We've been hearing about the potential Tre'Quan Smith breakout from just about everyone in the Saints organization -- from Drew Brees to Sean Payton -- over the last three offseasons since his rookie year. Three years later, the former third-round pick has never been able to carve out a consistently relevant Fantasy role. He didn't top 60 yards or five receptions in a single game in 2020 despite Michael Thomas' injury and Emmanuel Sanders' slow assimilation into the offense. He's unlikely to emerge in a Fantasy-relevant role in 2021 and you should aim higher with your late-round fliers.
Smith should step into a bigger role early on during the upcoming season with Michael Thomas (ankle) expected to miss at least the first four games, Mike Triplett of ESPN reports. Despite an inconsistent beginning to his professional career, Smith reportedly is secure in his role as the No. 2 receiver behind Thomas, and the fact that Thomas is set to miss some time means that Smith will serve as the Saints' de facto No. 1 wideout in the short term. Even though Alvin Kamara will remain the focal point of the passing game overall, it's not a stretch to think that Smith could begin the season by at least doubling the average number of targets he saw per game (3.6) last season.
Smith seems poised to start at wide receiver in 2021, Katherine Terrell of the Athletic reports. After releasing incumbent No. 2 wideout Emmanuel Sanders this offseason, New Orleans surprised some people by ignoring wide receivers during the early rounds of last weekend's NFL Draft. By instead waiting until the seventh round to merely add Kawaan Baker out of South Alabama, the Saints appear content with Smith as the second option behind Michael Thomas while a slew of undrafted holdovers (Juwan Johnson, Deonte Harris, Lil'Jordan Humphrey) duke it out for tertiary roles. However, potential fantasy investors will need to keep tabs on who will be throwing Smith passes this fall, as the speedster figures to have a much different outlook with the strong-armed Jameis Winston (who tossed Smith a 56-yard bomb in Week 17 of last season) under center than he would with dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill.
Smith (ankle) caught all three of his targets for 85 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in the Saints' 30-20 divisional-round loss to the Buccaneers. Smith had missed the Saints' previous four contests with a bad ankle, and while his team took the loss, the downfield threat produced his best statistical performance of the season upon his return. Michael Thomas (zero catches) was keyed in on by the Buccaneers' defense, allowing Smith to take advantage of single coverage when he was called upon. The majority of his damage was done on a trick play in which backup quarterback Jameis Winston took the top off of the secondary and connected with the speedy wideout on a 50-yard bomb. Drew Brees simply doesn't have the arm strength at his advanced age to generate big plays like that for Smith, so it will actually hurt the receiver's fantasy value if the Hall of Famer decides to continue playing next year. However, If New Orleans has a new quarterback under center in 2021, and said signal caller can stretch the field the way we saw Winston do Sunday, then Smith could begin to gain traction as a fantasy asset, as he consistently sits atop the team's yards-per-reception rankings, finishing with a mark of 13.2 this regular season even with a declining Brees starting for most of the season.
The Saints activated Smith (ankle) from injured reserve Saturday. Smith's return to the 53-man roster clears the way for him to play in Sunday's divisional-round contest against the Buccaneers. In his first game action since Week 15, look for Smith to work alongside Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in three-receiver sets. Over 14 regular-season outings, Smith caught 34 of his 50 targets for 448 yards and four touchdowns.
The Saints designated Smith (ankle) for return from injured reserve Wednesday, Luke Johnson of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Smith has been on IR since Week 15, but he demonstrated enough progress in his recovering from the ankle injury to rejoin the Saints for practice. The Saints will assess Smith in their workouts Wednesday through Friday before determining whether he's fit to rejoin the team for Sunday's divisional-round matchup against Tampa Bay. If Smith is activated from IR ahead of the weekend, he would likely join Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in three-wideout sets.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||Green Bay Packers||6||19.56|
|3||09/26||@New England Patriots||10||20.63|
|4||10/03||New York Giants||9||20.38|
|5||10/10||@Washington Football Team||5||19.35|
|8||10/31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19||23.50|
|14||12/12||@New York Jets||18||23.13|
|15||12/19||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19||23.50|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||40||27||370||5||21||13.70||67|