2023 New Orleans Saints Team Preview

Jul 2nd 2023

Hayden Winks

The New Orleans Saints added new contributors at QB, RB, WR, and TE this offseason after a middling offensive 2022 season. We can draft them all on Underdog Fantasy with promo code 'UNDERBLOG' to match your first deposit up to $100. We have the biggest fantasy football tournament of all time ($15M) right now.

2022 New Orleans Saints Advanced Stats

I'm worried about the Saints coaching staff. They were last in 4th-down aggressiveness, last in play-action rate, 29th in neutral pace, 29th in neutral pass rate, 25th in special teams DVOA, and 21st in penalty yards. Things like this happen with defensive-minded head coaches, especially with middling QB play. The Saints believe Derek Carr is a big upgrade over Andy Dalton, but that wasn't the case last year at least. Dalton was graded better by PFF, had higher completion percentage over expected, more big time throws, fewer turnover worthy plays, and more yards per attempt. They need that to flip to counteract the poor depth given the Saints recent years of cap trouble.

2023 New Orleans Saints Starting Lineups

3-WR Sets (28th in snaps, 51% of snaps)

  • WR: Chris Olave --> Bryan Edwards

  • WR: Michael Thomas --> A.T. Perry (R)

  • SLOT: Rashid Shaheed --> Tre'Quan Smith

  • TE: Juwan Johnson --> Foster Moreau

2-WR Sets (12th in snaps, 32% of snaps)

  • WR: Chris Olave --> Rashid Shaheed

  • WR: Michael Thomas --> Tre'Quan Smith

  • SLOT TE: Juwan Johnson --> Miller Forristall

  • INLINE TE: Foster Moreau --> Jesse James

RB Usage (28th in expected half PPR)

  • GOAL LINE: Jamaal Williams --> Kendre Miller (R)

  • PASSING DOWN: Alvin Kamara --> Kendre Miller (R)

Offensive Line (overrated)

  • LT: Trevor Penning (2022 1st rounder, 1 start)

  • LG: Andrus Peat (mid returning starter)

  • C: Erik McCoy (mid returning starter)

  • RG: Cesar Ruiz (mid returning starter)

  • RT: Ryan Ramsyzk (great returning starter)

2023 New Orleans Saints Fantasy Preview

Derek Carr has been the 143rd and 220th ranked played in fantasy points over replacement per game over the last two years, as he's settled in a league-average real life signal caller. Carr's environment is fine in New Orleans thanks to some nice skill guys, but the offensive identity and shaky interior OL are reasons for mild statistical expectations. Andy Dalton, who played better than Carr last year, was the QB25 while losing the occasional snap to Taysom. I don't expect Carr to look different in his age-32 season despite the new jersey.

Chris Olave is a stud. His 2.4 yards per route run put him in a rare rookie class, and he did so running real routes at the intermediate and deep levels. Olave can beat press on the perimeter, leaving him with a Calvin Ridley like profile. Even with playing like a total stud, Olave was only the WR34 in fantasy points over replacement per game in this odd offense that gave him just 3.7 expected touchdowns based on his usage. In theory, Carr is an upgrade for Olave because Carr has been more willing to throw deep. In practice, there's not many balls to go around (26th in pass attempts). I fear he's a better in real life player at this Round 2 fantasy cost, but year two is when WRs make the biggest statistical leap. ... Michael Thomas has played 10 games since his 145-catch season in 2019. He only made it 3 games (16-171-3) last year before another lower-body surgery. He's at least lifting heavy and is expected to practice in training camp heading into his age-30 year. Thomas' 1.6 YPRR in a small sample last year was a career low, another sign that he's like a No. 2 possession receiver moving forward. The Saints restructured his contract this offseason to account for the boom-bust nature of his profile. ... Rashid Shaheed is a silent killer, who came out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie en route to a WR62 finish. His deep target excellence will majorly regress, lowering his 2.6 yards per route run from last year. But he ran legit routes and was quite crafty, even underneath. Shaheed is a worse version of the Olave profile, which is a compliment. I like him as a real No. 3 receiver in the NFL.

Juwan Johnson is an underrated TE2, who is a converted WR-to-TE. Last year, he only had 23 routes per game but with Carr likely making New Orleans more pass heavy, Johnson's route volume likely ticks up. His 9.8 average depth of target is a function of his WR background, too. I like his odds of boom-bust TE2 production at cost, especially after New Orleans signed him to a 2-year, $12M contract this offseason despite being a restricted free agent. ... Foster Moreau, who is expected to play despite an offseason medical scare, signed a 2-year, $8M guaranteed contract to be Johnson's complement.

The "Taysom Hill could start games at QB" narrative is likely dead this year with Carr and Jameis Winston ahead of him, so Hill's 2023 projection is largely determined by gadget plays. Last year, he finished as the TE5 on a career high 6.0 carries per game. I don't think that holds. While Kamara certainly could miss 6ish games due to suspension, Hill faces steep competition at the goal line with Gyration King Jamaal Williams and size/speed rookie Kendre Miller in the fold. 29% of Hill's fantasy points last year came on red zone rushes. Without them, he would've been the TE16. Hill is also further removed from Sean Payton (who was his biggest advocate), so his 79 non-red zone carries could take a hit, too. In other words, why pay Carr all that money to sub him out for gadgetry? That leaves me with one final out: TE snaps. The depth chart behind Juwan Johnson is brutal. Hill only played 51 inline snaps last year because he's 221 pounds, however. He simply can't hold up there, so he'll need to be motioned out into the slot or play some play-action fullback to run routes. Even then, he only had a 0.6 yards per route run rate last year when target competition wasn't as strong (Thomas returns). Anything is possible in fantasy land, but I view a repeat of Hill's 2022 season as quite unlikely. I like the breakout odds of other TE2/3s more.

Alvin Kamara faces a 4-6 game suspension, and I saw signs of decline on tape last year (career lows in yards after contact per carry and breakaway run rate). Both are good reasons for why the Saints added two legit players to split RB touches. The 28-year-old will be the passing-down back when on the field, but he could be subbed out at the goal line for Gyration King Jamaal Williams, who was the goal line vulture of the century last year. The Saints gave Twerk God $8M guaranteed this offseason (that's a lot), then drafted rookie Kendre Miller in Round 3. Miller actually reminds me of Williams, as both a goal line option and potential pass-game contributor. Miller's pre-draft profile was that of a quality fantasy sleeper, but it's very hard to make the math work for this committee. The Saints were 28th in expected fantasy points to their RBs last year, while playing behind maybe the most overrated OL in the league.

2023 New Orleans Saints Fantasy ADPs

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  • WR12 Chris Olave (19.1 overall) --> Fading

  • WR47 Michael Thomas (93.0) --> Mixing in

  • RB32 Alvin Kamara (101.3) --> Fading

  • RB42 Jamaal Williams (126.8) --> Mixing in

  • RB45 Kendre Miller (138.6) --> Fading

  • QB19 Derek Carr (145.9) --> Soft fading

  • TE19 Taysom Hill (162.5) --> Fading

  • WR74 Rashid Shaheed (165.7) --> Mixing in

  • TE21 Juwan Johnson (168.2) --> Mixing in