PFN Roundtable: How can new Saints WRs Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave impact Jameis Winston’s performance?

This week's PFN Roundtable discusses how Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave impact Jameis Winston, the Saints' future draft plans, and more.

After missing out on the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes, the New Orleans Saints decided to switch to an aggressive Plan B this offseason. The team re-signed QB Jameis Winston, despite his recent ACL surgery, and then devised a plan to add a stellar rookie wideout in the first round of the NFL draft.

The Saints traded three premium picks, including their 2023 first-round selection, to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 16th and 19th overall picks on Day 1. With those two first-round picks in place, the Saints remained aggressive and traded up to the 11th overall selection to nab Ohio State wideout Chris Olave. The front office didn’t stop there, as they decided to sign former Pro Bowl wideout and LSU alum Jarvis Landry in May. Now, with Olave and Landry on the roster, what kind of impact does our PFN Roundtable cast believe it will have on Winston’s performance, fantasy football, betting, and the 2023 NFL Draft?

Why Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave will provide Michael Thomas insurance for Jameis Winston and the Saints’ offense

Landry, who was a cap casualty of the Cleveland Browns’ trade for Watson in March, remained patient on the open market throughout the offseason. A five-time Pro Bowl player, Landry decided to head home and play with Winston, who has a former first overall pick pedigree. Landry said last week that Winston played into his decision to sign with New Orleans.

“He’s a leader, man,” Landry told The Athletic. “He’s … one of the reasons why I came here, just the conversations that we had, the intent that he’s putting behind the things that he’s saying.”

On the surface, Landry feels like Michael Thomas insurance. Thomas, a two-time first-team All-Pro, missed all of last season following ankle surgery. Furthermore, he’s only played in seven games since the start of the 2020 season.

Thomas is a stellar slot receiver who can gain yards after the catch on crossing routes. Landry can fill that void if Thomas struggles to regain his footing. Landry can also be used as a primary slot receiver, with Thomas and Olave handling outside reps.

Olave, who has blazing speed and excellent technique, could be a dynamic Z receiver for Winston. He complements Landry and Thomas with his speed and ability to stretch the field. The 6-foot, 188-pound rookie receiver is coming off a strong senior season at Ohio State, as he produced 65 catches for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Saints clearly think he can provide similar results in their system in due time.

With Olave, Landry, and Thomas leading the charge and Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith providing further support, Winston should be set up to thrive if he can fully recover from knee surgery. Winston got off to an excellent start to the 2021 season before suffering his ACL injury, and with an influx of top-tier weapons, the likelihood of him picking up where he left off is relatively high. – Mike Kaye, PFN Lead NFL Reporter

How Landry and Olave impact Winston in fantasy football

New Orleans was a team we heavily projected to be in the running for a wide receiver. It did not take long for this to come to fruition, but they were not done after adding Olave. Instead, they doubled down on giving Winston options as they quickly signed Landry back to the Big Easy.

Not only was it a necessary move, but one that worked out perfectly. The Saints desperately needed to give Winston more weapons with an intermediate focus. This allows the Saints to work more midfield concepts rather than focusing on island plays to the boundary with Marquez Callaway or Tre’Quan Smith. For fantasy managers, this means more consistent fantasy production, especially in volume-rewarding formats like full-PPR.

As of right now, Olave is arguably the healthiest receiver amongst the top trio, something Winston and the Saints hope changes very soon. He is one of — if not the — top route runners in this class or, as Jameis put it, “smooth as the other side of the pillow.” While he lacks size, Olave brings legitimate home-run speed but also has the ability to alter his pacing to stay in the soft spot of the zone. That should help keep windows open a bit longer for Winston.

Landry, despite the stat line, was a high-volume player, posting a 24.9% target share with the Browns. He is the silky smooth route runner the Saints and Winston desperately missed last season. Constantly undervalued for his impact on the field, Landry has yet to finish a season outside the WR3 range in fantasy (minimum 12 games).

Winston heads into 2022 with a great opportunity ahead of him, assuming his own recovery goes well. He could be in for a significant bounceback as he continues to rebrand his style of play. Last season, Winston led all QBs in fantasy points per dropback (0.64) but was also No. 6 in passer rating (102.8) and had the lowest turnover-worthy play rate of his career (3%).

While I do not believe he is in the running for the QB1, Winston is a dark horse to finish as a QB1 in fantasy. Between Kamara, Thomas, Landry, and Olave, this offense quietly is one of the better ones in the NFL. – Tommy Garrett, PFN Senior Fantasy Analyst

How Landry and Olave impact Saints’ betting odds

The addition of a reliable veteran receiver like Landry isn’t going to move the needle on any lines. Perhaps Landry could’ve been a player that impacted betting odds more in his prime, but not at 29 years old. Olave is one of the most pro-ready wide receivers in this rookie class, but he’s not the type of prospect that will make sportsbooks adjust lines.

The Saints desperately needed help at the position after surviving 2021 with a medley of WR3/4s. If they can get Thomas back healthy, this team suddenly has a respectable set of receivers.

The real impact comes in how bettors can take advantage of the Saints’ improvements at wide receiver. Given the lack of movement in betting lines, if bettors buy into the Saints’ passing offense being much better, there will be an opportunity early in the season to bet on New Orleans before sportsbooks adjust.

The Saints open the season at Atlanta, vs. Tampa Bay, and at Carolina. Dare I say all three are winnable games? – Jason Katz, PFN Fantasy and Betting Analyst

How the Saints’ current wideout group could impact their 2023 NFL Draft plans and Winston

The Saints’ wide receiver room has experienced a drastic facelift through the 2022 offseason. The team drafted Ohio State star Chris Olave early in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Then, they recently signed veteran Jarvis Landry after he was cut by the Browns for cap savings. Also factoring into the team’s upgrade at WR is the expected return of Michael Thomas, who missed the entire 2021 season while recovering from an ankle injury.

It’ll take more than a simple return from Thomas to provide assurance that he’s still the same receiver. But the last time he was fully healthy in 2019, Thomas went for 149 catches, 1,725 yards, and nine touchdowns. It’s safe to assume that Thomas, who’s expected to be ready by training camp, will retain a notable role in the Saints’ offense. Meanwhile, Landry offers experience, reliability, and alignment versatility. And Olave can be a dynamic vertical threat with three-level separation ability.

In the immediate timeline, the Saints’ offseason additions quell the concern at WR. And ideally, the investment in a first-round receiver this past cycle minimizes the need for heavy investment in future years. But Landry and fourth receiver Marquez Callaway are both set to be free agents in 2023, so the Saints may once again need more rotational talent and depth when April of 2023 rolls around.

In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Saints have just five selections at the moment, including one each in the second, third, fourth, and fifth rounds. In that middle-round range, some quality WR targets might include Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, Arizona’s Jacob Cowing, or Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks. The depth of the 2023 class might also allow New Orleans to seek out additional talent in the UDFA pool. – Ian Cummings, PFN NFL Draft Analyst

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