The New Orleans Saints offense has undergone a rebrand for the 2023 Fantasy Football season after signing Derek Carr. The offense should have a more pass-heavy approach and a more aggressive look in the passing game moving on from Andy Dalton. This is good news for Chris Olave if he can develop an early rapport with Carr. The backfield also takes a different shape given the uncertainty behind Alvin Kamara and a potential looming suspension combined with the fact that the Saints drafted Kendre Miller. The final wild card in this offense is Michael Thomas -- will he finally return to the field and stay healthy?
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Saints' entire team outlook, including a burning question for Fantasy managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for notable Saints players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
- NFC South: | |
Saints 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
The Saints have been pretty rudderless since Drew Brees' retirement, but they're hoping Derek Carr can at least provide a direction. That direction might be toward 9-8, but in the NFC South that might be enough to get them back to the playoffs for the first time without Brees since 2000.
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Burning question: How many games will Kamara play?
Kamara is facing criminal charges stemming from an incident last offseason, with a trial expected to begin during training camp. He will likely face some kind of suspension from the NFL once that trial is complete, but whether that will happen during this season still remains uncertain. Kamara could end up avoiding punishment for another year, or he could be suspended for a significant portion of the 2023 season before training camp is out. There's a pretty wide range of potential outcomes, but given the additions of Jamaal Williams and third-round rookie Kendre Miller -- and Kamara's diminished passing game usage in the second half of last season -- it's fair to be skeptical that he's going to be a focal point. Kamara still has upside, but there's also real risk that he's just a non-factor in 2023.
Saints player projections
|PA: 557, YD: 4014, TD: 26, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT: 24, YD: 84, TD: 1
|CAR: 145, YD: 579, TD: 4; TAR: 67, REC: 50, YD: 427, TD: 3
|CAR: 159, YD: 637, TD: 5; TAR: 28, REC: 20, YD: 156, TD: 1
|CAR: 58, YD: 249, TD: 2; TAR: 28, REC: 22, YD: 178, TD: 1
|TAR: 139, REC: 86, YD: 1167, TD: 7
|TAR: 117, REC: 78, YD: 839, TD: 5
|TAR: 45, REC: 29, YD: 406, TD: 2
|TAR: 95, REC: 60, YD: 678, TD: 4
|TAR: 17, REC: 11, YD: 96, TD: 1; RUSH -- CAR: 96, YD: 482, TD: 5
2023 NFL Draft class
Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 2nd easiest
- RB PSoS: 3rd easiest
- WR PSoS: 2nd easiest
- TE PSoS: 2nd easiest
Saints 2023 player outlooks
By Dan Schneier unless otherwise noted
QB Derek Carr
By Heath Cummings
Carr joined the Saints this offseason, but we don't expect the change of scenery to have a big impact on his Fantasy value. Once again, we're viewing Carr as a low-end QB2 who should be drafted in the final rounds as a backup in one-quarterback leagues. He is actually more valuable in leagues where you can start two QBs because of his floor, which is greatly enhanced by his job security. The way Carr beats those expectations is if Chris Olave and Michael Thomas both stay healthy all year and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael makes a major change to his game plan, which had the Saints at 26th in the NFL in pass attempts last year. In that scenario, Carr could sneak into the QB12 discussion.
Winston returns to the Saints despite a disappointing 2022 season where he was surprised to not get another opportunity to start after Dalton took over following his injury. He returns to back up Derek Carr, another veteran quarterback and also someone who was benched at one point last season. The Saints' deal with Carr isn't a commitment to him long term, so it wouldn't be a total surprise to see Winston start some games in 2023. If he plays, Winston has back-end QB1 upside if the Saints let him air it out to Chris Olave.
QB Jake Haener
Haener improved drastically during his final season at Fresno State, and no quarterback in this 2023 NFL Draft class had a higher completion rate. The Saints will look to develop him similar to Drew Brees, but it's hard to make the case that he's anywhere near the elite talent Brees was in his prime. Ultimately, Haener's chances of finding consistent playing time will depend on how much of an edge he brings to the table from a mental processing standpoint. Without a rushing profile, it's hard to get excited about him in Dynasty leagues and he's unlikely to play at all as a rookie with both Derek Carr and Jameis Winston ahead of him. Haener isn't worth more than a fourth-round pick in two-QB or Superflex rookie drafts and should go undrafted in one-QB rookie-only drafts.
RB Alvin Kamara
Kamara has a potential multi-game suspension looming over him at the time of this publication and that will drastically impact his Fantasy value. Assuming he plays in 2023, there are still major question marks in his Fantasy profile. Kamara's passing game role without Sean Payton remains the biggest concern. Kamara didn't catch more than two passes in a game from Week 13 on. This is a far cry from the days where he was catching 81 passes a season under Payton. Kamara also loses touches to Taysom Hill in the red zone, the Saints signed the most efficient red-zone RB in 2022 (Jamaal Williams) and they drafted his likely long-term replacement in Kendre Miller. Kamara feels risky anywhere inside the first 10 rounds if he remains on the Saints roster and misses time with a suspension.
RB Jamaal Williams
By Dave Richard
Williams will be part of the Saints' running back committee in 2023, a deeper and more talented group than the one he led in Motown a year ago. With the Lions, Williams had 274 touches and over 1,100 total yards with a ridiculous 17 touchdowns (13 from two yards or closer). In New Orleans, Williams will likely share carries with Alvin Kamara and isn't even promised a short-yardage goal-line role since Taysom Hill has excelled there. There's some upside for a lead role in any games if Kamara is suspended, but he'll even share then with rookie Kendre Miller. Point is, Williams is in a much messier situation this season without the guarantee to score even eight times. If you draft accordingly and take him after 100th overall, you should be satisfied with him as a solid bench RB.
RB Kendre Miller
The Saints clearly targeted Miller and it was easy to see why if you watched the Cinderella story that was the TCU Horned Frogs in 2022. Miller was the lifeblood of that offense and his absence was felt when he had to miss time. Miller has a complete three-down profile and could evolve into one of the better receiving options at the RB position. He also forces missed tackles and creates yards after contact at rates that are wise to bet on. Miller makes for a high-upside dart throw in the Round 14 range, but his value will also be drastically altered by any Alvin Kamara suspension. Kendre Miller is a nice target in the second round of your rookie-only drafts.
WR Chris Olave
Olave had some of the highest highs as a rookie in 2022 despite inconsistent and unaggressive quarterback play. Nothing was more impressive about Olave's rookie season than his 1,531 air yards (eighth-most). They showed off his ability to create separation on the vertical plane. He also commanded a 25% target share overall. Consistency was an issue for Olave and he finished eight games during his rookie season as a WR3 or worse. However, a lot of that was luck; he scored just five times. Positive touchdown regression seems likely in 2023. Olave is a popular breakout pick in 2023 and you'll have to use a third-round pick to get him.
WR Michael Thomas
Thomas looked like his old self in 2022 training camp and that had Fantasy managers excited enough to use as high as a fifth-round pick on him in early summer drafts, but it didn't take long for him to deal with his first injury. Ultimately, Thomas was placed on injured reserve after appearing in just three games. Of course, in those three games Thomas looked a lot like his old self, specifically in the red zone where he dominated targets and scored three touchdowns in just three games. If you can grab Thomas in Round 10, he's worth the risk as most of the talent with anywhere near his upside has dried up by that point anyway.
WR Rashid Shaheed
Shaheed is one of the more popular deep, deep sleepers after finishing as a WR3 or better in each of his final seven games of the season. In order for Shaheed to become a Fantasy relevant WR again, he'll need volume, and that means Michael Thomas will have to be traded, cut or injured again. If that happens, Shaheed has a realistic opportunity of earning the second-biggest target share behind Chris Olave. In that scenario, Shaheed is worth a late-round draft pick.
WR A.T. Perry
If you took one look at Perry's 2022 season stats and his frame, you'd wonder how he wasn't selected in the first couple of rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. A closer evaluation of his film shows you that he played in an offensive system that requires a projection to the NFL level. Perry's ability to create consistent separation against NFL defensive backs is a projection, but the 6-foot-4 prospect did rack up 15 touchdowns and 10 catches of 20-plus yards in 2022. Perry should not be on your redraft radar and is better off left on your waiver wire in Dynasty leagues. Perry is a fine gamble in the final round of your rookie-only drafts.
TE Juwan Johnson
Johnson is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the Saints' decision to trade Adam Trautman, and he was quietly productive in 2022 mostly benefiting from Andy Dalton's unaggressive approach. Johnson finished as a top-12 tight end (11) in PPR in large part due to his seven touchdowns. That number seems likely to regress in 2023. Let someone else chase that 2022 production in Round 11.
TE Taysom Hill
Hill remained a highly-effective option in the red zone for the Saints in 2022 en route to finishing as the fifth-best tight end in Fantasy (half-point PPR). The issue is that you couldn't count on Hill on a weekly basis. One week, he'd blow up for 100-plus yards and multiple touchdowns, and the next week he'd put up a goose egg. Hill makes for a better Best Ball format pick. If you start him in 2023, it seems more likely that it will come after adding him at some point via the waiver wire.
K Will Lutz
Lutz was one of the least effective kickers in 2022, averaging the 32nd-most Fantasy points per game in 2022. The Saints offense has slightly improved, but Lutz's best days are behind him. You can do better at kicker.
The Saints averaged the 16th-most Fantasy points per game in 2022 and focused this offseason on shoring up the middle of the defensive line, bringing in Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepard in free agency before spending a first-round pick on Clemson product Bryan Bresee. The Saints DST is best left as streaming options for great matchups.