Death, taxes, and the New Orleans Saints losing a heartbreaking playoff game. There are really only three constants in the universe. They lost the 2019 playoffs on a not-push-off from Kyle Rudolph that became a push-off in the Super Bowl when George Kittle did it. Truly heartbreaking stuff from the Saints. Unlike the New England Patriots, however, they do not face the cold fear of a season without their franchise QB. Drew Brees announced on Instagram this morning that he would return for 2020. What should we remember from the Saints’ 2019 season for 2020 fantasy drafts?
What to Remember from the 2019 New Orleans Saints Season
- If you looked up and down in-season bust lists you frequently saw running back Alvin Kamara. The fantasy football stud back suddenly found himself buried in the rankings. A two-game absence with an ankle injury certainly didn’t help matters, but prior to that, the top-four back ranked eleventh. Why? Touchdown luck. Pure, simple, touchdown luck. Prior to the 2019 season, Kamara turned 476 touches into 31 touchdowns. That comes out to just about one touchdown every fifteen touches. In 2019, he scored every 44.6 touches. He scored at one-third the rate he did previously. The only appreciable difference across the board in his numbers is a lower receiving yards per game. He hit exactly 81 receptions for the third time in three years and averaged 95 yards per game. He wasn’t a bust, he just had bad touchdown luck.
- With Drew Brees announcing his return on Instagram, the weirdest news out of the Saints’ QB room isn’t a guy who turns 30 soon with 13 career pass attempts insisting that he’s a franchise QB in disguise. Recent news came out that Teddy Bridgewater’s camp seeks $30,000,000 per year. I mean, me too. How did Bridgewater fare in 2019 in his time under center for the injured Drew Brees? First, don’t worry about the weapons wherever he goes. Michael Thomas averaged 8.4 receptions and 110 yards and had three touchdowns in his five games with Bridgewater. That’s more yards per game than he averaged with Brees. Bridgewater played competently enough for fantasy football purposes, playing on a 3,856 yard, 29 touchdowns, 6 interception pace in his starts. He’ll slot in nicely in the Kirk Cousins tier of fantasy football QB10 to QB18 depending on the matchup.
- We might have to face facts with Tre’Quan Smith after his first two seasons in the league. He’s exceptionally talented, but there isn’t room for him in the current iteration of the Saints’ offense. Smith, a fantasy football darling, garnered just 25 targets this season. Yet, people insisted he was just waiting to strike. He had fewer targets than the backup tight end and backup running back. Unfortunately, something huge needs to happen to everyone ahead of him in the depth chart, or he needs to take a big step forward, to have any sort of 2020 fantasy football relevance. He has 46 touches over his first two seasons and has ten touchdowns, so he has touchdown upside, but at this point, not much else.
- Maybe the fifth time’s the charm? Jared Cook followed Delanie Walker’s playbook, waiting until his 30s before becoming a quality fantasy football option. We (the royal we, I never fell for it) spent years just waiting for the Jared Cook breakout that never came. Then, in his tenth season in 2019, the Raiders leaned heavily on Cook. He finished as a quality fantasy football TE option on volume alone. In 2020, he turned into a quality fantasy football option… for real. He ranked sixteenth in targets (behind Noah Fant, Evan Engram, and Jack Doyle), but tied George Kittle in air yards. He became a real threat; a real weapon for Drew Brees & Co. Jared Cook is the only top-ten TE who ended with fewer than 75 targets, speaking to his efficiency tip. Therefore, he finally stands as an efficient top-ten tight end, and not one who ended up there through volume.
- Drew Brees didn’t miss a single, solitary beat in his return from his hand injury this season. His final numbers are not spectacular (missing some or all of six games will do that). However, he finished with at least 370 passing yards and/or three touchdowns in eight-of-ten games he started last season, including fifteen touchdowns in his last four games last year. Brees was on fire and averaged 286 yards, 2.8 touchdowns, and 0.2 interceptions after his injury. He played great, and he’s worth taking the discount on in 2020 fantasy football drafts.