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Dynasty Impact: What Does Sean Payton’s Departure Mean for Saints Offense?

Rebuild or not, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are still dynasty league keepers.

The New Orleans Saints are about $74 million over the 2022 salary cap. When going by each player’s cap hit for the upcoming season, the situation feels dire: CB Marson Lattimore ($27.5 million), WR Michael Thomas ($24.7m), RT Ryan Ramczyk ($23m), DE Cameron Jordan ($22.9m) and the list goes on. For the uninitiated, the Saints can do a lot to kick the salary cap question down the road. New Orleans will likely restructure these contracts by converting base salaries to bonuses. This would prorate the bonuses across the remainder of the contract. How the Saints get there doesn’t matter as much for our dynasty purposes, but what remains when the dust settles this offseason is where we’re focused.

With head coach Sean Payton moving on from the team, it’s easy to feel like the rug has been pulled out from the franchise. But the salary cap drama, Drew Brees’ retirement last year and the state of the roster have been a long time coming. Where do we go from here?

michael thomas alvin kamara

I feel running backs are the more stable commodity in fantasy, especially those – like Alvin Kamara – who can contribute significantly as both a runner and receiver. There are good and bad offensive lines, high- and low-scoring offenses, but a good PPR running back is more immune to the whims of his situation than a wide receiver. To make matters worse for Thomas, he hasn’t played a game in over a year, going all the way back to mid-December 2020.

We can nitpick the value of Jameis Winston vs. Taysom Hill vs. Trevor Siemian, but I want to resist that kind of dynasty micromanagement. All we know is what we don’t know and that’s a lot. Thomas will be 29 at the start of the 2022 season and we don’t know if he’ll be retained or traded. My early gut tells me the Saints will not be blowing it all up. NFL teams are tragically myopic. Just imagine the front office right now. “Hey guys, we finished 9-8 with a bad QB situation, no WR1 and our best running back missed a quarter of the season! We’re still in this!”

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Thomas’ value can’t get much lower. The buying window is likely closed. Nothing wrong with making a price check inquiry via a trade offer. I’d go as high as a 2022 1.11 to get him, but the problem is the asking price is likely higher. If I’m a win-now team, you’re getting a near-elite receiver and—glass half-full—maybe the Saints make a home run draft pick for a rookie QB.

Kamara—and I don’t believe I have to say this—is a strong hold and a buy, even in rebuilds. The 2021 season was his floor scoring potential. He didn’t score many touchdowns because the offense was more miss than hit, but the yardage, touches and usage aren’t in doubt. In Week 18, he had 30 carries for 146 yards! Twice in his last five games, Kamara had at least 31 touches. I’d be willing to pay a mid-first and mid-second for Kamara.

There’s no excuse for his value to be on the decline, which it is, because managers are getting in their heads about the quarterback, head coach, salary cap and the general vibe of the team. And the reality is that most dynasty managers place too much emphasis on youth or wanting the bragging rights in having “the next big thing” rather than hold firm with guys who are proven and only approaching a decline.

Look, if you’re hoarding draft picks and positioning yourself for a reload or rebuild, neither player makes sense for you unless you get them on a steep discount. But if you’re a middle-of-the-pack team with an extra first-round pick sitting in your pocket, make a move for one of these guys. They’re not put out to pasture just yet.

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