.
Winston was 16th in the NFL last year averaging nearly 20 fantasy
points per game, and in the seven games he actually played, he
threw 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions and led the
Saints to a 5-2 record. He did that amidst a QB battle with Taysom
Hill, his first action after a season on the bench behind Drew
Brees and a receiver group that lacked a true WR1. This will be
a run-first offense, but that sets up the play action game that
Winston excels at, averaging almost 10 yards per attempt on those
throws. Itís not hard to visualize Winston as a low end
QB1 if he can stay healthy and bring all these new pieces on offense
Dalton was less than impressive in limited action for the Bears
last season, throwing just eight touchdowns to nine interceptions
and averaging a meager 6.4 yards per attempt. While acknowledging
that, heís still a solid handcuff play for Winston Ė
a veteran guy who can step in and lead an offense should Winston
struggle physically, or if he reverts to his old ways and starts
turning the ball over.
Kamara is electric when heís on the field. The question
for fantasy owners this season is, will he be on the field? And
if so, when? Kamara is facing felony battery charges stemming
from an incident at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas this winter. His
hearing has been pushed to August 1st, which means the trial will
be later. Heís likely facing an NFL suspension of up to
six games, but not until the legal process has run itsí
course. Thatís a risky scenario, not unlike the one the
Browns are facing in Cleveland with Deshaun Watson.
The five-time Pro Bowler has never had a 1,000-yard rushing season,
but he did turn in three 100-yard rushing days in 2021. His value
is in his receiving skills, run after the catch, and overall versatility.
Heís had five straight seasons of at least 1,300 total yards
and has scored 30 times in the last two years. The Saints scheme
to get him in space and let him be a playmaker, which works to
Without the legal issue, heís a viable top five RB in all
formats. But until his off the field situation is sorted out,
heís a very risky play early in your draft.
Ingram is a couple years removed from his best days as a bell-cow
back, but thatís what he may end up being should Alvin Kamara
be suspended for his pending legal issues. In a down season, part
of which he played with a bad Texans team, he still rushed for
over 500 yards and caught 27 balls. He has more physical, tackle-to-tackle
ability than Kamara, but can still be a formidable receiver in
Injury and age have begun to creep up on Ingram, but even if
Kamara somehow doesnít get suspended, the two will work
in tandem for a team that will still want to run the ball. If
he can stay healthy, heís a low end RB2 with some upside
should he find himself in the starting lineup at any point.
At 5-11, 225, Jones is a bigger version of Mark Ingram and a
power runner between the tackles. He averaged just 2.6 yards per
carry on 54 carries in 2021. But in just his third season, he
looks to be a guy the Saints want to develop. Donít be surprised
if thereís short yardage and goal line role for him in this offense
at some point, and if Kamara is lost for any lengths of time,
expect Jones to step into his spot next to Ingram. Iím putting
him on my watch list.
We all remember who Michael Thomas was. We just canít be
sure who he is. The big, physical playmaker who started his career
with four straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons has now missed
most of the last two campaigns, including all of 2021 due to an
ankle injury that has required multiple surgeries. He did not
participate in team practices this Spring, and while videos have
surfaced showing him doing sprint work, and team officials are
saying heíll be ready for camp, itís just not reasonable
to think heís going to throw the pads on and go back to
being the NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2019).
When heís healthy, heís a beast. The three-time Pro
Bowler and two-time All-Pro will go across the middle, make plays
on contested balls in traffic, and can run after the catch. He
can single-handedly change the way the Saints play offense. The
drafting of fellow Ohio State Buckeye Chris Olave, and the signing
of veteran free agent Jarvis Landry will certainly cut into some
of his targets, but it will also relieve some of the pressure
on him to contribute right away while he re-acclimates himself
to game conditions.
Two years is a long time to be off a football field, and his
boy Drew Brees isnít back there chucking the rock anymore,
so I need to see Thomas in action again before I start pushing
him up my board. Right now, heís a WR3 for me with obvious
unlimited upside. But I wouldnít expect too much too early.
The former LSU standout has come home to New Orleans on a one-year
prove it deal after suffering through the worst season of his
career in 2021. His 87 targets, 52 receptions, 570 yards, and
two touchdowns were all career lows. Some will attribute that
to poor QB play in Cleveland, but whatever the reason, he needs
to get back on track with the Saints if he hopes to cash in on
his next deal.
The good news is heíll work out of the slot between Michael
Thomas and talented rookie Chris Olave. The bad news is heíll
be lining up in the slot between Michael Thomas and talented rookie
Chris Olave, in a run-first offense, with a QB coming off ACL
surgery, all of which could seriously hamper the target share
of a guy who has averaged almost nine targets per game over his
Heís a volume receiver with huge hands, great route running
skills and a high football IQ. I could see him getting a lot of
action early in the season as QB Jameis Winston and Thomas find
their legs after injury, and Alvin Kamara sorts out his legal
troubles and serves a potential suspension. Heís being drafted
as a borderline WR4, but I think heís got sleeper potential
written all over him.
The 11th overall pick in the draft, Olave was a highly productive
college receiver with 4.3 speed and a nose for the end zone. While
he is a smooth route runner and can align anywhere, he will likely
work primarily on the perimeter opposite Michael Thomas and is
the guy in this offense who can take the top off the defense.
Heís a great match for Jameis Winstonís huge arm,
providing plenty of big plays, but should also command a decent
target share, especially if Thomas isnít at full speed to
start the season. Rookies typically have some transition time,
so I would draft him as your WR3/WR4 and see how he develops and
where he finds his fit in the offense.
Callaway is coming off a career year with 46 catches for 698
yards and six scores. He became the primary playmaker in an offense
that was severely lacking in them in 2021. But with Michael Thomasí
return, and the addition of Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave, he
will be hard-pressed to find more than a WR4 role this season
unless one of the above-mentioned players goes down to injury.
Iíll admit it. I was really high on Trautman this time
last year. A small-school prospect with a big skill set, he had
a straight path to the starting TE spot, and then had a chance
to shine for a team whose receiving corps was decimated by injury,
inconsistency and uneven QB play. He didnít answer the bell,
recording just 27 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns, including
just two catches on three total targets over the last three games.
With the quickness and change of direction skills of a receiver,
big reliable hands, and toughness after the catch, he has so much
potential. But heís now got to compete for the starting spot with
veterans Taysom Hill and Nick
Vannett, and maybe even rookie FA Lucas Krull, who impressed
in the Spring. And if he wins that battle, he lines up as just
the fourth or fifth receiving option behind a revamped WR room.
Heís only a consideration in deeper formats.
Taysom Hill’s quarterbacking days disappeared somewhere
in the middle of Sean Payton’s retirement press conference.
He’ll now take up residence in the TE meeting room and use
his stellar athleticism and versatility to make plays there. The
ultimate utility man, he could be a factor near the goal line
and on unique down and distance plays. But while Payton loved
the trickery and gadget plays that Hill can bring to life, new
HC Dennis Allen, a defensive guy, may be a little more likely
to play it close to the vest. We’ll see how Hill’s
role evolves, but don’t be surprised to see him on special