The Saints finished the regular season 12-4 and had one of the top five defenses in the league. The team allowed the fifth-lowest average points, 21.1, and the rush defense was particularly effective. They allowed the fourth-lowest amount of yards, 1,502, their 3.9 yards a rush was the fourth lowest, and only allowed 11 rushing scores – the second-lowest in the league.
The defense is strong but their IDP options are limited. Their top tackler is 32 and not as versatile as today’s new breed of linebackers. The starting strong safety, also second on the team in tackles, is 33 years old and on the tail end of his career. The team lost their team leader in sacks, Trey Hendrickson, in free agency and the savior, Marcus Davenport, is not living up to his draft capital yet.
Where does the team replace the 13.5 sacks from Hendrickson and can the aging defense continue to be effective?
Davis has been a solid and steady linebacker who will always give IDP teams a solid start. He’s been over 90 tackles for the past eight seasons and is capable of chipping in a few sacks on top of that. It’s not sexy, but Davis gets it done.
|5 yr||5 yr||NYJ||80||67||1||0||0||11||0||5||8||11.5||483||327||156||31||34||36|
|3 yr||3 yr||NOR||48||48||1||1||1||21||2||1||0||13.0||340||234||106||32||32||35|
|1 yr||1 yr||CLE||16||15||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||2.0||99||59||40||7||5||6|
In the Nerds rankings, he is the 45th overall defensive player and the 26th ranked linebacker. He is 32 years old and he is the only lock to be a three-down linebacker, although pass coverage is not a strength. Not a total liability but the Saints will be looking for other options from linebackers as they add to their team.
Davis is a player you should be able to acquire fairly inexpensively and will give you LB2 numbers every week with consistent stat lines. The future will be murkier but he should have a few good seasons in the tank.
Projections: 115 total tackles, 5 sacks
Werner landed in a great situation, a chance to possibly see the field right away and prove he can belong in the NFL. There are things to love about his game but also a lot of questions. He may have been better in a situation where he didn’t have to start right away.
|*2017||Ohio State||Big Ten||FR||5||6||3||9||0.5||0.0||0||0||0|
|*2018||Ohio State||Big Ten||SO||12||38||20||58||7.5||3.0||9||0||2|
|*2019||Ohio State||Big Ten||JR||14||39||25||64||5.5||0.0||3||2||0|
|*2020||Ohio State||Big Ten||SR||8||28||26||54||2.5||1.0||1||0||2|
At Ohio State, he was a good linebacker surrounded by elite talent. Werner didn’t compile tackles, force turnovers, or make highlight plays. His best trait is his versatility and ability to do many things. Werner is an intelligent defensive player, keeping plays in front of him and anticipating what offenses are going to do. He rarely is caught out of position and is a sound tackler. In pass coverage, he can hang with athletic tight ends and backs but doesn’t quite have the range to go sideline-to-sideline.
The Saints have a weak linebacker corps and Werner will get a chance to prove himself earlier rather than later. I think he has a good shot to be a solid NFL linebacker but I am not sure it translates to IDP success. It could – if he becomes more involved in run defense and asserts himself. But at this time, I am grabbing Werner and holding without much expectation.
Projection: 50 total tackles, 2 sacks
THE REST OF THE LINEBACKERS
Zack Baun is best as an outside pass rusher but may be asked to do more. We will see how that goes, I don’t have any qualms rostering him but the former Wisconsin Badger will likely not be an IDP asset.
The rest is not good, and it could end up being the Achilles of the Saints’ defense. They recently brought in Kwon Alexander, but nothing has been said about that. He may not be recovered enough to be anywhere like his former self. A 75% Kwon is still far better than any other linebacker on the roster.
Jordan is 32 years old and entering his 11th season in the Crescent City – he’s become as much a part of the city as beignets and jazz music. Every year, Jordan is a lock to rake in sacks and harass opposing offensive linemen.
Jordan has averaged 51 tackles and 9.5 sacks over his first ten seasons and is the most valuable member of the team, as far as IDP. He is our 47th ranked overall, and 12th ranked defensive lineman.
Continuing the trend I am permeating in this article, once again, he isn’t the sexiest player for your IDP team but a player who will get it done week after week. Plug him in your lineups, even though Jordan is in his 30s, he shows no signs of letting up. I think the Saints need to get this guy some help, draw attention away from him. Rather, they seem content to ride their aging studs off the cliff.
Projection: 55 tackles, 8.5 sacks
Onyemata is serving a six-game suspension to start the season and you may be able to acquire him inexpensively – crazy cheap. He is a better start in leagues that require DT starts, as he will give you a solid floor with tackles and chip in a few sacks.
I don’t play in many leagues which don’t separate DT and DE, so Onyemata is a guy I get crazy late in drafts to bolster my team really late. A good depth piece who can give me starts in the latter half of the season. Plus, at 28, he’s one of the youngsters on the defense!
Projection: 47 total tackles, 3.5 sacks
THE REST OF THE DEFENSIVE LINE
The Saints notoriously traded up in the 2018 draft to take the small school stud, Marcus Davenport, with the 14th overall pick. It surprised many, he displayed pass rush prowess in college, with the University of Texas-San Antonio, but Davenport was a raw project. He does have 12 sacks in the NFL, albeit in 37 games over three seasons. Can he finally put it all together? Our IDP team has him ranked 107th overall and the 32nd ranked defensive lineman. I hope he finally can, and at the price he can be acquired typically, it’s worth a shot.
Payton Turner was taken in the first round of the 20201 Draft and has the potential to be a strong pass-rushing end. He has drawn comps to Davenport, kind of scary, but they do have similar play styles. Turner plays with loads of effort and has a few moves in his arsenal, which could help him succeed. He’s also very raw and I thought was a bit of a reach as well. Hopefully, he pans out, and Turner is worth a late flier in your IDP rookie drafts.
Jenkins started his career in New Orleans, branched off to play in Philadelphia for six seasons, then returned to the Saints in 2020. He’s another surly vet, ripe age of 33, but the man keeps producing like he’s a dozen years younger.
|6 yr||6 yr||NOR||87||79||9||267||2||96||47||7||0||6||30||1||7.0||450||345||105||16||18||39|
|6 yr||6 yr||PHI||96||96||11||289||4||99||58||12||1||6||45||0||5.5||515||406||109||32||15||44|
Jenkins manned the strong safety role last season, whereas most of his career he has been a free safety. His range isn’t what it was but he’s a true football player. One of those players you love watching, he plays with passion and his football intelligence helps mask what he has lost athletically.
We have him ranked 166th overall, the 38th defensive back, and I will be happy paying that price for the production he can give your IDP team. Jenkins has never been a player you’d want as your DB1 or S1, but another solid and consistent producer. A team full of this can be very effective in IDP fantasy.
Projection: 88 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs
THE REST OF THE DEFENSIVE BACKS
Marshon Lattimore is a good target if you need cornerbacks, he is a CB2 year after year with a safe floor due to consistent tackles. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a safety but plays all over and fills in at corner and can get up in run support too. He’s a decent depth safety on your team and should see lots of snaps in 2021. Marcus Williams is another depth player, the starting free safety, and he will rake in some tackles with pass deflections, if your league values those.
The Saints are nearing the point at which they need a complete defense overall. But for 2021, they should be a solid defense, although I doubt they replicate the effectiveness of 2020. Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen will get as much as he can out of this unit.
Davis, Jordan, and Jenkins will all produce but none will be top-tier starters for IDP fantasy football. Davenport and Turner are potential DL studs in the making, and worth keeping on your bench. Past that, it gets thin quick and the team could implode with a few injuries.
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