The Extra Point: Grading the Saints’ fantasy football values

The Extra Point: Grading the Saints’ fantasy football values
Saints center Erik McCoy readies to snap the ball as Drew Brees audibles at the line of scrimmage (Source: Mark Lagrange)


As long as this team has Sean Payton and Drew Brees at the helm, the fantasy football value of any key player on offense will be among the highest at their position. In a lot of ways, my 2020 rankings look a lot like they did in 2019. Let’s begin.

1. WR Michael Thomas

Overall Grade: 9.7

Big-game potential: 10.0

Draft value: 9.0

Consistency: 10.0

The only knock on Thomas is how high you’ll have to pick him if you want him on your roster, especially in PPR leagues. He broke through the league record with 149 catches in 2019, and he has eyes on breaking the 150 mark already this year.

Any given week, you can expect a floor of six or seven catches, but against weaker secondaries, Thomas can easily reach double-digit receptions and top 100 yards. His catch and yardage numbers are so good that touchdowns can sometimes become an afterthought and a bonus. He’s totaled nine touchdowns each of the last two seasons, and if Brees plays a full season, that number could easily be more in 2020. You can’t go wrong with Can’t Guard Mike.

2. RB Alvin Kamara

Overall Grade: 9.0

Big-game potential: 9.0

Draft value: 8.5

Consistency: 9.5

A year ago, you had to have the first or second overall pick to have a chance at drafting Alvin Kamara. But after a less productive 2019 campaign, he’s fallen down a few draft boards. He’s 5th on ESPN’s PPR rankings as RB5, and I think that’s crazy.

By now, it’s well-documented that Kamara played hurt for most of the year. Now back to his normal self, his statistics should be as well. I wouldn’t worry at all about selecting him 2nd or 3rd behind Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott. He’s good for 20+ touches per game, and could easily see more against tougher opponents when the game’s on the line. Once the explosive plays are back to occurring regularly, Kamara could find himself at the top of the fantasy football running back rankings once again.

3. QB Drew Brees

Overall Grade: 8.7

Big-game potential: 8.5

Draft value: 9.0

Consistency: 8.5

Age is nothing but a number when it comes to Brees. And this year, age is helping his fantasy football value. We haven’t seen much to doubt his ability. In fact, his interception numbers have been lower than ever the last three seasons. And while the Saints have become more effective running the ball, limiting the number of pass touchdowns we’ll see from Brees, he’s still got enough in the tank to do some damage.

What that means for his fantasy stock is Brees is available very late in many drafts. He may go earlier than normal in local leagues, but otherwise, he’ll be available in the 9th or 10th round, making him a perfect QB1 candidate to lead your team full of strong receiver and running back options.

T4. TE Jared Cook

Overall Grade: 8.3

Big-game potential: 7.0

Draft value: 10.0

Consistency: 8.0

I think the recipe for a good fantasy team is building your depth early at the key positions and addressing tight end and quarterback later. Like his quarterback, Jared Cook is the perfect candidate for that strategy. He should be around in the 8th, 9th or 10th round.

He’s not a tight end like Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Zach Ertz that will draw a ton of targets. So he’s a little more touchdown dependent. Good thing he’s a big factor in the red zone, and that’s all you can ask for at the position. In limited time together in 2019, Brees and Cook connected for seven touchdowns and a few more chunk plays. Look for more of those in 2020.

T4. WR Emmanuel Sanders

Overall Grade: 8.3

Big-game potential: 7.5

Draft value: 9.5

Consistency: 8.0

Similar to how I feel about Cook, I think Sanders will have his moments. He won’t get the share of the Targets that Thomas will, but his versatility and big-play ability down the field are valuable traits. Sanders is a reliable veteran that’s going in the 9th or 10th round of many drafts, and depending on the match-up, his value week-to-week could be much higher.

When you consider the attention that defenses will give Mike Thomas and the favorable match-ups that will create for Sanders, it’s easy to see him having some highly productive weeks as your WR2 or FLEX.

6. K Wil Lutz

Overall Grade: 7.8

Big-game potential: 7.5

Draft value: 7.0

Consistency: 9.0

Most kickers, I wouldn’t value grading, but Lutz is among the best for fantasy football. He’s as consistent as they come, and because of the strength of the Saints offense, should find himself getting plenty of field goal attempts. Not to mention, they aren’t afraid of giving him some valuable looks at 50-yarders. I’m not saying go crazy and take him in the 10th or 11th round, but when you get around to thinking kicker, he should be near the top of your list.

T7. RB Latavius Murray

Overall Grade: 7.0

Big-game potential: 6.0

Draft value: 8.0

Consistency: 7.0

My issue with Murray is he’s still going in the 9th or 10th round. Yes, he’s a valuable handcuff behind Kamara, but that’s only in the case that Kamara is completely unavailable. When AK is active, I don’t see Murray getting enough of the workload to warrant playing him as a flex. I think there are more valuable backup RB’s that could be drafted in those round that will have more week-to-week value.

That said, if he’s still available in the 12th or 13, go for it. Good stash to have, especially if you have Kamara on your own roster.

T7. Saints Defense / Special Teams

Overall Grade: 7.0

Big-game potential: 7.0

Draft value: 7.0

Consistency: 7.0

Fantasy Pros has the Saints as their 7th-best defense. A big part of the boost this year is returner Deonte Harris. He’s a big threat to take any punt or kick to the house.

But I also believe this unit has more confidence than ever, which will translate into some solid performances. Marshon Lattimore is finally paired alongside another talented corner in Janoris Jenkins. And there are more than enough promising options on the defensive line to generate pass rush. Turnovers and sacks could be on the rise right along with the stock of this defensive unit as a regular fantasy play.

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