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Fantasy Football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks - New Orleans Saints 2022 Outlook

Chris Olave - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Welcome to our fantasy football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks, a series on RotoBaller where our writers look at three key players on each NFL team. Today, we're talking about the New Orleans Saints.

With a new head coach for the first time in years and with a (presumably) healthy Jameis Winston under center, what can the Saints do this season?

Below, you'll find a fantasy football breakout candidate, a fantasy football bust candidate, and a safe fantasy football pick for the Saints based on current ADP for fantasy football drafts in 2022.

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Fantasy Football Breakout: Chris Olave

There are two paths for how Olave's season can go. There's the "Michael Thomas is healthy" way, which would feature Olave as the No. 2/3 receiver on this offense.

And there's the "Michael Thomas isn't healthy" way, which would feature Olave as the No. 1/2 receiver on this offense. No matter which path we take, Olave is someone who'll turn some heads this season with his fantasy production.

Olave spent his final three seasons at Ohio State being productive. Last season, he caught a career-high 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Buckeyes while competing for touches with Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson for snaps. That he finished third of that group in yards shouldn't be seen as a knock on Olave, as those other two players are really good.

Olave is a dynamic receiver who'll line up on the outside most of the time, with Jarvis Landry in the slot. There's potentially a lot of targets that will go to Thomas and Landry, but if the Saints tailor their offense to Jameis Winston's arm, there should still be plenty of targets to go around for Olave.

Of course, the real reason to draft him is because of the Thomas uncertainty. You'll read later on why I keep drafting Thomas at his ADP and think that he's a great fantasy pick, but the last two years for MT have been strange—strange enough that I'm baking in more injury concern than I usually would when thinking about this Saints team.

And if the scenario we get to is that we have Olave serving as the main outside weapon for a quarterback with an arm as big as Winston's, then look out.

In fact, we might not even need Thomas to be out for Olave to get some big deep balls thrown his way. Thomas loves to run slants and while I always assumed that a big part of that was Drew Brees being older and having limited arm strength, there's no guarantee that was it.

Maybe Thomas and Landry will thrive in the short and intermediate game and Olave will use his ability to create separation to be the team's primary deep threat.

So, keep a close eye on Chris Olave.

 

Fantasy Football Bust: Mark Ingram II

The potential for an Alvin Kamara suspension remains, which would boost Mark Ingram's fantasy value, but as is, I don't see a ton of non-suspension paths for Ingram when it comes to fantasy value.

And even if Kamara is suspended, I think the ceiling is low on Ingram. Ingram is a 32-year-old running back with 1,755 career carries, plus 287 career receptions. That's a lot of wear on him.

Last season, he split time between Houston and New Orleans. In his seven games with the Saints, he averaged 37.1 rushing yards per game and found the end zone once.

I'm just not sure that Ingram still has it in him to be the thunder to Kamara's lightning, or to be THE guy if Kamara misses time.

Add in that New Orleans has a solid group of veterans behind him who can step in and give you production in a pinch like Dwayne Washington and Malcolm Brown plus an Ingram-esque UDFA in Abram Smith and I just think you're going to end up disappointed if you draft Ingram at his ADP.

 

Fantasy Football Lock: Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas hasn't played a full season since 2019, but the last time he did play a full year, he led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards, catching 149 passes for 1,725 yards.

While the fact that Thomas played just seven games in 2020 and then missed all of 2021 definitely introduces a lot of uncertainty into the equation, I think at his current ADP, Thomas is a lock—assuming, of course, that he's healthy.

Thomas is currently being taken on average as the WR33 across the major fantasy platforms. That currently puts him behind Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Hopkins (who has a six-game suspension) and Gabriel Davis. Simply put, a healthy Thomas outscores those guys.

And while this might not be the lockiest lock because of health concerns, it is a lock when it comes to me seeing Thomas on the board in the sixth or seventh round when I need a receiver and then drafting him. That's the kind of risk I'll gladly take every time.

Thomas is just such a reliable target when he's on the field. This is a guy who caught 92 passes as a rookie. Who has exactly nine touchdowns in three of his four full seasons. Who averaged 107.8 receiving yards per game the last time he played a full season.

Michael Thomas has a proven track record of success. The injury concerns cloud that, but can we really fade a guy whose two most recent full seasons saw him finish with a catch rate over 80%? The risk here is clear. My advice: don't ignore it, but if Thomas is on the board still at his ADP, take the plunge.



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