Saints Fantasy: Can Tre'Quan Smith become a Viable FLEX Option?

For Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith, a rollercoaster start to his NFL career is now met with a unique opportunity. The UCF Product has a chance to win the New Orleans No. 2 wideout job and become a true fantasy football FLEX option.
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Tre'Quan Smith's NFL career began with a historic moment in Week 5 of the 2018 NFL Regular Season. His two touchdown and 111-yard outing was highlighted by a 62-yard touchdown strike from Drew Brees. On that play, Brees became the NFL's All-Time leader in career passing yards. Smith concluded his rookie season showing promise as a deep threat, however, injuries and inconsistencies left Smith with a lot to prove headed into his fourth NFL season.

From a fantasy standpoint, Smith has been a headache. The 6-foot-2 wideout has the size and speed to flourish in Sean Payton's offense. And while he has shown glimpses, his production has not found a consistent rhythm throughout the entirety of an NFL season. In his three seasons with the Saints, Smith has yet to surpass 75 fantasy points (Standard Scoring) in a season, leaving doubt as to if he can ever develop into a quality fantasy WR2 or FLEX option.

Following the release of Emmanuel Sanders, the Saints are looking for a wide receiver to step up into a more pronounced role in 2021. Though the consensus among the New Orleans locals is that 2020 UDFA Marquez Callaway should be slotted at WR2, I have my eyes set on Smith to not only win the starting job but potentially land a spot on your fantasy squad.

In 2020, despite missing two games because of injury, Smith set career highs across the board in targets (50), receptions (34), and receiving yards (448). However, Smith did not produce career-high fantasy points and concluded the year with 69.1 points (Standard Scoring). 

The small spike in production from Smith comes from playing nearly 72% of the Saints' offense snaps in 2021. Though the rise in his time on the field came in large part due to Michael Thomas' nagging ankle injury, Smith again showed flashes of being a quality fantasy option scoring over 9 points in PPR leagues six times in 2020. This included a huge 21-point outing against Detroit in Week 4 where he hauled in two touchdowns.

Smith will enter 2021 competing for the Saints' number two wide receiver spot. However, like most of the Saints receiving corps, it will be his first year without Drew Brees...which may actually benefit Smith. 

Jameis Winston is the Saints projected starting quarterback this fall. The former first-overall pick tossed his first touchdown for the Black and Gold in the 2020 NFC Divisional Round against Tampa Bay. On the receiving end? Tre'Quan Smith. On the trick play, Smith bolted down the middle of the field after the ball was given to Winston on a reverse. Winston hit Smith in stride, uncontested, to give the Saints the lead.

Tre'Quan Smith's 2021 Fantasy Outlook

Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith

Smith's deep play threat has made him an intriguing fantasy option since he entered the league in 2018. Unfortunately for him, a series of injuries and the declining arm of Drew Brees forced Smith to see fewer opportunities downfield. This year, that should change with strong-armed quarterback Jameis Winston at the helm.

Winston and Smith will both be hungry to prove they belong in New Orleans as both enter a contract year. Jameis Winston was a Top-5 fantasy QB just a year ago and Smith is looking to prove he belongs in the conversation as a viable fantasy option after three years of fantasy disappointment. The pair has an opportunity for a special connection and an ability to bring big-play fireworks the Saints passing attack has not consistently seen since 2018.

I see Smith as a reliable FLEX option throughout the 2021 NFL Season and a guy who could surprise a lot of people in PPR leagues. With a new quarterback and a contract to play for, we should see the best out of Smith as the Saints starting number two wide receiver.

Expect Tre'Quan Smith to nearly mirror Emmanuel Sanders' yard production from last season and stick to his career rate of 5 touchdowns per season. With those numbers, Smith would average between 10 & 11 fantasy points per week in PPR Leagues. 

Follow Saints News Network’s Writer, Brendan Boylan, on Twitter & Instagram at @btboylan.

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