The New Orleans Saints are fresh off an impressive victory over the previously-undefeated Los Angeles Rams, moving them to 7-1 on the year. On the surface, it seems this team could be primed for a Super Bowl run, and with the outlook so bright, they opted to make a big move. To start the second half of the 2018 NFL season, the Saints have added yet another weapon in the form of wide receiver Dez Bryant.
As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport revealed, the Saints are set to sign the former Dallas Cowboys wideout to a one-year deal.
Bryant will join an explosive Saints offense which has tallied the seventh-most passing yards per game this season with 289.9 and second-most most points at 34.9. While the fantasy football impact on Bryant is certainly worth considering, it also impacts a few other members of the New Orleans offense.
Specifically, the addition of Bryant will have a big impact on rookie third-round pick Tre’Quan Smith. The talented 22-year-old took over the No. 2 receiver job after Ted Ginn Jr. was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Let’s take a look at the fantasy outlook for Smith moving forward with the addition of Bryant.
Tre’Quan Smith’s Fantasy Value After Dez Bryant Signing
The immediate (and understandable) reaction for fantasy football players who have Smith on their roster is some level of frustration. While Smith has just 12 catches for 214 yards and three touchdowns this season, he’s shown flashes of legitimate upside. In the past four games alone, the former Central Florida receiver has seen 16 targets and caught all three of his touchdowns.
While Bryant is bound to take over the No. 2 job from Smith, it’ll be interesting to see how it impacts him from a fantasy perspective. Attempting to take the pressure off fellow receiver Michael Thomas is no easy task for anyone, let alone a rookie. There’s an argument to be made that Bryant’s signing may allow Smith to utilize his big-play ability more.
While I wouldn’t go out of my way to add (or trade for) Smith in fantasy leagues, he’s worth holding for a few weeks if you have a roster spot. Most players who have the Saints receiver on their roster likely either have deep benches or are in 14-team leagues or above, as he’s been somewhat hit-or-miss.
Snap Counts May Not Take Nosedive for Smith
One area of concern is that the Saints have played their top-two wideouts the bulk of the offensive snaps, leaving less work for the other options. With that said, Football Outsiders shows Thomas and Smith played 92 and 73 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 7. Behind them, Cameron Meredith and Austin Carr saw 25 and 21 percent.
A similar situation played out in Week 8 (Thomas 96 percent, Smith 77), but what stood out was that Carr jumped to 36 percent while Meredith dropped to 17. The Saints obviously like Smith, and while he won’t see the same amount of work, there’s a chance he could take snaps from the other two receivers and wind up playing around 50-55 percent of the time.
We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out, but the rookie’s big-play potential is worth considering. Having Thomas and Bryant on the field will hurt Smith’s targets, but may allow him to get loose over the top with a bit more frequently. I’d recommend holding Smith in fantasy leagues for at least a few weeks.