Fantasy Reaction: Sean Payton Traded to the Denver Broncos
It’s not every day a head coach gets traded in the NFL especially one as respected among fantasy managers as Sean Payton. The Denver Broncos sent the 29th overall pick of the 2023 draft and a 2024 2nd-round pick to the Saints for head coach Sean Payton and a 2024 3rd-round pick. The compensation is not quite as rich as other recent head coaches such as Jon Gruden (two 1st & two 2nds) or Bill Belichick (1st, 4th, & 7th) but the Broncos got their high-profile coach after a lost year with Nathaniel Hackett.
The Broncos were a train wreck last year ranking dead last in points per game (16.9), 30th in red zone plays, and embarrassingly hitting their team implied totals just twice in their first 12 games. In fact, Broncos games hit the under in 11 of their first 12 games before the offense started correcting itself in the final month of the season… once Hackett was gone.
So what does Payton’s arrival mean for fantasy?
Payton’s time in New Orleans was full of fantasy goodness. His offenses led by Drew Brees were machines but it was the RB fantasy production that just kept on trucking along. From Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Tim Hightower, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray, and Alvin Kamara, if you suited up in a Saints jersey you likely had major relevance.
Keep in mind in Payton was suspended for the season in 2012 and Drew Brees retired in 2021.
Of the major fantasy pieces, let’s quickly discuss their 2022 season and their outlook moving forward with Payton.
Russell Wilson– Despite having the highest percentage of tickets and money bet for NFL MVP at BetMGM, it was a disaster. He had a 6-week stretch where he completed three total red-zone passes and infamously had more passing TDs than bathrooms in his house until Week 17. That didn’t keep the dude from chucking it deep as 16.1% of his attempts were 20+ yards downfield, the highest rate in the NFL (min. 8 games). He did complete the 2nd most 20+ yard passes and had four top-5 finishes, twice as many as Justin Herbert. But curiously, apart from those four performances, he had zero other finishes between QB6-QB13. Wilson’s dynasty and 2023 redraft prospects now have new life breathed into them. He becomes a trendy late-round QB pick as his Seattle offenses were bets on high efficiency than mere passing volume.
Coming soon: pic.twitter.com/WXYooLSDBF
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 31, 2023
Javonte Williams– Once the pride of dynasty managers, Williams had a lost season after going down in Week 4. His recovery timeline will be one to monitor over the summer as Matthew Betz discussed: “these multi-ligament knee injuries, especially those that involve the LCL and PL corner, take much longer to recover than a “clean” ACL injury.” Still only 22 years old, he remains a top-6 dynasty RB in our minds but with added risk with his recovery. His rookie year was super encouraging with over 1,200+ yards from scrimmage and more than 50 targets. He was a force with the ball in his hands with the 6th most forced missed tackles among RBs. The team will likely add a Day 2 or 3 pick in the draft with only Chase Edmonds and rookie Tyler Badie under contract for 2023 along with Williams. But this could not be better news knowing Payton’s long history of elite RB production in New Orleans.
Jerry Jeudy– In the midst of a tumultuous year in Denver, Jeudy was the one bright spot for the Broncos. The third-year WR took a major step forward ranking 12th in yards per route run and 9th in yards per target at the WR position. He also showcased an ability for ceiling games down the stretch as the WR2 overall over the final five weeks of the season including a 3-TD game against the Chiefs. The trade window is likely closing in dynasty after this acquisition of Payton. He’s three seasons in but still only 23 years old so you have a ton of football left.
Courtland Sutton– It was a lost season for Sutton as he went from intriguing 5th-round pick to utter bust with Russell Wilson. He’s never been a separator but his large frame can still be a useful red-zone weapon for this team. Think of Sutton more like Gabriel Davis where you might get big splash plays and multi-TD games but then vanish for multiple games at a time. Sure, he can be the “better in best ball type” but this is about buying into an offense that has to be better in 2022. Right? His ADP will likely drop to being a 6th/7th round pick.
Greg Dulcich– The rookie TE flashed at times with six top-12 performances. He might gain some steam this summer as a 2nd year break out TE as “YAC-ability” is one of the key factors in predicting future success at the position. He ranked 3rd in aDOT and 3rd in deep targets among all TEs while running the 6th most slot snaps. If he continues to line up out wide, he could be a sneaky late-round TE in 2023 teamed up with a rejuvenated Russell Wilson.