Savvy fantasy football managers focus on all positions of a football team. This includes the coaching staff. Changes in the off-season can have a huge impact on the production of skill players at certain positions. Each week we will take a look at one of the nine coaches that have found new homes and examine the potential dynasty impact on the key members of that team.
Saints Give Allen a Second Shot
The first go-around for Dennis Allen as head coach did not go well. He compiled an 8-28 record in just over two seasons as the head man for the Raiders from 2012 to 2014. He was let go just four games into his third season after starting 0-4 in 2014.
Allen has led the defense for the Saints since 2015 and gave former coach Sean Payton a ton of praise for giving him a shot when things went awry in Oakland. And New Orleans have boasted a top-tier defense since the 49-year-old took over the reins.
The offense, however, struggled last season once Jameis Winston went down with a torn ACL in week eight. Winston has since been signed to a new two-year contract and is poised to be the signal-caller in the Big Easy for at least the next two seasons.
Winston is the clear-cut starter for 2021. Hill will probably see some time at the position in certain packages and Siemian is an unrestricted free agent. Book struggled in his only start against the Miami Dolphins and will likely be inactive on game days as the third-string quarterback.
On March 21st, Winston was one of the last quarterback dominos to fall. It has been a crazy off-season of movement, to say the least, and it is surprising that the veteran did not garner more interest on the market. His deal came shortly after the Saints missed out on the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes.
After seeing the contract Watson signed in Cleveland and the backlash the organization has since seen, it may not be a bad thing. Winston can be accused of being a bit immature but he seems to have been humbled a bit being a backup for a season.
The Florida State alum is just two seasons removed from being the QB3 overall and has been a solid streamer for fantasy purposes throughout his career as a starter. The Saints may be without the services of Alvin Kamara for a few games, but Michael Thomas is back (more on these two later) and the offense as a whole should look a lot better.
Pete Carmichael has been the offensive coordinator since 2009 and has been retained by Allen for 2022. Drew Brees was his quarterback during that entire span save for 2021 after the future Hall of Fame quarterback retired. The best of the four quarterbacks who started was Winston and the group as a whole scored enough fantasy points to rank as the QB9 in 2021 (ahead of Kirk Cousins).
Winston was doing good, not great before going down with the injury. The most positive aspect of the seven games he did start was the reduction in turnovers. Winston had thrown 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. This is a major improvement from his last season as the signal-caller for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2019, he had a 33:30 touchdown to interception ratio.
Winston has some serious upside and knows the offense from being involved in it the past two seasons. Sure, Sean Payton was regarded as an offensive guru, but we can expect the offense to look very similar going forward. The new regime would be crazy to try to reinvent the wheel.
The Saints have been strong at the running back position for several years and that trend should continue in 2022 as long as Alvin Kamara is not sidelined for too long. The veteran running back could be looking at a suspension stemming from an incident at a club in Vegas during Pro Bowl weekend.
Mark Ingram is signed through 2023 but is 33 years old and could be a cap casualty. The Saints could save $2.3 million by releasing the veteran. Tony Jones an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame struggled with lead role duties when given a shot in 2021. Josh Adams is the only other running back under contract. New Orleans could be in some trouble if they lose their lead back for anything more than a couple of games.
On February 6th, Kamara was arrested and charged with battery “resulting in substantial bodily harm” but was released on a $5,000 bond. We all know the league will investigate and there is a strong chance he will miss at least a few games in 2022. When healthy and on the field, he is one of the best in the business.
The versatile back has been an RB1 all five seasons he has played in the league and has done so despite playing a full season once back in his rookie year of 2017. Even though he missed four games in 2021, he managed to finish as the RB9.
Looking at the weekly position chart, we can see that Kamara is consistent on a weekly basis. We don’t see the ups and downs we see from a lot of other players. He has been an RB1 in 46 of 73 games played (63%) and was a top-five in half of those 46 games. His role should not change much with Payton out and Allen in. As we mentioned above, Carmichael has been the offensive coordinator since 2009 and has historically coached solid finishes from his running backs going back to the Pierre Thomas days.
As long as any punishment handed down from commissioner Roger Goodell is not too extreme, look for Kamara to be an RB1 yet again. Keep in mind, the four-star prospect did it by playing just 13 games in 2021.
The wide receiver position was a mess from both real-life and fantasy perspectives last season. No one was able to stand out or step up and become the alpha receiver with Michael Thomas out for the season. The best finish of the group came from Marquez Callaway at WR44 (151.8 PPR points). Callaway was also the only one to play more than 13 games. Deonte Harty (formerly Deonte Harris) played in 13 games while Tre’Quan Smith saw the field ten times in 2021. Smith just signed a new two-year deal on March 28th.
None of the bunch averaged double-digit points per game and most of them will be back in 2022. It got so bad in New Orleans that Kevin White was even active for three games. Thomas will certainly be the WR1 in the offense and the remaining wideouts will battle amongst themselves for targets.
Pete Carmichael knows how to use Thomas. The big question will be whether or not the production can be duplicated with Winston under center instead of Drew Brees. Thomas is no stranger to being peppered with targets, seeing 100 or more every season he has played minus the injury-plagued year in 2020.
We mentioned in the open that Thomas will be the clear-cut number one and others will be left fighting for scraps. Looking at the coaching history app we see that the offense cannot support more than one wideout for fantasy purposes sans 2016 when both Thomas and Brandin Cooks had WR1 finishes. From 2017 to 2019, Thomas finished in the top four in terms of targets in all three seasons, including first in 2019. Now that the ankle injury should be fully healed, look for the Buckeye alum to get back to his target-hogging ways.
Due to the injuries and his age (29 years old), dynasty managers seem to be out on the veteran. His ADP currently sits at 81.50 overall and the WR40.
Take advantage of the discount. We have to remember that while age is a concern, Thomas has played just seven games since 2019 and has not had the wear and tear most players his age have on their bodies.
The tight end position has been sort of a wasteland since Jimmy Graham left the Saints in 2014. Ben Watson put up a TE7 season in 2015 and Jared Cook did the same in 2019 but other than that, it has been barren for fantasy purposes. Adam Trautman “led” the position in 2021 with a whopping 65.3 PPR points, good for a TE36 finish.
Juwan Johnson flashed in week one when he hauled in two touchdowns but pretty much disappeared after that and only played in nine games. Trautman, Johnson, and Nick Vannett are all under contract for 2022 and beyond. Trautman and Johnson are young with some potential but are not worth a roster spot except in the deepest of leagues and Vannett is 29. Perhaps the Saints address the position or give the youngsters another year to shine.
While it is a bit unnerving that Sean Payton will no longer be calling the shots in New Orleans, it is comforting to know that Pete Carmichael will still be around running the offense. We do not expect much to change, given the time that Carmichael and Payton spent together. One would have to think that the coordinator has a pretty good idea of what to do with the offense now that he has the keys to the car.
The Saints do have five picks in the first four rounds, including four inside the top 100 so things could change come April but for now, take advantage of the perceived dip and grab up some value from this offense.
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