The Saints’ WR room received a drastic overhaul in the 2022 off-season.
Last season, the team’s top three wide receivers were Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Tre’Quan Smith. None of these receivers reached 700 yards through the air. Now, that’s set to be Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave. The investment in weapons for Jameis Winston has been important considering the gap in quality between the Buccaneers and the rest of the NFC South getting wider by day.
The future of the Saints is in question in the franchise’s first season without Sean Payton since 2005, but there’s enough to like about the skill players. Alvin Kamara is one of the best all-around running backs in the league, and Mark Ingram has returned to New Orleans for the first time since 2018.
Having said that, for this piece we’ll be focusing on the Saints’ top three receivers and the dynasty value of each. This is a look inside the team’s WR room.
At last, we’re likely getting a full season of Thomas, something we haven’t been able to say in three years.
The game’s so-called “slant boy” barely played in 2020 and missed all of 2021 due to an ankle injury, and in spite of this setback, last year’s Saints team finished a game away from making the playoffs.
In his last healthy season, Thomas broke the single-season record for catches (149) while producing 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, earning his second straight First Team All-Pro nod in the process. In total, he easily led all wide receivers in fantasy points via Fantasy Data’s metrics (225.6).
Thomas is 29 years old at this point, so his dynasty legacy is most likely in question at this point in time. But to me, he’s due for a great comeback season, and should have a few WR1 years left in him. His route footwork is some of the best in the league, and what he’s lacked in vertical ability (which can be attributed to the team’s lack of a deep passing game) he’s made up for with a great approach after the catch that allows him to snag more yards.
If you’re looking to draft a receiver early, hold off on Thomas. In the mid rounds, however, he is a must-have, even with the recent injury history.
The longtime Dolphins and Browns fan favorite has found his way back home in Louisiana.
LSU alumni Landry struggled with a knee injury during his last season in Cleveland. As a result, his production was well below expectations as he finished with 52 receptions, 570 yards, and just two touchdowns. According to Fantasy Data’s metrics, Landry’s 81 points were just 56th among all wide receivers in 2021.
Another inconvenience at the expense of Landry’s production was the injury-riddled Baker Mayfield, who couldn’t match the consistency of his 2020 campaign thanks to a battered non-throwing shoulder. As a result, what was once a high-powered offense crashed into an abyss of mediocrity.
Still, Landry looks to have better receivers around him plus a healthier quarterback in Jameis Winston, fresh off a midseason ACL tear. Like Thomas, Landry isn’t known for being a field-stretching threat, but he’s excelled as an underneath safety net. You’ll never recognize him for his speed, but he’s also been lethal after the catch and has been great on contested passes.
The problem is Landry, approaching the age of 30, has not reached 1,000 yards in a season since 2019, nor has he reached nine touchdowns since 2017. So as far as dynasty value goes, you should probably pass on him in the first half of your dynasty draft. But if you’re looking for a cheap rental at slot receiver, then he presents a half-decent option.
It seems like half of the Saints’ roster is loaded with Buckeyes alumni. From Michael Thomas to Marshon Lattimore, Nick Vannett, and now Chris Olave, there are several big names who went to Ohio State and made a career for themselves.
Olave didn’t do too much in college, just break the school record for touchdowns with 35. He was rewarded with a First Team All Big Ten spot in his last two seasons, putting up 936 yards and 13 touchdowns off 65 catches in his final collegiate season.
This was an impressive feat considering the players he was fighting with for attention. Garrett Wilson was considered by some to be an even better prospect than Olave, and in similar fashion, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was considered the best receiver on the entire Ohio State offense! Whether or not you agree is a different story, but the point remains that Olave still managed to stand out and cement himself as one of this draft class’ top prospects.
Out of the three receivers listed, Olave has the highest ceiling down the field. With a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, he’s shown little trouble creating separation, and the way he approaches routes with hesitant footwork reminds me of Keenan Allen. He’ll need to work on shedding tackles, but he also ran a diverse route tree at Ohio State, giving offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael plenty of ways to use him.
At 22, Olave is at the perfect age for dynasty investors. The only potential setback is the quarterback scenario, but Winston should hopefully hold the fort in that regard. This should be an easy pick in the mid rounds.
With his established peaks and return from injury, Thomas presents the best dynasty player right now, and is a strong dynasty target. Olave has yet to establish himself, but he was a great route runner in college and could be the Saints’ best vertical receiver in due time. In that respect, he is a terrific mid-round pick as well. Landry’s skill set is the weakest of the three in my opinion, and while he could be a solid slot receiver in the later rounds, I’d likely stay away from him as a long-term fix.
With that said, what are your thoughts on the Saints’ WR room? Leave your takes in the comments below!
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