Fantasy football reaction: Derek Carr joins the New Orleans Saints

Fantasy football reaction: Derek Carr joins the New Orleans Saints

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Fantasy football reaction: Derek Carr joins the New Orleans Saints


After being granted his release from the Las Vegas Raiders following last season’s benching late in the year, Derek Carr became a free agent and wasn’t subjected to the same rules of the process as anyone whose contract is set to expire as of the start of the new league year next week.

As a result, he was available to sign anywhere he pleased, and Carr did just that by inking a four-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Monday, March 6. He’ll immediate step into the starting role and provide an upgrade over last season’s mixture of Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill.

Derek Carr's impact on the Saints

Carr is reunited with Dennis Allen, the head coach who drafted him into the league, so familiarity helped facilitate this deal. That said, Allen was fired after four games into Carr’s rookie season, so we’re not talking about an extensive history between the two, but it’s helpful nonetheless.

The veteran turns 32 years old later this month, so he’s still in the late stages of his prime. The Saints boast a quality cast of targets, featuring Michael Thomas and Chris Olave at wide receiver, Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, and a promising tight end in Juwan Johnson. We even saw flashes from wideout Rashid Shaheed as a gamebreaking vertical threat in 2022.

Arguably more important to success, the Saints have a quality front line, when healthy — a caveat that looms large after several key injuries have derailed this group in the past couple seasons. All of the starters along the line are under contract, but we can expect to see some restructuring and perhaps even a cap casualty if the front office cannot renegotiate enough cap space to crawl out of a $21 million hole (prior to Carr’s signing).

Getting back to the skill personnel, Thomas, who turns 29 in June, is the wild card here. He has all of the talent in the world but has been completely unreliable for three seasons running as injuries have cost him four times as many games as he has played in that stretch. If he can somehow shake off the injury bug, Carr will have one of the best one-two punches at the position in the league.

Olave established himself as one of the top rookie receivers in 2022, securing 72 of 119 targets for 1,042 yards and four scores in 15 appearances. His ceiling is as high as anyone’s entering Year 2, and even if Thomas cannot get right, Carr is left with one of the most formidable No. 2 targets in the game. At this point, given Thomas’ injury history and age, it’s not unfair to even put him as the WR2 behind Olave if the soon-to-be 23-year-old can continue his upward trajectory.

Kamara’s off-field legal situation is expected to be finalized this summer, and any form of an adjudication against him likely results in some length of a suspension. Too much is unknown at this time, but gamers and the Saints must brace to be without him for several weeks. We’ve even seen the NFL levy suspensions for allegations alone, so even an acquittal could result in some kind of league-mandated hiatus for the explosive running back. Given the glaring lack of options behind Kamara on the depth chart, as well as factoring his age, count on the Saints to add at least one back to the stable during the draft or free agency.

Carr has plenty of arm to throw deep for the aforementioned Shaheed to show off his wheels to keep defenses honest. When it comes to working with the tight end position, we’ve seen ample success between this quarterback and Darren Waller to suggest it’s not a stretch for Johnson to take a step forward.

Across the board, Carr’s arrival is a win for the fantasy value of all of these players. Olave stands to benefit the most, and Johnson is a name to watch this summer for sleeper potential.

What is Carr's fantasy value?

Carr has never been much of a fantasy dynamo on his own, but he has done fine job of being reliable as a backup and also has offered some help in a pinch as a matchup play. He means more to his real-life team than the fake versions, but this situation could help see him take a step forward.

The division is in flux with rebuilding teams, so an opportunity to capitalize is present, and the Saints have enough weaponry even at current time to make Carr relevant in deeper leagues.

A game manager with the occasional big stat line, the Fresno State alum’s best fantasy season came in 2022 when he averaged 21.6 points. It happened during a year in which quarterbacks played so well that he finished only QB14 among passers who played at least 12 games. For context, the performance would have placed him QB10 in 2022 and QB13 in ’21 using the same criteria.

That’s about his ceiling. Carr should be a fringe QB1, at best, but is more safely added as a priority backup because of his steady hand, firm grasp on the job, and surrounding talent.


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