Shark Bites

Saints TE Ben Watson "still looks like he's in the prime of his career," according to insider Joel Erickson. He's "made eye-popping, contested catches a normal occurrence in his return to the Saints," Erickson writes. Watson is 37 now but racked up 61 catches in Baltimore last season. And he has 3 years of experience in the Saints offense, including a 74-825-6 line back in 2015. There hasn't been much buzz on Watson, but he appears locked in as New Orleans' lead TE. And he's remained dirt cheap, with an ADP sitting in the 16th round.

WR Cameron Meredith made his Saints debut in the team's 2nd preseason game on Friday night -- his 1st live action since tearing his ACL and MCL last August. He said afterward that it "felt great" to be back out there but also admitted that he still has work to do. "I still need to kind of get my wheels together, get up to the speed of the game a little bit," Meredith said. No surprise there. We'll be keeping a close eye on Meredith's usage in New Orleans' 3rd preseason game, when QB Drew Brees is expected to play. (He hasn't played in the first 2 exhibitions.) Meredith still has a good shot to emerge as the #2 WR and is an upside pick in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts.

Saints WR Cameron Meredith has missed several straight days of practice -- along with the 1st preseason game -- while dealing with an undisclosed injury. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the issue is not Meredith's surgically repaired left knee, but that's all we know. Meredith on Tuesday tweeted, "So many obstacles on my path, trying to test my perseverance." We'll see if any further info on his situation comes out and/or when Meredith returns to the field. Until then, it might be a good idea to back off him in best-ball drafts a bit. Rookie Tre'Quan Smith, on the other hand, gains late-round intrigue as long as Meredith remains sidelined.

Update: Meredith returned to practice Tuesday, according to Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate.

The Saints signed WR Michael Floyd on Tuesday. This would have been big fantasy news a few years ago. Now it's barely worth mentioning. Floyd has totaled just 47 catches across the past 2 seasons, including 10 with the Vikings last year. He'll battle for the #5 WR spot in New Orleans behind Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn and Tre'Quan Smith. Even if he wins that spot, Floyd would need a couple of injuries ahead of him on the depth chart to have a shot at fantasy relevance.

Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith has been a standout early in training camp and is already getting 1st-team reps. The 3rd-round rookie was 1 of our favorite sleepers in this year's WR class, with an impressive combination of contested-catch and downfield ability. (He flashed some of that ability on this deep reception in Saturday's practice.) Smith is battling with Cameron Meredith and Ted Ginn for snaps and targets behind #1 WR Michael Thomas. Meredith is still the favorite, but Smith is plenty capable of carving out a significant role this season. He's an intriguing late-round flier in best-ball drafts.

Saints WR Cameron Meredith (knee) avoided the PUP list and is ready for the start of training camp. He's nearly 12 months removed from tearing his ACL and MCL and has had a smooth rehab. Meredith is the favorite for #2 WR duties in New Orleans -- a role that would give him a good shot at WR3 fantasy production. He's a value at his 12th-round ADP.

The Saints have signed RB Shane Vereen. The 29-year-old racked up 44 catches for the Giants last year, although he averaged just 5.8 yards per catch. He also has 47-, 52- and 59-catch campaigns on his resume. New Orleans has now added Vereen and Terrance West to a backfield that also includes Trey Edmunds, Jonathan Williams and Boston Scott behind Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. There's early-season opportunity with Ingram suspended for the first 4 games, but Vereen seemingly has an overlapping skill set with Kamara. He's not worth a roster spot in fantasy leagues right now.

Saints WR Cameron Meredith is happy with his recovery from last August's torn ACL and MCL and expects to be ready for the start of training camp. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s almost a 10. I haven’t had a setback along the recovery process,” Meredith said. “I’m gaining strength day by day, month by month. I’m excited to see how soon I can get back… But the main objective for me is to do as much as I can with the trainers to get ready for the season. My goal is to try and get back to training camp. As long as there aren’t any setbacks or anything like that, it shouldn’t be a problem.” Meredith can use all the reps he can get in HC Sean Payton's offense and with QB Drew Brees. If he's healthy and comfortable in the offense, he has a good shot to emerge as the Saints' #2 WR -- a role that would make him a major fantasy factor. Meredith is well worth a shot at his 12th-round ADP.

The Saints on Wednesday agreed to a deal with RB Terrance West, according to NFL.com’s Herbie Teope. The move followed a tryout that reportedly included multiple veteran backs — plus DeMarco Murray declining an invitation. West has averaged a mere 3.9 yards per carry career and appeared in just 5 games last season for a Ravens offense seeking backfield answers. New Orleans clearly felt the need to tap a veteran to help fill the early Mark Ingram void. We’ll see if West can work his way into fantasy relevance. If nothing else, he’s in the right place for it.

Saints HC Sean Payton told NOLA.com this week that WR Cameron Meredith is ahead of schedule in his return from last year's left ACL tear. That's often said of recovering players, but Meredith showed off his progress by taking part in OTA workouts. The Saints gave him $9.5 million on a 2-year contract as a restricted free agent and could turn Meredith into their #2 WR in targets as soon as this year -- if he can avoid setbacks.

Saints RB Mark Ingram has been suspended 4 games for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Entering a contract year, Ingram now won’t debut until Week 5 vs. Washington. Alvin Kamara’s clearly the winner here, but we’ll see how much more of a rushing role the Saints hand him. As a rookie, he tallied 81 catches but never topped 12 carries in a game. Either way, he’ll bring a ton of upside in all formats. Meanwhile, Jonathan Williams projects as the new #2, although he’ll surely face competition. New Orleans spent a 6th rounder on Louisiana Tech RB Boston Scott.

The Saints added Central Florida WR Tre'Quan Smith in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. This guy was one of our favorite sleepers in the WR class and lands in an intriguing spot. Smith led Central Florida in catches, yards and TDs in all 3 seasons there and tested as a 65th percentile athlete at the Combine. On film, he's one of the best contested-catch WRs in the class with his 6'2, 210-pound frame, 37.5-inch vertical and 87th percentile arm length. Per Pro Football Focus, Smith led all WRs in this draft class with 9 TDs on passes 20+ yards downfield last year. He'll battle Cameron Meredith and Ted Ginn for targets behind Michael Thomas this year and won't be more than a late-round flier in redraft leagues. But we like this landing spot long-term with offensive mastermind Sean Payton.

The Saints gave up next year's 1st-round pick to move up from 27th to 14th in Round 1 of the NFL Draft to take DE Marcus Davenport. The UT-San Antonio pass rusher tallied 15 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss over the past 2 season. He then posted the 3rd-best speed score in this edge class. Davenport will present lots of IDP upside in sack- and pressure-friendly fantasy football leagues.

The Bears have declined to match the Saints' offer to WR Cameron Meredith. So he'll head to New Orleans on a 2-year, $9.6 million deal. Meredith is rehabbing from a late-August torn ACL and MCL but flashed back in 2016 with a 66-888-4 line. He's still just 25 and owns a 74th percentile SPARQ score. He should at least settle in as the Saints' #3 WR and could even push Ted Ginn for 2nd on the team in targets behind Michael Thomas.

WR Cameron Meredith has signed a 2-year, $10 million offer sheet with the Saints, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Bears tendered the restricted free agent at the original-round level. That means New Orleans will owe Chicago no compensation, but the Bears get a chance to match the offer. Meredith missed all of last season after tearing his left ACL and MCL, so we'll need to watch his progress this offseason and see exactly when he's ready for full practice. If Meredith's good to go in plenty of time, he'll be in an interesting situation. New Orleans has been a passing-game party for most of Drew Brees' time there, but only Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara topped 70 targets among Saints last year. Ted Ginn drew 70 to rank 3rd on the team and 2nd among Saints WRs. A healthy Meredith could challenge Ginn's status as the #2 WR and approach Willie Snead's 2016 role. We would bet on a bit more passing from the Saints this year, though also not a total swing back from the 2017 rushing emphasis. Meredith makes for an upside late-round pick in best-ball drafts right now. His arrival adds a bit of risk to Ginn but certainly doesn't kill his value.

The Saints have signed TE Ben Watson to a 1-year deal. The 37-year-old made an impressive return last season from a torn Achilles, hauling in 61 of 79 targets (77.2% catch rate). He averaged just 8.6 yards per catch, though, and doesn't offer much playmaking ability at this point. It's certainly worth noting that Watson has plenty of experience with HC Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees, spending 2013 to 2015 in New Orleans. His arrival could spell the end of TE Coby Fleener's time with the Saints. That'd leave the team with Watson and Josh Hill. We'll see if they add to the position in the draft, but whoever the Saints deploy as their lead pass-catching TE will have some fantasy appeal.

The Saints and QB Drew Brees have agreed to a 2-year, $50 million contract with $27 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network. This deal took a bit longer than expected to materialize, but Brees was never leaving New Orleans. While his 10th-place fantasy finish this past season was his worst as a Saint, Brees remained as effective as ever. He set a career high with a 72.0% completion rate, averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and tossed 23 TDs vs. just 8 INTs. His fantasy ceiling has been capped in New Orleans' RB-centric offense, but Brees will remain 1 of the safest QB1 bets in 2018 fantasy drafts.

Panthers S Kurt Coleman has put in 2 full practices this week after sitting out Week 17 with an ankle injury. That should mean he's ready for full duty in Sunday's playoff game against the Saints. We've added him to the playoff IDP rankings -- though Coleman remains a weak option, given that we don't expect Carolina to make it past Round 1.

Panthers S Kurt Coleman (ankle) is inactive for today’s game against the Falcons

Panthers S Kurt Coleman (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Falcons. He put in limited practices Thursday and Friday after sitting out Wednesday. The 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff makes it tougher to wait on Coleman, so you might need to go a different direction in your IDP lineup. We'll confirm his status around 3 p.m. ET when the late-game inactives come out.

 
 
 

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