Just as the New Orleans Saints seemed to right the ship with wins over the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, disaster struck. Drew Brees suffered rib and lung injuries that have landed him on injured reserve, leaving Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston to pick up the pieces. Not only will the change from Brees affect the weapons littered throughout the offense, but option head coach Sean Payton settles on will dictate whether the unit will focus primarily on the run or pass during Brees’ absence.
At present, it seems Hill will receive the first shot to start, which would limit the upside for the Saints’ myriad fantasy-relevant pass catchers.
Fantasy Football analysis: Saints TE Jared Cook
Jared Cook, the Saints’ primary tight end, had gone quiet even before Brees left the field. Over the last two weeks, Cook has turned just two of his five targets into receptions, producing just 30 yards in total. Adding a lost fumble against the Buccaneers, Cook seemed headed for a smaller role regardless of what else happened in New Orleans.
With Hill presumably leading the offense for the foreseeable future, Cook’s decline seems more likely to accelerate. Hill famously has attempted just 18 career passes in the NFL, a far cry from his 98 carries and 28 receptions. While Hill will pass more as the regular starter, the Saints can’t rely on him to throw at the same volume as Brees did for so many years. Necessarily, that will limit Cook’s upside in fantasy to that of a touchdown-dependent replacement for a player on bye or dealing with injury.
Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation