Shark Bites

The Saints have ruled WR Michael Thomas out for Monday night’s game against the Raiders. That’s been the expected move all week, though there was a bit of optimism Friday. We’ll see whether that means Thomas can make it back from his high-ankle sprain for Week 3. His absence leaves targets for Emmanuel Sanders and crew, and elevates Tre’Quan Smith to a starting role in a positive matchup. We can’t help but downgrade Drew Brees with no Thomas, though, especially after an unspectacular opener

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Saints WR Michael Thomas "felt fantastic" at Thursday's practice and that there's "a little glimmer of hope" he might play Monday night. Schefter adds that Thomas remains unlikely to face the Raiders this week. At the least, this news indicates Thomas could return sooner than the initial projection of "several weeks." Of course, we've also seen limited performance from players trying to work through high-ankle sprains. We'll see exactly when we get Thomas back and at what level he returns.

As expected, Saints WR Michael Thomas missed practice Thursday because of his high-ankle sprain. Thomas is expected to miss multiple games. You'll need to make other lineup plans for at least this week.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Saints WR Michael Thomas' high-ankle sprain is "worse than originally believed and he's now expected to miss several weeks." Thomas' absence would push targets toward WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Jared Cook, WR Tre'Quan Smith and RB Alvin Kamara -- and perhaps motivate the Saints to go more run-heavy. As recently as 2017 and 2018, this offense ranked among the most run-heavy in the league. The next 3 weeks bring matchups with the Raiders, Packers and Lions -- all of whom ranked 16th or worse in Football Outsiders run-defense DVOA last season. Then come the Chargers (25th) and a Week 6 bye. So you should probably prepare the possibility of going without Thomas until Week 7. Thomas' situation also hurts the fantasy outlook for QB Drew Brees, who threw for just 160 yards in the opening win over Tampa.

Saints WR Michael Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain late in Sunday's win over the Bucs, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. "It’s something he believes he can play through," Pelissero adds. "With an extra day before next Monday’s game vs. Raiders, nobody ruling Thomas out." It sounds like this is a relatively minor high-ankle sprain, but it's still worrisome. Just last year, we saw this injury derail Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley's seasons. We'll obviously keep a close eye on Thomas' status this coming week. His absence would be a big blow to QB Drew Brees, while opening up a ton of opportunity for Kamara, TE Jared Cook and WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Tre'Quan Smith.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara has signed a 5-year contract extension worth $75 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Kamara gets a $15 million signing bonus and over $34 million in guarantees. He's now tied with Ezekiel Elliott for the 2nd highest-paid RB in terms of average annual salary -- behind only Christian McCaffrey. Contract and back concerns surrounded Kamara in late August and early September. But he once again looks like a top 5 fantasy back.

The Saints have ruled DE Marcus Davenport out for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers with an elbow injury. According to NOLA.com's Luke Johnson, Davenport had been practicing recently with a brace on his left elbow. He sat out each of this week's workouts, however. We'll see about his status heading into Week 2.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the epidural shot Saints RB Alvin Kamara got recently was "just for SI joint inflammation, and the shot calmed it down. Not considered a big deal at all." The SI joint connects the base of the spine to the hip bones, and inflammation in that area can lead to pain from the lower back down into the legs. Kamara's return to practice Wednesday supports the notion that this isn't a big deal. And the team and player reportedly remain in talks to extend his contract. We're still drafting Kamara in Round 1.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara missed the last few days of practice after receiving an epidural shot in his back, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports. It was previously believed that Kamara was skipping out over demands for a new contract. Kamara does still want that new deal, and Pelissero hears that the 2 sides aren't far apart. But the Saints are willing to trade Kamara if they can't come to an agreement. "Kamara still wants to be a Saint long-term and the team's priority to this point has been to make it happen," Pelissero adds. In the meantime, Kamara is expected to return to practice on Wednesday. We'll obviously continue to keep a close eye on this sticky situation. Between the contract and back issues, Kamara comes with more risk in fantasy drafts right now.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara has had an "unexcused absence" from camp the past 3 days and "it is believed to be contract related," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Sounds like a holdout to us. Kamara is entering the final year of his rookie contract and scheduled to make just over $2 million this season. It's unclear if he's willing to sit out games. We'll keep a close eye on the situation. Kamara obviously comes with elevated risk in fantasy drafts in the meantime.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara told reporters on Monday that he "tore his knee" in last year's Week 6 game against the Jaguars. He added that he avoided surgery but did "a lot of rehab this offseason." We knew Kamara hurt his knee in that game (in addition to suffering a high-ankle sprain), but this makes it sound like the injury was more serious than initially thought. Regardless, the takeaway is that Kamara was banged up last season and is a prime bounce-back candidate if he stays healthy in 2020.

The Saints have signed RB Ty Montgomery, according to insider Nick Underhill. The 27-year-old was a non-factor with the Jets last season but compiled 107 catches over his first 4 NFL seasons (3.5 with the Packers and the rest with the Ravens). We're interested to see what HC Sean Payton does with Montgomery's unique skill set, but he's unlikely to be a fantasy asset without an injury to Alvin Kamara.

The Saints have signed QB Taysom Hill to a 2-year, $21 million deal with $16 million guaranteed. We know HC Sean Payton loves Hill, but this is still a surprising amount of money -- especially with the Saints expected to sign QB Jameis Winston. It's still unclear whether Payton views Hill as a potential heir apparent to Drew Brees, but he's at least set to continue playing a significant gadget role in 2020.

QB Jameis Winston is set to sign a 1-year deal with the Saints, according to Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Winston reportedly turned down more money from another team, choosing instead to learn from QB Drew Brees and HC Sean Payton. Smart move. Winston is obviously off the 2020 fantasy radar, barring a Brees injury. But the 26-year-old remains a dynasty hold. Brees is 41 and taking his career season-to-season at this point.

Update: This move has finally become official.

The Saints selected Dayton TE Adam Trautman in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Trautman improved his production all 4 years on campus, topping out with a 70-916-14 line in 2019. That obviously came against relatively weak competition. But Trautman posted big market shares, tied for 3rd in yards per route run among 18 of this year’s top WR prospects and led that group in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades. He’s also a capable blocker and tested as a 67th percentile athlete at the Combine. We weren’t overly impressed by his tape, but Trautman really checks all the analytical boxes. He’ll sit behind Jared Cook this season but has some longer-term upside with HC Sean Payton in New Orleans.

10:04pm EDT 4/24/20

The Saints traded up to select Wisconsin LB Zack Baun in Round 3 of the NFL Draft. Baun finished his Badgers career playing almost exclusively on the edge. But at 230 pounds, he'd likely have trouble holding up there every play in the NFL. New Orleans' 4-3 base gives him more of an off-ball LB role, but we'd bet on plenty of pass-rushing. Baun's cross-category potential and impressive overall athleticism makes him worth a bet in dynasty rookie drafts. The risk is that he plays a role similar to what Anthony Barr has with the Vikings -- which has included plenty of real-life value but limited fantasy production.

ESPN's Josina Anderson reports that the Saints have agreed to a 2-year deal with WR Emmanuel Sanders. The 33-year-old veteran enters an offense that needs options. Michael Thomas drew a dominating 31.8% of Saints targets last season, nearly doubling #2 Alvin Kamara. Jared Cook ranked 3rd, another 32 targets behind Kamara. There's room for Sanders to rank 2nd among Saints in targets in 2020 and top 100. He's a solid target for best-ball fantasy football drafts now before he climbs into the single-digit rounds.

The Saints have agreed to a 4-year, $32 million deal with S Malcolm Jenkins. The 32-year-old began his career in New Orleans as a 1st-round CB back in 2009 before moving to safety. He spent the past 6 years with the Eagles after leaving in free agency and helped turn Philly into a perennially tough matchup for TEs. Back with the Saints, Jenkins might be stepping in for S Vonn Bell, who hit free agency this week. New Orleans is certainly paying starter money to Jenkins, who figures to land in DB2 territory in our 2020 IDP rankings.

The Saints and QB Drew Brees have agreed to a 2-year, $50 million deal, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 41-year-old Brees is a year-to-year proposition at this point, but we know he's at least back for 2020. He remained as efficient as ever last season, completing 74.3% of his passes, averaging 7.9 yards per attempt and tossing 27 TDs vs. just 4 INTs. Brees missed 5 games and most of another with that thumb injury but scored as fantasy's #2 QB in the other 10 games.

The Saints have applied a 1st-round tender to QB Taysom Hill. It essentially locks him in with the Saints for 2020 and will pay him $4.66 million. Hill became a valuable gadget player for New Orleans last year, compiling a 19-234-6 receiving line, 156 yards and a score on the ground and 55 passing yards. It's unclear if HC Sean Payton views Hill as a future starting QB -- but that's a question for 2021 with Drew Brees set to return for another season.

 
 
 

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