Fantasy Football Booms/Busts 2018: The New Orleans Saints

Missing four games due to suspension, Mark Ingram is a disputed fantasy value in Round 4 of 12-team drafts. Should you invest? (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Missing four games due to suspension, Mark Ingram is a disputed fantasy value in Round 4 of 12-team drafts. Should you invest? (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The Bourbon Street Bombers.

Ignoring obvious names Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, what Saint has the most BOOM potential in 2018?

Brad – CAMERON MEREDITH. As Loza discusses below, Scott is one of my favorite late-draft targets. His bowling ball build, per-touch efficiency at Louisiana Tech (3.87 YAC/att; No. 3 in elusive rating among all FBS rushers) and versatile skill set, sets him apart from competitors vying to fill the power back role with Mark Ingram sidelined. The wide receiver, though, also deserves a mention.

Most have forgotten about Meredith. Before shredding his knee last August, he was a fixture on “sleeper” and “undervalued” lists, a receiver posed to break out. Remember how good he was down the stretch in 2016? Let me refresh your memory. During the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16), he was the second-most valuable WR, totaling a 33-24-311-2 line. Proficient in multiple capacities, Meredith, according to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, finished that season top-12 at the position in dig, post, comeback and flat success rates. Yes, Michael Thomas, and his super jacked frame, is Brees’ primary weapon of choice, but Meredith is in line to net 18-20 percent of the target share, especially if he secures the slot gig. Ahead of schedule in his ACL recovery, he’s a WR3 available at a WR5 price (140.3 ADP, WR50).

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Liz – BOSTON SCOTT. What do Boston Scott, acts of kindness, bullet ants, and toddlers have in common? They’re all small, but mighty. Except that Scott is more than strong… he’s fast and crazy elusive too. With a breath-catching stiff arm, dizzying spin move, and popcorn-worthy truck stick, the 5-foot-7 and 195-pound rookie isn’t any ordinary satellite back. Boasting elite speed (4.40) and above average power (21 reps via the bench press), he’s a well-rounded RB with outlier potential.

Suspended for four-games for violating the league’s PED policy, Mark Ingram will miss the first month of the regular season. That’s not a good look for the vet, who’s in the last year of his deal. As the organization transitions Alvin Kamara to the lead back role, Scott has a chance to play second fiddle. I get that there are other bodies on the roster, but Jonathan Williams, Daniel Lasco, and Trey Edmunds can’t touch Scott’s ceiling. This hometown prospect is a headline waiting to happen.

Mark Ingram’s average ADP since his four-game suspension was levied is 39.2 (RB20). At that price point is the rusher OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED or PROPERLY VALUED??

Liz – OVERVALUED (slightly). Sean Payton is wild man with a reputation for hotheadedness. He and Ingram have sparred in the past and he was reportedly peeved that Ingram skipped OTAs. Entering the last year of his deal, the veteran RB isn’t an automatic lock for 14+ carries per game, not with so many other options available. Without that guarantee, it’s hard to imagine that Ingram makes up enough ground to stay inside the top-twenty players at the position.

Brad – PROPERLY VALUED. Unlike other Alabama products, Ingram, after a rocky career start, has lived up to his pro promise. In .5 PPR, he’s finished RB12 or higher in four-straight seasons. His underlying metrics have also impressed. Last fall, he ranked top-10 in total breakaway runs, yards after contact per attempt (3.1), red-zone touches and catch rate (81.7%). Toss in the Saints’ elite run-blocking line and he’s very dependable.

Missing four games, however, comprises 30.8 percent of the fantasy season. Think about that. If I had 30.8 percent more active follicles on my dome, I would sport a Paul Rudd head salad. It’s a significant chunk. Given the questions tied to RBs in a similar tier (e.g. Derrick Henry, Derrius Guice, Kenyan Drake and Rashaad Penny), Ingram’s perceived worth feels right.

In 2017, Drew Brees failed to throw 30 touchdowns for the first time in 10 seasons. OVER or UNDER 29.5 passing TDs this fall?

Brad – UNDER. For years Drew Brees resembled the beignets from the world famous Cafe Du Monde – unchanged, decadent, highly sought after. Fantasy owners far and wide lined up on draft day in the hopes of consuming his delicious numbers. Going back to his days in San Diego, he finished No. 9 or better in overall QB production 13 consecutive seasons, seven of those inside the top-five. Then 2017 happened.

New Orleans underwent an offensive metamorphosis last season. A run-centered dose of Kamara and Ingram replaced the air-first system fantasy owners had grown accustomed to. As a result, Brees finished outside the position’s top-10, experiencing a dramatic decline in passing touchdowns (23) and yards per game (270.9). The future HOFer remains one of the game’s most accurate passers and his aggressiveness downfield (8.1 ypa in ’17) hasn’t waned, but the Saints’ defensive emphasis combined with a strong ground attack arrow to a 25-27 TD campaign. At his QB7 ADP (97.6 overall), he’s appropriately valued.

Liz – UNDER. In 2016 the Saints racked up the nineteenth most rushing attempts (404) in the league. The following year, however, New Orleans prioritized the running game and managed the FIFTH most totes in the NFL (444). This was clearly done to exploit Alvin Kamara’s many gifts and to keep their aging QB’s arm fresh. With an improved defense and Brees entering his age-39 season, the formula doesn’t figure to change.

But don’t fret, fantasy footballers. Philip Rivers and Matt Stafford both passed for fewer than 30 TDs (while also failing to score via the ground) and still managed top-eight fantasy performances.

Bring the blitz on Twitter. Follow Brad (@YahooNoise) and Liz (@LizLoza_FF).