Fantasy football: Will the New Orleans Saints offer utility at tight end?

Fantasy football: Will the New Orleans Saints offer utility at tight end?

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Fantasy football: Will the New Orleans Saints offer utility at tight end?


One year after making the transition from longtime franchise quarterback Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints will enter 2022 with head coach Dennis Allen replacing Sean Payton after the latter spent 15 years on the job (not including his one-year suspension in 2012). The team will bring back Jameis Winston (knee) as its starting quarterback, though, after the former No. 1 overall pick had to outlast Taysom Hill for the top job a year ago. Veteran Andy Dalton will be Winston’s backup.

New Orleans will have a new look on the outside with wide receiver Michael Thomas set to return after missing all of 2021 with an ankle injury. He’ll be joined by Ohio State’s Chris Olave, the team’s No. 1 draft pick, and veteran Jarvis Landry, who comes over from the Cleveland Browns. All that extra talent outside could open things up inside, which brings us to the tight ends. Other than Hill (foot) theoretically making the full-time switch to the position upon his return from Lisfranc injury, the Saints decided to run it back and hope Adam Trautman and/or Juwan Johnson elevate their game.

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Adam Trautman

Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

A third-round pick in 2020, Trautman’s sophomore season didn’t get off to a great start as he finished with fewer than 20 yards receiving in four of his first six games without a touchdown. He seemed to finally hit his stride around Week 9, catching 14 passes (on 21 targets) for 137 yards and a score in a three-game run that came to a halt due to a sprained MCL — it is worth noting that Trautman’s best work came with now-Chicago Bears quarterback Trevor Siemian at the helm. Trautman missed significant time leading up to the season, which could have played a major role in their seemingly weak connection with Winston.

Trautman was regarded as one of the most promising tight ends in the 2020 draft, and his short-area quickness and ability to win in contested ball situations topped the list of attributes. Making the transition from Dayton to the NFL was always going to be a tough one, and in Year 3 we’ll see if the light comes on fully.

Taysom Hill

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After four years of pretending Hill had the skills necessary to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, the Saints finally pulled the plug on that experiment and will list the Swiss Army knife as a tight end for the upcoming campaign. With a full complement of QBs on the roster, the Saints will be free to deploy Hill in multiple roles. He could continue to see snaps as an option quarterback in certain down and distances as well as in the red zone, even if word is he’ll focus on playing tight end.

While Hill has never posted huge numbers in any single area, his red-zone work has impressed. To that end, he caught six touchdown passes in 2019, and then ran for eight scores in 2020. We’ll see if the new staff is as eager to feature Hill as Payton was, but his history of being a dangerous weapon inside the 20 shouldn’t be forgotten.

Juwan Johnson

Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For a brief moment last season, it seemed like Johnson might be someone to watch. He caught a pair of TD passes in Week 1 and was targeted three times in three of the first four games, adding another score in Week 4. That was pretty much it, though, and his lack of involvement during Trautman’s absence was disappointing. Still, Johnson has natural receiving talent, and as such he cannot be utterly dismissed.

Fantasy football outlook

Of the group, Trautman is the only one to really pay attention to initially, and even his upside is TBD given how little chemistry he displayed with Winston last year. Additionally, just how many passes can he possibly see with a deep receiving corps plus running back Alvin Kamara‘s elite aerial chops.

Obviously, the departure of Payton changes the math a bit, but it’s not enough to invest a pick on Trautman unless you’re rostering him purely on potential. Ultimately, his draft worthiness is exclusive to best-ball formats. Hill and Johnson should be bypassed entirely.


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