Usually, we discuss league-wide and global trends in On Target, but the Saints offense has been so unusually fun of late, I thought it was worth giving New Orleans a solo audit. There are some juicy pickups waiting for you in The Big Easy.
A month into the season, it didn't look like the Saints offense was going anywhere. The team was 2-2, sure, but the offense was sputtering. New Orleans had just 62 points through four weeks, averaging a mere 285 yards per game. Even Alvin Kamara's first game back was a dud — a 26-9 loss to Tampa Bay, and 197 crummy yards of offense.
Things have been a lot more fun in the second quarter of the year.
The record, mind you, hasn't improved. The Saints are still .500, one of three teams trying to sort out that dysfunctional NFC South. But the offense has woken up. New Orleans sprung for 34 points at New England and 38 last week at Indianapolis. In the last three weeks, the Saints have posted 430, 407 and 511 yards of offense.
Kamara is a big part of the story, sure. His pass-game usage makes him PPR royalty. Chris Olave has been a reasonable WR2, but not the WR1 we hoped he'd grow into during his second season. Derek Carr, well, he's Derek Carr, a mid-range quarterback, as always. The .500 record seems to fit him.
But there are two unique players who are driving the Saints' offense of late. They don't always get the most snaps, but they make things count when they do. Give a look at Rashid Shaheed and Taysom Hill.
Two key Saints to consider adding
Shaheed's game logs almost don't make sense. He exploded for a three-catch, 153-yard game against the Colts — on just 18 snaps. Shaheed was wide open on his two connections with Carr, and he did a nifty job turning what should have been a Hill interception into a long offensive completion. Check out the tape, see what you make of it.
Full disclosure, Shaheed has also had plenty of washout games. That's life with these long-route target guys. But Shaheed was the WR11 on opening day, he was the WR6 back in Week 6 and he was the WR4 this recent week. (Olave, it should be noted, has yet to crack the top 11 in any week.)
Shaheed is averaging 20.8 yards per catch, best in the league. His 12.6 yards per target is also excellent. I'd like to see the Saints find more for Shaheed to do. And given the recent success, you have to assume this role will expand.
Shaheed was undrafted coming out of Weber State, but that's misleading. He tore an ACL in his last college year and wasn't able to work out during the spring of his draft season. The Saints still gave him a decent guaranteed deal for an undrafted player and were able to sneak him onto the practice squad when roster gridlock hit early last season. And when Shaheed finally got a chance to play, he flashed — he had 44- and 53-yard scores on his first two NFL touches.
This is the perfect shape of a fantasy WR3/4, a high-upside player who can tilt the week for you when things click. Hopefully, the front of your roster has high-floor, high-volume receivers; that's why we like to use early capital on that position. But in the second part of your draft, or in free agency, sure, swing for the fences.
Shaheed somehow is still unrostered in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. This week it will get corrected, of course. Those 3-153-1 blowup games get noticed.
Hill is a fantasy argument in a box, as some want to get in endless debates on what his fantasy position should be (in Yahoo, he's a tight end). Hey, I don't make the rules. I just play the cards I'm dealt. Hill does a little bit of everything for the Saints — runner, thrower, receiver. He's a slash.
And lately, he's been a smash. Hill caught seven passes in Week 6, and he's piled up 145 total yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks. On the tight end grid, those have led to TE9, TE5 and TE1 finishes.
When a play or a player succeeds, keep calling his number. Hill's rushing attempts not only go for 5.3 yards a pop this year, but they hold an absurd 71.1% success rate — those are runs that keep an offense ahead of the down or refresh the down. Hill is only averaging 8.1 yards per catch, but at least he's been sure-handed on the short routes, securing 80% of his targets.
Hill is still waiting for your free-agent call. He's rostered in 36% of Yahoo leagues.
Carr, it should be noted, still has a capped upside. Even with the Saints going bonkers of late, he's settled between QB9-15 in his end-of-week ranks. That's playable in deeper formats, but the ceiling doesn't exist — he'll cede too many touchdown opportunities to Hill. At least you can consider Carr for the next two weeks, facing Chicago and Minnesota.
Michael Thomas hasn't been invited to the party, either. A number of veteran receivers have been strong fantasy rebound stories this year, but not Thomas. His weekly WR finishes are depressing to examine: just one game inside the top 30, and it was a pedestrian WR21 showing.
I mentioned the upcoming two games, but the entire New Orleans schedule is a daisy. The Lions host New Orleans in Week 13, and that's the only time the Saints face a top-10 defense (per DVOA rankings) for the remainder of the season. Unless something oddly tropical kicks up in Tampa Bay for Week 17, New Orleans faces no weather issues. The Saints are mostly living that indoor life, on the fast track.
It's obviously wheels-up time for Kamara. Olave is too good not to bust out eventually. But I suspect the easy button the Saints have found with Hill will keep getting pressed. And Shaheed's splash plays are too good to ignore.
You know when the waiver deadlines are. You know your FAB situation better than I do. Roll up the sleeves, get to work.