2017 IDP Projection Marking: New Orleans Saints

Tom Kislingbury

Hi everyone and welcome to the fantasy off-season. It was a wild ride in 2017 and I’m still recovering, but there’s no real off-season in the dynasty world. In the summer I made projections for every IDP in the league I thought would be relevant. You can go back and read all of the 2017 IDP Projections here.

I was right in some places. I was wrong in some places. But either way, it’s important to be accountable and honest so I can figure out why and make adjustments in the future. I’ll be going through every team and noting where I was right and where I was wrong. To do that I’ll show what my projections were, how players actually performed, and how big the discrepancies were.

I loved the 2017 Saints. They were a really fun team to watch on both sides of the ball. They were pretty inconsistent though, and tough to predict. I can’t prove this, but it seems to me that they make some fairly rash personnel decisions. Players are randomly benched all over the place. They’re a tough proposition.

no team

Defensive Tackle

After an excellent rookie season in 2016, Sheldon Rankins was tabbed by a lot of people to take another step up as a really good player in DT-required leagues. That didn’t really happen. He played a lot (only Ndamukong Suh and DeForest Buckner played more snaps among tackles) but he was consistently inefficient which led to underperforming against tackle predictions.

It was a season-long malaise, but I expect him to bounce back in 2018. On the pass-rushing front, I do not. He recorded four as a rookie but that was abnormally high for a tackle in Dennis Allen’s scheme. He regressed to just two in 2017 which was only one out from what I expected. I think this is a good argument for those people that think young players’ stats automatically improve a little bit every year.

I was at least closer in solo tackle numbers for Tyeler Davison (solos bang on) and David Onyemata (solos three over). Onyemata’s 20 assists was a total shock. I’ve no clue where they came from.

Defensive End

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I said earlier that the Saints were fun to watch. For me, that was a lot down to Cameron Jordan. He was a wrecking ball all season long and deserved his all-pro spot. By their very nature elite seasons are hard to predict coming so I was quite low on solos (nine more than expected), sacks (six more) and batted passes (eight more).

Alex Okafor was a bit of a surprise too. He played about a game less than expected but managed to exceed all stats. That’s the hallmark of a really good player.


I had a battle on Twitter with someone in the summer who thought I’d somehow stolen A.J. Klein from him when I put him down as a top 25 LB. I wish I’d saved myself the trouble and never mentioned him at all. Klein was a huge disappointment. Even when he was playing high snap counts he had games where he did almost nothing at all. Saints LBs tend to be inefficient but he was awful recording a tackle on fewer than 8% of his snaps. To put that into context 53 cornerbacks were more efficient tacklers in 2017.

Alex Anzalone started the season at the spot next to Klein but predictably was hurt early on. I like him as a player but he’s certainly injury prone. Craig Robertson stepped in as the main beneficiary. He was inefficient too (with a tackle on 9.7% of his snaps) but far overproduced against expectations due to volume.

Manti Te’o played 500 snaps in the end and finished fairly close to predicted totals.


Marshon Lattimore was maybe the best rookie defensive player in the league as a shutdown corner. I was close on his tackle numbers (just one solo and three assists under) but he put up huge coverage plays with 19 PDs and five interceptions. Only five players in the NFL managed higher than that. I expect him to be avoided much more in 2018 and all his numbers to drop. He’s likely to be a bad IDP asset.

The numbers were pretty good for P.J. Williams but Ken Crawley over-delivered too. No Saints corner played more than his 820 snaps which led to 48 solos and an excellent 17 PDs. I saw neither of those coming at all I’m afraid.


There were more major errors here. I thought Kenny Vaccaro would play as a strong safety whereas he spent most of his time in the slot. And I thought Marcus Williams would be a backup whereas he played 958 snaps and was a core player. That led to his unfortunate mistake in the playoffs, but he was a solid deep safety for most of the season and put up good numbers for the position. There’s also a note of caution here – he is a free safety so isn’t generally a high-quality IDP. Don’t be suckered in by the buzz around him.

Anyway – all this adds up to some bad predictions. Vaccaro was far less impressive than expected and Vonn Bell and Williams both far better.

In summary

The Saints obviously had a good season and their 2017 draft will go down as a fantastic one but there are still major holes here. The team is desperate for linebacker help. It was a disaster zone last season. And I expect Vaccaro to leave the team, so there’ll be a hole to fill there. Given how much he plays slot don’t be shocked if the Saints replace him with a player who’s more of a cornerback.

Thanks for reading.


tom kislingbury