2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: New Orleans Saints
Andrew Cooper dives into a player-by-player breakdown of the New Orleans Saints to help you make those tough decisions on dynasty fantasy football rosters during the 2023 NFL offseason!
Pretty much all the teams in this division have the same question they need answered before they decide which direction they are going in. We talked about it with the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already. Who is going to get the veteran quarterbacks like Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers? If you get a QB like that, you are ready to compete now so you are retooling right away and making a run. If you don’t, maybe you draft a QB and enter rebuild mode. That question is pivotal and will determine the future for a lot of players on the New Orleans Saints roster.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
New Orleans Saints Quarterback
The Saints have one quarterback under contract for 2023.
Jameis Winston - age 29
Contract: Winston is under contract for 2023 then he will become a free agent. He carries $11.2 mil in dead cap with only $4.4 mil in savings if released or traded but, with a post June-1 designation that can be spread over two years freeing up $12.8 million in space this year.
Outlook: The recent words from Jameis Winston are interesting. When asked, he said “technically I’m not a free agent, I have one more year”. We put the emphasis on “technically” because using that word there is telling - that doesn’t sound like a guy who is planning on being the starting QB for this team. He also added that all he’s focused on is being ready for the next time he gets his shot. But, as of right now, he’s the only QB on the roster so he’s technically in the driver’s seat if the Saints don’t make a big move.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - In a single QB league you don’t need to hold. But, in superflex and 2 QB, your hands are tied to a certain degree. There is no trade market for him but potential starters are too valuable to drop. And we know this guy can sling it under the right circumstances. So you just have to hang tight.
FREE AGENTS: Andy Dalton
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
Everything is on the table for the New Orlean Saints. Trading for a veteran. Signing a veteran. Drafting a rookie. And there are rumors floating for all of them. Unfortunately, the Saints traded their first round pick to the Eagles so a couple of the QB options in the draft are off the table without a trade up. The Saints do have a selection in this first with a pick they acquired via trade but that is at 29.
New Orleans Saints Running Backs
The Saints have three running backs under contract and one signed to a reserves/future deal.
Alvin Kamara - age 27
Contract: Alvin Kamara is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Alvin Kamara is a star. But he’s also getting up there in age for a running back. On top of that, he has a trial pending on assault charges stemming from an incident in Las Vegas. So his situation isn’t as simple as you might think.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD/SELL - Or is it? The more I think about it, it’s not that hard to deal with Kamara in dynasty. If you are a top team in your league, you keep him since he will slot somewhere into your lineup come playoffs. He had 77 targets in 15 games and was RB13 in PPR points per game. If you aren't, you sell him. And that’s as simple as turning to leaguemates and saying “I need to rebuild so I have no use for Kamara - who wants him?” Someone will. He’s Alvin Kamara.
Eno Benjamin - age 23
Contract: Eno Benjamin was claimed off waivers so he has no guaranteed money tied to him - he can be cut for ~$1 mil in savings with no dead cap.
Outlook: Sometimes in the dynasty community the hype for guys doesn’t match the reality. The name Eno Benjamin was bounced around all over the place as a sneaky upside guy but the reality is he’s not particularly big, not particularly fast, and he was a seventh round pick.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - A pending Alvin Kamara suspension might present the perfect opportunity to sell Eno Benjamin - especially if you can do it now before the Saints inevitably add to that RB room this offseason. You might need to hold until closer to the season and the Kamara suspension becomes more palpable though. If you need the roster spot to make your rookie picks before then, he’s absolutely droppable.
Dwayne Washington - age 28
Contract: Washington is under contract for 2023. He can be cut with $940K in savings with no dead cap.
Outlook: Dwayne Washington is a journeyman plodder. He has six receptions over the last six years.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - No need to really hold Washington unless you think you can squeeze water out of stone with a trade to the Kamara owner.
RESERVE/FUTURE: Derrick Gore
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
The Saints have to do something here with the assumption that Kamara gets suspended. Dwayne Washington on early downs with Eno Benjamin on pass downs not only isn’t appealing but it simply isn’t enough. At the very least they should add someone that can contribute on early downs which would compliment Kamara well when he returns. Or maybe a guy like Leonard Fournette could hold the job down for the first half of the year. They could also consider drafting the RB of the future in this draft if the right guy is there.
New Orleans Saints Wide Receivers
The Saints have four wide receivers under contract for 2023 with three signed to reserve/future deals.
Michael Thomas - age 30
Contract: Michael Thomas is under contract through 2024 but he signed a restructure right at the end of 2023 that essentially means he will be released or he will need to restructure his deal again to stay.
Outlook: At the end of the 2023 season, the Saints negotiated a deal with Thomas that gave him an extra $1 million on the spot and made it so he could be released this off-season and immediately become a free agent (where he could sign with other teams before official free agency). Josh Wilson of fansided pointed out that this is similar to what they did with Drew Brees before he retired. However, now Nick Underhill of The Athletic has pointed out that maybe it was premature to assume Thomas was gone as he could essentially rework his deal to remain with the Saints.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - Call me crazy, but I think Michael Thomas still has something left in the tank. And he doesn’t need to be “set the record for targets” Michael Thomas to crack your lineup. This new contract situation is actually great for Thomas if you ask me - if they can get Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr, he restructures and stays. If they don’t, he’s free to go play with whoever he wants. The risk of course is that he retires or maybe the injuries have completely sapped him but it’s not like you are paying a first round pick for him at this stage. Our friend Alex Korff’s trade charts (which use composite rankings to gauge trade value based on community sentiment) suggest that you could have him for an early third. I look at the hit rate for third round WRs and the chances of Michael Thomas having another WR2/WR3 season and I’m betting my money on MT.
Chris Olave - age 22
Contract: Chris Olave was a first round pick in 2022 so he’s under contract through 2025 and they can pick up his fifth year option for 2026.
Outlook: Despite a less than ideal QB situation, Chris Olave came out and produced immediately in his rookie season with 72 catches for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns. And that’s while missing two games. As this tweet from Alfredo Brown of Football Guys points out, his production was right in line with Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - It’s almost a blessing in disguise that Garrett Wilson was the Offensive Rookie of the Year instead of Olave. Because virtually every set of dynasty rankings or trade chart has Wilson ahead when it’s honestly not that far off. In 2010 the Buccaneers Mike Williams (not to be confused with Chargers Mike Williams) had far and away the best rookie season. Better than Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker, Antonio Brown, Golden Tate etc. But, given that list of names and the fact that you might not even remember that there was another Mike Williams, it’s pretty clear he didn’t have the best career overall of the guys in that draft. The truth is we don’t know who the best WR from this class will be - could be Wilson, could be Olave, could be London, could be Watson - we can make our best estimation but we don’t know. It’s close enough for me that I will take the slight discount on guys like Olave and London vs. the guy with the Rookie of the Year trophy. Who I also like at the right price, if you read the Jets article. We just like discounts.
Tre’Quan Smith - age 27
Contract: Tre’Quan Smith is under contract for 2023. He can be cut with $1.5 mil dead cap, $1.9 mil savings.
Outlook: Every once in a while, Tre’Quan Smith makes a play that makes you say “wow”. But it’s hard to slot him into a lineup since we have no idea when “every once in a while” will come. We also don’t know if he will make the team at all this year as his snaps really tailed off towards the end of last season.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - I’m holding him at least until we see what happens with Michael Thomas. Not because I want to actually start him in my lineup but because I might be able to trade him to that guy who just looks at the depth charts. Tre’Quan Smith might be second on the depth chart at that point in which case you can move him before they bring someone else in.
Rashid Shaheed- age 24
Contract: Shaheed was elevated from the practice squad which means he is under contract for $870K with no dead cap in 2023. He is an exclusive rights free agent in 2024 meaning they can keep him for the veteran minimum with no competition from other teams.
Outlook: We’re happy to say Rashid Shaheed was on the Shaheed train early when he started to outsnap Tre’Quan Smith. He ended the season starting five straight games with 3+ targets in each. Bonus points for having an awesome name.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - I’ve said it throughout this series - I’m a conservative gambler. If I hit on a low odds bet, I’m not going to double down on that wager and let it ride. I’m going to cash that out and place it on better odds. The reality is that Shaheed wouldn’t have gotten an opportunity at all if not for injuries to Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. Chris Olave and Marquez Callaway also missed time. Olave is going to be the top wide receiver here and that leaves essentially one fantasy relevant spot after him - if that. If Shaheed does end up a full time starter, he profiles as more of a speedy field stretcher which is often boom/bust in fantasy. But don’t be sad that we suggest you should sell him - you should be happy that you added an undrafted free agent to your roster and you were able to turn him into a draft pick at all. The folks that sold Preston Williams during that hype were the real winners, not the guys who hung on.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
There is a world where the Saints add a QB, convince Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry to stay and then they have Michael Thomas at split end, Chris Olave at flanker, Jarvis Landry at slot, and Tre’Quan Smith/Rashid Shaheed as the field stretcher. There is also a world where Jarvis Landry walks then Michael Thomas and/or Tre’Quan Smith are released. That’s why we are willing to pay such a premium for Chris Olave - he’s the only one who is truly “safe” here.
New Orleans Saints Tight Ends
The Saints have two tight ends under contract and one signed to a reserve/future contract.
Taysom Hill- age 32
Contract: Taysom Hill is under contract through 2025. There is no easy out from his contract in 2023.
Outlook: We all know what Taysom Hill is - he’s a gadget QB that you can technically start in a TE spot on some platforms. He’s listed under TE here because he’s not viable at QB.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - He’s an incredibly high risk, high reward play because he’s capable of two TDs at any time and he’s also capable of literally zero points. That’s what makes him so high risk/high reward in dynasty for the long term as well - we would not be surprised to see him not have a role at all but there’s also the chance he starts at QB at some point and now you have a starting QB in your TE spot. If someone is willing to buy, we are selling and freeing ourselves from this headache.
Adam Trautman - age 26
Contract: Adam Trautman is under contract through 2023.
Outlook: We were hopeful for Trautman given his pass catching profile in college and he actually did get some targets early on. But he went from pass blocking on 15% of his snaps as a rookie to 21% as a sophomore and now 29% in his third year. Not great, Bob.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - There was some hype around this guy previously and, now that Juwan Johnson is a free agent, you might be able to offload him. But his journey into being a blocking tight end is pretty obvious for those paying attention so you really don’t need to hold him on your roster.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
We’ll write about Juwan Johnson in our Free Agent Tight Ends article but it would make a lot of sense to bring him back considering he’s a converted WR that plays a ton of slot and they are likely losing Jarvis Landry too. Like it or not, guys with the tight end label are just cheaper to sign. If they don’t bring him back then they will likely be in the market for a tight end that skews pass catching as Trautman skews blocking. A guy like Mike Gesicki could fill that Juwan Johnson role or cheaper versions of that would be guys like Dan Arnold or Anthony Firkser. As always, they could hit on the position in the draft as well.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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