Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
Drew Brees (Jan ADP: 157.50, QB16)
Fresh off a brutal overtime defeat in the NFC championship game, likely due to one of the worst non-calls in NFL history, Drew Brees has a decision to make about his future. He said: “I plan on being here next year and making another run at it”, so until we hear otherwise, Brees will be back for his 19th season at age 40.
From a production standpoint, Brees finished as QB7 through week 16 with 303.8 points. That’s just two spots higher than his QB9 finish in 2017 with 248.6. We should expect another top ten season from Brees in 2019 with an outside shot at finishing closer to the top three as he did in 2016. You could do a lot worse with your 13th round startup pick.
Consensus DLF rankings have him at QB18 and for a contending team looking to make a title run in 2019, Brees represents a nice value. Just know that you are likely only getting one more season of production.
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Teddy Bridgewater (Jan ADP: 229.67, QB29)
Bridgewater signed with the Jets last March but was traded to the Saints for a third-round pick in late August to back up Brees. Bridgewater started the season finale, completing 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 33-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The unrestricted free agent will have an interesting decision to make this off-season. It’s likely Bridgewater will have an opportunity to make more money and have a better shot at a starting job elsewhere, but coming back to New Orleans could mean a better situation once Brees does finally move on. Ultimately, I think he moves on if offered a starting job.
(Graph from http://apps.dynastyleaguefootball.com/adp/compare.php?players=7242|16497)
Taysom Hill (Jan ADP: N/A)
Taysom Hill could once again be the backup to Brees in 2019 if Bridgewater moves on but I think it’s likely they bring another guy to be the official QB2 for the Saints. Hill is involved enough in the offense and on special teams that it seems like they would prefer to keep him in that role rather than just having him back up to the Hall of Famer.
Alvin Kamara (Jan ADP: 5.5, RB5)
The Saints’ sophomore followed up an RB3 overall finish in his rookie season with an RB4 overall finish in 2018 in which he scored 354.2 points He tore it up in the first four weeks of the season while Mark Ingram was serving his suspension, amassing 35 receptions, six touchdowns, and 611 yards from scrimmage. Even more encouraging was the fact that Kamara maintained his rushing workload when Ingram returned in week five.
DLF consensus rankings currently have Kamara as RB4, one spot higher than his ADP of RB5 so if you want to acquire him it will cost you. Whatever it may cost you is probably worth it. He’ll be just 23 when the 2019 season begins and as previously discussed, Drew Brees will return to be his quarterback. Even when Brees finally does retire, Kamara should have a safe floor for the next five-seven years based on his receiving ability alone. He is one of four current running backs I feel genuinely have a shot at hitting the benchmark of 1,000-yards rushing and 1,000-yard receiving in the same season.
Mark Ingram (Jan ADP: 68.17, RB27)
Ingram missed the first four games of 2018 serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. When he returned in week five, Ingram resumed his double-digit carry role in the offense. His receiving workload is where his production truly took a hit, never receiving more than three targets in a single game. In 2017 he had at least four receptions in 12 games.
His future is uncertain. He is an unrestricted free agent this off-season and without a serious hometown discount, Ingram is unlikely to return to New Orleans. It’s much more likely that he tries to get one more decent sized contract at age 29 before retiring. The good news is Ingram has more tread on his tires than other running backs nearing the age 30 cliff. He has only carried the ball more than 200 carries in a season three times with a high of 230 in 2017. If he can land on the right team, there’s a good chance he’ll be a lead back for one or two more seasons. The bad news is that it’s probably going to be for a team with a much worse offense than the Saints.
Ingram is currently the RB27 in January’s ADP, but RB28 in rankings. On contending teams he is a good buy target this off-season. Unless he ends up as a depth piece for another NFL team, Ingram is likely to return RB2 production for a season or two. If you can get him for a 2019 early second round pick then I’d pull the trigger. Depending on who is available at that point in the draft and the state of my team, I might be willing to go as high as 1.10 to make it happen. He seems like a no-brainer to me if you are looking for cheap RB2 or flex production in 2019.
(Graph from http://apps.dynastyleaguefootball.com/adp/compare.php?players=9900406|13337)
Dwayne Washington (Jan ADP: N/A)
The only other running back still on the Saints active roster is former Detroit Lions’ cast-off Dwayne Washington. He is still under contract for 2019 but it’s unlikely the Saints enter the season with Washington as the primary backup to Kamara.
Michael Thomas (Jan ADP: 7.5, WR2)
In 2016, Michael Thomas finished as the WR11, in 2017 the WR5, and in 2018 the WR3. What’s remarkable about his 2018 season is his 85% catch rate. Thomas turned 147 targets into 125 catches 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. The WR1, Davante Adams, received 22 more targets and had 14 fewer receptions. The WR2, Antonio Brown, received 21 more targets and had 21 fewer receptions. Thomas put up a low-key special season.
Thomas will be 26 years old when the 2019 season begins. He is just entering the historical prime production years of the wide receiver position. At WR2 overall in both the consensus rankings and the January ADP, he won’t be cheap to acquire in trades or in startup drafts but I still think he’s the kind of player who is worth the high price tag. Drew Brees eventually retiring is a concern but Thomas is talented enough to be one of those “QB-proof” receivers and I trust the Saints organization to find a serviceable signal caller.
Tre’Quan Smith (Jan ADP: 86, WR38)
In week five of the 2018 season, Smith made a name for himself by streaking down the sideline and catching a 62-yard touchdown pass that gave Brees the career passing yardage record. Other than his three catch 111-yard, two touchdown performance in week five, and a ten-reception, 157-yard, one-touchdown game in week 11, Smith failed to record more than six targets, three receptions, or 44 yards in a game all season long. In six games he scored zero fantasy points. Other than the two big weeks, it was a fairly disappointing season.
Two nice games and being part of a Brees offense has boosted Smith to a borderline WR3 in January’s ADP. Current consensus rankings have him at WR40 which falls close to ADP. For me, it feels a little high. Receivers like Marvin Jones, Keke Coutee, and Antonio Callaway are all going behind Smith and I’d prefer all of them. If I can get current WR3 prices for him, I’d move him for any of those if I could get a sweetener on top. That’s not to say I don’t like him. I do. He has entered sell territory though based on his escalated ADP and the fact this offense will continue to run through its studs and the secondary pieces will be inconsistent week-to-week.
Keith Kirkwood (Jan ADP: 202.5, WR81)
Undrafted free agent Kirkwood was activated from the practice squad in week ten when Dez Bryant was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. In his debut, he caught both targets for 45 yards. He never received more than five targets in a game but sprinkled in a couple touchdown receptions down the stretch and caught another in the divisional round victory over Philadelphia.
It’s possible Kirkwood becomes the team’s WR3 in 2018 but I wouldn’t count on it. Given his price tag, he is worth considering as a throw-in request as part of a bigger trade and is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues, but I wouldn’t be actively looking to acquire Kirkwood. The Saint’s offense will continue to run through Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas for the near future.
Ted Ginn Jr. (Jan ADP: 222.17, WR93)
Ginn suffered a knee in week four and didn’t return until week 16 and ended up with just 17 catches on 30 targets for 2019 yards and two touchdowns in five games.
Ginn is still being drafted late in January startup drafts but he’ll be 34 entering the 2019 season. He is currently under contract for the 2019 season but with only $1M in dead cap money, it’s possible he is cut. He is currently the WR102 in consensus rankings and isn’t worth anything more than a roster spot as a depth piece on deep rosters. If the Saints cut him then you probably should too.
(Graph from http://apps.dynastyleaguefootball.com/adp/compare.php?players=17960|9992444|9992797|12109)
Tommylee Lewis (Jan ADP: N/A)
Lewis was on the other end of the infamous no-call big hit from Nickell Robey-Coleman in the NFC title game and that’s likely what he’ll always be famous for. He is a non-factor in fantasy at this point in time.
Austin Carr (Jan ADP: N/A)
Carr is the starting slot receiver according to the current depth chart but is a non-factor in the offense. He has never received more than two targets in a game.
Benjamin Watson (Jan ADP: N/A)
Count me among those who were optimistic about Watson being a dirt-cheap answer to the tight end position in 2019. We were rewarded with a TE23 overall finish with 6.8 points per game based on a 35 reception, 400-yard, two-touchdown season. It’s unlikely the UFA returns to the Saints for his 16th season at age 38.
Josh Hill (Jan ADP: N/A)
Remember back in 2015 when Jimmy Graham was traded to the Seahawks and the fantasy community was all in a tizzy about the potential of Josh Hill? I do. Unfortunately, it hasn’t resulted in much as he was the backup to the aging Watson.
Dan Arnold (Jan ADP: 239, TE39)
The undrafted converted wide receiver was the lone bright spot at the tight end position for the Saints in 2018. He had his best game in week 12 where Brees targeted him six times. Arnold caught four of them for 45 yards and a touchdown. That performance prompted dynasty owners to make him a priority waiver wire add in week 13.
Arnold was picked up by two drafters in the final round of January mock drafts and is the only Saints tight end currently ranked by the DLF staff where he comes in at TE37.