The Browns released Jarvis Landry after acquiring Amari Cooper, but prior to the start of a free agency. The free agent flurry came and went, and Landry remained unsigned. He was biding his time, looking for the right spot. Landry was heavily linked to both the Saints and Ravens. On May 13, Landry finally made his decision to sign with the Saints. Let’s go over the fantasy football impact of Landry joining the Saints on Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, and Chris Olave.
Fantasy impact of Jarvis Landry joining the Saints
Landry is obviously not the player he was early in his career. Fantasy managers should have no expectations of him putting up WR1 or even WR2 numbers ever again. He’s 29 years old and coming off the worst season of his career.
Last year, Landry was inefficient and battled a lingering knee injury stemming from a Week 2 MCL sprain. His 60% catch rate was a career-low, and his 47.5 receiving yards per game matched his career-low from his rookie season.
With all that said, I still think there’s a useful player here. Despite his struggles from him, Landry did command a near-25% target share last season. His low catch rate of him was more of a product of Baker Mayfield’s inaccurate passes.
Jameis Winston was a low-volume passer last season, but he also lacked weapons. While it’s a stretch to call Landry a “weapon” at this point in his career, he is a reliable set of hands underneath. I expect him to be fantasy-relevant as a floor-based WR3/4.
Fantasy impact of Landry on Michael Thomas
First and foremost, Michael Thomas is the Saints WR1. Well, when he’s on the field, at least. Thomas hasn’t played since the middle of the 2020 season. More concerning are recent reports that he’s still not fully recovered from his ankle injury. It’s been over 500 days. This is a non-zero chance Thomas isn’t healthy to start the 2022 season.
Assuming Thomas is ready to go, he will be the primary X receiver. Expect him to command close to a 30% target share and be the most valuable fantasy asset on this team. Thomas is a proven commodity and will get his from him no matter who the team signs. He is unaffected by Landry’s presence (but Landry would benefit if Thomas were unable to play).
Fantasy impact of Landry on Chris Olave
On the other hand, rookie Chris Olave will be impacted by Landry. In fact, immediately after news dropped of Landry’s signing, I placed Landry ahead of Olave in my 2022 redraft rankings.
I’m not the biggest fan of Olave as a prospect. I view him as a solid but unspectacular wide receiver. He will be in the NFL for a long time, and he will be a useful player. I just don’t see him ever being a star.
Olave is a complete zero after the catch. However, he does run excellent routes and can get open. But he’s a rookie. Landry has been doing this for nearly a decade. I’m expecting Landry to be the WR2 ahead of Olave.
Now, this doesn’t mean Olave can’t improve and become a productive WR2 going forward. There’s also a chance Landry’s body is breaking down as he pushes 30 years old. An injury to Landry would thrust Olave into a more significant role.
However, as it stands now, Winston’s top three wide receivers are all players he’s never played with. Yes, even Thomas. None of these three WRs played a single snap for the Saints last season.
Landry averaged 11.1 PPR fantasy points per game last season. I would put his floor from him at around 10 ppg and his ceiling from him around 13. If Landry and Thomas stay healthy, I believe Olave will struggle to maintain fantasy relevance.
The Saints were one of just three teams to run the ball more than 50% of the time last season. We know Winston can air it out and support several fantasy-relevant pass catchers, but the Saints also know from Winston’s time with the Bucs that letting him throw the ball 600 times isn’t a recipe for winning football games. Olave should be able to crest the 500-yard threshold for rookie wide receivers, but I would be surprised if he averaged more than 8 ppg this season.
Fantasy impact of Landry on the rest of the Saints’ wide receivers
Heading into last season, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harty were under-the-radar dart throws. With Thomas out, they were the two best receivers on the team.
Now, they’re buried. Neither was able to maintain fantasy value last season (Callaway 8.9 ppg, Harty 8.7). The new low-volume Winston cannot maintain more than two fantasy-relevant pass catchers. Callaway and Harty are now fourth and fifth on the depth chart. While they both had their moments in 2021, there’s no plausible path to either of them mattering this season.
Final thoughts on the fantasy values of Saints’ players
Of course, all of our thoughts and opinions can and will change over the coming months. Landry only just signed, so consider this very preliminary.
Currently, I’m slotting in Landry as a low WR4 in my rankings. Olave is a high WR5. I will presume Thomas is healthy for now and pencil him as a high WR3. And Winston is well off the 1QB redraft fantasy radar.