The Derek Carr era with the New Orleans Saints is upon us. A new quarterback under center for the Saints is enough of a change for me to believe they can win the NFC South after missing the playoffs entirely last season. Carr’s arrival will have a significant impact on their offense which is great news for fantasy football.
New Orleans Saints Fantasy Football Preview
Key Subtractions and Additions
Subtractions: Sean Payton (former head coach), Andy Dalton (QB), Marcus Davenport (DE), Shy Tuttle (DT), David Onyemata (DT), Kaden Ellis (LB), Jarvis Landry (WR)
Additions: Derek Carr (QB), Jamaal Williams (RB), Foster Moreau (TE), Nathan Shepherd (DE), Khalen Saunders (DT), Bryan Bresee (rookie DT), Isaiah Foskey (rookie DE), Kendre Miller (rookie RB),
The New Orleans Saints have a new franchise quarterback in Derek Carr. He’s the best option they’ve had at the position since Drew Brees. While his presence under center is an upgrade for the entire offense, Carr’s own fantasy outlook will remain lackluster.
The 2023 season will be Carr’s 10th in the league. In 2016, in which Carr received a few MVP votes, he also finished as the QB10 in fantasy football on a points per game basis. However, in Carr’s other eight seasons, he hasn’t finished higher than QB18 in any of them.
A big reason why is Carr’s lack of rushing upside. In 142 career regular-season games, he’s averaged less than two rushing attempts per game. His 845 total rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns over nine seasons account for an average of just 13.8 fantasy points from rushing per season.
Derek Carr is capable of leading an offense and, more importantly, supporting top fantasy wide receivers. Just last season Davante Adams finished as the WR4 with Hunter Renfrow finishing as the WR18 the season prior. If you’re excited about Derek Carr this season, it’s best to invest in him by drafting New Orleans Saints pass catchers. I’m only considering Carr himself in Superflex and Best Ball leagues.
We can’t really get a grasp on the New Orleans Saints’ backfield until we have some clarity regarding the possibility of a suspension for Alvin Kamara. As his drawn-out court case, stemming from a fight during 2021-2022 Pro Bowl partying, gets closer to concluding, we should know how much time, if any at all, Kamara will miss before the season starts.
If Kamara is available for the New Orleans Saints, he is the top option out of their backfield. Even with a career-low of four total touchdowns in 2022, Kamara finished as the RB15 in fantasy football. If he scores just two more touchdowns, we’re talking about another RB1 finish for Kamara. He’s a smooth runner with elite receiving upside on a team with questionable pass catchers.
Assuming Kamara is set to face a suspension of sorts, I think both Jamaal Williams and rookie Kendre Miller can produce as starters in fantasy lineups in most leagues. Williams is coming off a season in which he led the league in rushing touchdowns (17) with the Detroit Lions. Kendre Miller had 17 touchdowns of his own last season at TCU. Neither will see that sort of scoring production, but both are capable of significant workloads. Remember: Derek Carr isn’t a threat at all to steal rushing attempts from any of these running backs.
Miller profiles more as a ground-and-pound, early down back while Williams could be more of an asset on third down in pass protection and as a receiver. That’s a part of his game that he wasn’t asked to do in Detroit but had success with over four years with the Green Bay Packers.
Again, the Average Draft Position for each of these three backs is bound to change depending on whether or not Kamara is suspended. As of now, though, Kamara should be treated as an RB1 while Williams is a flex with upside. Miller is a nice stash for benches if asked to do more at any point of his rookie season.
Chris Olave is the wide receiver I want in 2023 from this New Orleans Saints offense. There’s a case to be made that he could have been last season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. In two fewer games with 28 fewer targets than the winner, New York Jets’ Garrett Wilson, Olave had just 61 fewer yards on 11 fewer receptions with the same amount of receiving touchdowns.
Olave now gets a major boost in quarterback going from Andy Dalton to Derek Carr. His 24.1% target share as a rookie should hold strong with the potential to improve. The only real threat to Olave’s targets is Michael Thomas. It’s justifiable to have doubts about Thomas playing much in 2023 after missing 40 regular season games of a possible 50 over the last three seasons. Thomas is still an elite talent, when available. He’s burned so many fantasy managers at this point that he may actually come at a significant discount in fantasy drafts. Buyer beware!
Rashid Shaheed is a player worth keeping an eye on if you aren’t already. In five games over the final six weeks of last season, Shaheed averaged nearly five targets, four receptions, and 64.8 yards per game. While it’s not eye-popping production, he figures to be the second or third receiver on the New Orleans Saints. A quarterback upgrade and a larger role could set Shaheed up for a breakout of sorts in 2023.
Just as I was thinking about targeting Juwaan Johnson as a late-round tight end this fantasy football season, the New Orleans Saints signed Foster Moreau to a three-year deal. This is after the Saints medical staff discovered Moreau’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis during an initial physical nearly two months ago. One can assume Moreau is making fantastic progress in battling cancer and could be available as soon as this season.
Foster Moreau signing with New Orleans is notable because he’s reuniting with Derek Carr. In fact, Carr is the only quarterback Moreau has played with in his career. With an expanded role last season Moreau was mostly a streamer for fantasy football. Consider, though, he was battling Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Mack Hollins for targets with Josh Jacobs averaging 20 rush attempts per game.
I think the New Orleans Saints tight end position has a chance to draw more targets from Derek Carr than the Las Vegas Raiders’ from last season. We’ll keep an eye on Moreau’s progress through training camp. The contract indicates he will see most of the reps, though. Juwaan Johnson is a dynasty stash and that’s about it for now. Taysom Hill’s relevancy should finally be behind us considering the Saints’ upgrades at quarterback, running back, and tight end this off-season.
The New Orleans Saints defense ranks ninth in least amount of points allowed during the 2022 season. They’re losing a significant amount of starters from last season, but adding young, top talent from the draft. This team ranks top-five in sacks from last season and will look to maintain that level of success in 2023. An improved offense should keep the defense off of the field a bit longer for extended rest, too.
Looking at the New Orleans Saints schedule, they don’t face many elite quarterbacks or teams. They will start their season against Ryan Tannehill and the Titans followed by rookie Bryce Young/Panthers, Jordan Love/Packers, Baker Mayfield/Buccaneers, then Mac Jones/Patriots. In fact, the Saints will play the top-three rookie quarterbacks, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson in 2023, assuming they all start each respective matchup.
The Saints defense could be a set-and-forget unit to start in fantasy football. At worst, they’re a streaming option week-to-week depending on the matchup.
Get a head start on the 2023 fantasy football season and check out all of our Fantasy Team Previews!
I will be hosting a month of best ball leagues this summer; sign up to @Fantrax today and get ready for the best fantasy football season ever! #fantrax #fantasyfootball https://t.co/YtLEhMoo5J pic.twitter.com/ffSt00FY9R
— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) May 6, 2023