By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The New Orleans Saints sign WR Cameron Meredith to a 2-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: Meredith missed all of the 2017 season after tearing the ACL in his knee before the season began. This was a big deal because he had emerged as the number one option for the Chicago Bears during the 2016 season in which former Bears WR Alshon Jeffery battled injuries. Meredith was going to be the go-to guy for rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky and be thrust into the conversation of solid WR2 options for fantasy owners.
And then he wasn’t. Before he could prove he could be that guy for Trubisky and the Bears, the Bears went out and brought in Allen Robinson — himself coming back from a torn ACL — and Taylor Gabriel via free agency, leaving the restricted free agent Meredith without a home to return. Luckily for Meredith, the Saints had some interest in teaming him with rising star Michael Thomas to potentially form a dynamic duo at wide receiver. The Saints signed Meredith to a reasonable offer sheet and the Bears decided against matching it. The move was puzzling as it wasn’t for a ton of money — total value is $9.6 million — nor a ton of years. Were the Bears not confident in Meredith’s recovery?
Part of the appeal for Meredith is that new Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson was with the Bears when Meredith was in Chicago. Meredith joins a group of receiving targets with some serious size. Thomas is 6’3″, same as Meredith. New and former tight end Ben Watson is also 6’3″. Thomas has two straight years with over 1,100 receiving yards. The second leading receiver on the team was actually RB Alvin Kamara with over 800. Will Meredith approach 1,000 yards? No. What last year proved to me is that we’re past the years of Drew Brees throwing for 5,000 yards in a season. The Saints want to control the clock and play stout defense. Brees is still Brees and is one of the most accurate passers in league history so he will pick his spots and maximize what the defense gives him. Adding a weapon like Meredith will only make his job easier.
It’s very easy to say that Meredith’s presence will negatively affect Thomas’ production in 2018. Do not count me among that crowd. Thomas is their go-to option. The Saints offense will continue to run through RBs Mark Ingram and Kamara. Out of Brees’ 386 completions, 296 of them were to Thomas, Kamara, Ginn, and Ingram. Maybe Thomas doesn’t have 104 receptions like last year, but he will still exceed 90 and 1,000 yards. I would say a healthy Meredith cuts more into Ginn’s 53 receptions — he just turned 33 — and potentially Ingram’s 58, not to mention Brandon Coleman’s and the rest of the lesser known targets on the team. I can see a healthy Meredith with more than 50 catches for 650 yards and 3 scores because that’s what this offense offers. That’s nothing for fantasy owners to get excited about, but just know the big dogs on this team — Thomas, Ingram, and Kamara — will continue to be fed and the rest of the squad are fighting for table scraps.