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32 in 32: New Orleans Saints

In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!


Derek Carr (QB - New Orleans Saints):


2022 was a rough season for Carr and the Raiders alike, struggling overall and eventually seeing Carr controversially replaced at the end of the season, signaling the end of his tenure as the Raiders’ QB.


He was serviceable last year, going for over 3,600 yards and 24 TDs to 14 INTs in just 15 games, finishing the year as the QB17 in points and as the QB15 during his time as the starter.


We’ve seen this type of production on a near-annual basis from Carr, who has seen these finishes in fantasy since his rookie year: QB15, QB11, QB19, QB18, QB16, QB13, QB14, QB17. He’s always been a middle-of-the-pack QB, serving as someone you could plug into your lineup if needed, but never as desired.


That may be reflective of what he’s had to work with – Carr’s never had anything in the form of a second receiving weapon throughout his career. Now moving to New Orleans, he should have the weapons, between RB Alvin Kamara (if he avoids a lengthy suspension), Chris Olave, and Michael Thomas, to give him the potential to succeed.


I don’t mind him as a low-risk investment as a QB2 option, especially if in a 2QB/SuperFlex league, given his price as a low-QB2 in the final rounds (or waiver wire) of drafts. The upside is there if Olave can continue his upward trajectory, if Michael Thomas can remain healthy, and if Kamara can log 10+ games this season.

 

Alvin Kamara (RB - New Orleans Saints):


This is one of the trickiest situations to judge heading into 2023.


Kamara is currently entangled with legal issues surrounding an arrest in February of 2022 for assault and conspiracy to commit battery. With his trial set to begin July 31st, there’s no clarity on if, or when, discipline will be passed down from the league for Kamara. If he were to be suspended (which can occur whether he is found guilty or not), it would likely be for six games, per precedent.


The Saints’ moves at RB – signing Jamaal Williams and drafting 3rd round RB Kendre Miller, suggest they are anticipating a suspension for Kamara in 2023, whether it be to start the season or is handed out mid-season (similar to Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension in 2017).


It was an uncharacteristically down season in 2022 for Kamara, finishing with just 1,387 total yards and 4 TDs in his lowest-scoring season (RB16) in his career. Primarily attributable to a poor offense, it was the first time in his career that Kamara failed to finish as a top-8 RB in points or PPG.


That’s where the dilemma is: how much is it worth risking to draft an RB1 that may miss a third (or more) of the season?


His draft price is wildly varying, going anywhere from a mid-RB3 (RB28) and late-6th/early-7th rounder on ECR to that of a low-RB3 (RB35) in the 9th round on ADP. He will be a league-deciding player in 2023, whether that be costing those weeks due to a suspension or winning them due to not being suspended.


Here’s my position on Kamara for this season: I am very comfortable taking him anywhere that he doesn’t have to be in the lineup for Week 1. Whether that be as your RB3 on the bench, or as an RB2 in leagues that have SUS/RES spots, I am fine with him on the bench as high as the 5th round. If he can’t be slotted onto your bench, whether you are drafting him as your RB2 (without a SUS/RES spot) or as a must-play FLEX (without an alternative), I wouldn’t draft him until you have those spots filled.


The upside is off the charts, especially within a likely greatly-improved offense. It all comes down to how comfortable you are drafting a potentially suspended player.

 

Chris Olave (WR - New Orleans Saints):


Olave showed major flashes in his rookie season, even despite questionable QB play between the likes of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton, finishing the year with over 1,000 yards, 4 TDs, and as the WR25 in fantasy.


He was the go-to guy in New Orleans, racking up 119 targets and a 23.2% target share in Year 1. That workload was a key contributor to Olave’s tremendous mid-season success, going for 10+ points in 10 of 11 games from Weeks 2-13, including an 8-game stretch from Week 3 where he was the WR8 in fantasy.


It’s unlikely he replicates the target share he saw last year (23.2%) with Michael Thomas returning, but it would be expected that Olave sees an increase in overall targets, by virtue of a move from a conservative ‘game manager’ in Andy Dalton to a volume-happy QB in Derek Carr (who was 11th in pass attempts last season).


With that increase in workload, accompanied by likely improved QB play, Olave has breakout potential, possibly matching his mid-season run in 2022 where he was a top-12 WR for fantasy purposes.


I like him as a mid-to-high WR2 option, which aligns with his current draft price (WR13 on ADP, WR14 on ECR) in the late-2nd/early-3rd round. I’d be comfortable with him in the 3rd as my WR2 or as a very low-end WR1 if I had already secured an elite RB duo in the first two rounds.


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