Michael Thomas, Jameis Winston Fantasy Outlook After Jarvis Landry's Saints Contract

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 13, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) looks for running room to the outside after being flushed from the pocket during first half action during the football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at Caesar's Superdome on October 31, 2021 in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is heading back to his home state after the New Orleans Saints signed the free agent to a contract, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Landry, who was born and raised in Louisiana and went to LSU, now joins a Saints team with a potentially explosive offense. Quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Michael Thomas appear ready to return and join a crew that includes running back Alvin Kamara, wide receiver Chris Olave and one of the NFL's best offensive lines.

From a fantasy perspective, let's take a look at Thomas and Winston in particular post-Landry signing.

The FantasyPros points-per-reception rankings have Thomas 47th overall and 22nd among wide receivers. Winston is 153rd overall and 23rd among quarterbacks.

In other words, Thomas is seen as a borderline WR2/flex option, while Winston is a backup quarterback at best and a midseason waiver-wire pickup at worst.

Thomas is a massive question mark heading into 2022. He had ankle surgery and then suffered a setback with his injury and missed the entire 2021 season.

That same ankle injury held him to just seven games during the 2020 season.

When healthy, Thomas is one of the best wide receivers in football and a major fantasy asset. He caught an NFL record 149 passes for 1,725 yards in 2019 en route to Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Prior to that season, the ex-Ohio State star posted a 17-game average of 116 catches and 1,370 yards.

Thomas appears to be on track to return in 2022, per Saints head coach Dennis Allen on the Rich Eisen Show May 6.

"That would be our hope," Allen said when asked about Thomas' Week 1 status (h/t Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk).

"We feel good about what Mike’s done in the rehab process. There’s still a few hurdles that we’ve got to climb, with any of our guys that had any injuries they’re trying to get back from."

If Thomas is good to go, don't expect another massive fantasy season. As Mike Clay of ESPN noted, the Saints have a lot of players to make happy with Landry in the mix.

Mike Clay @MikeClayNFL

If everyone is healthy, the Saints have a lot of mouths to feed:<br>Alvin Kamara: ~20% target%<br>Michael Thomas ~25%<br>Chris Olave ~20%<br>Jarvis Landry ~20%<br>Trautman&amp;TEs: ~18%<br>+Ingram/FB/other WRs: ~10%<br><br>Math doesn't work.

At the same time, having Landry on the field can help take some focus on Thomas, who could have more room to operate in the secondary.

Ultimately, Thomas is an incredible talent as evidenced by his first four NFL seasons. If training camp news points toward all systems go for Week 1, then he's a WR2 in PPR leagues at worst.

Like Thomas, Winston has the chance to be the fantasy comeback player of the year.

He suffered a torn ACL and MCL damage during an Oct. 31, 2021 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and missed the remainder of the season. However, Winston appears well on track to be QB1 for Week 1, per Allen (h/t Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk):

"There’s a lot of days between now and Week 1, but we certainly like where he’s at right now. We like the progress that he’s making. Man, I really loved a lot of the things that he did last year for us—14 touchdowns, three interceptions. There was just some really good stuff that you see. and my vision and my hope is that he continues to progress on the same level as he gets another year in the system."

Winston's last full season as a QB1 came with the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he threw for 33 touchdowns, 30 interceptions and 5,109 passing yards. He was the No. 5 quarterback in all of fantasy football that year.

That Bucs team had a dynamic pass-catching duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The 2022 Saints will have Thomas (presumably), potential star rookie Chris Olave out of Ohio State and now Landry. That's a fantastic trio to work with, and it's clear the Saints' pass-catching corps will be a massive upgrade this year.

Winston didn't post gaudy stats in his seven games in New Orleans last year (167.1 passing yards per game), but he showed far more patience and less risk-taking (14:3 TD:INT ratio.)

If you combine the best of 2019 Winston and 2021 Winston, then we could be seeing a potential fantasy superstar.

Having Landry, a possession receiver with a 17-game average of 95 receptions over his eight-year NFL career, can only help Winston. He should serve as a security blanket for Winston to help matriculate the ball down the field and keep a potentially explosive offense moving.

Consider Winston a solid QB2 entering this season. There's so much quarterback talent in the league these days that Winston can't be considered a QB1, but Winston could very well break out and enter that sphere by the end of the season if everyone stays healthy.