New Orleans Saints
Just how good is Alvin Kamara? We’re going to find out in 2018 as the New Orleans Saints open up the season (Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports)

The New Orleans Saints were a miracle in Minnesota away from playing the Eagles in the NFC Title Game. Who knows…maybe New Orleans wins it. This team is talented and has overstocked their young talent in virtually an hour. Drew Brees still brings it and Sean Payton is one of the better play callers in the NFL. The Saints defense is no longer a disaster either and probably has the best pure team in a loaded NFC South. Will the Saints repeat as division champs in 2018 or will Drew Brees start to play like a washed quarterback who is about to enter his 40’s? What are the storylines to watch with the New Orleans Saints in 2018?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

1. Tight End: Benjamin Watson, Josh Hill, Deon Yelder

The Saints got almost nothing out of Colby Fleener last year and really haven’t had a productive tight end since Jimmy Graham. Recent miseries at the tight end spot don’t look like they’re changing anytime soon. Ben Watson is a journeyman who is pretty much done. Josh Hill is going to start and probably wouldn’t make a lot of rosters in the NFL. Hill has caught a total of 31 passes the past two years. It’s ugly.

2. Middle Linebacker: Demario Davis, Manti Teo

Manti Teo was the primary middle linebacker in New Orleans a year ago but he didn’t do anything to set the world on fire. 62 total tackles show exactly what he is. A slow-footed middle linebacker who is nothing more than average. Demario Davis was brought in to bring some competition in. Davis should start after having a breakout year with the Jets racking up 135 tackles. They could get creative with Davis, however, using him in blitz packages instead.

3. Safety: Marcus Williams, Vonn Bell, Kurt Coleman

I’m sure the Saints would love Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell to grab the bull by the horns and take over as starters. Vonn Bell is probably the box safety after Kenny Vaccaro was sent packing. The free safety spot is open and some doubt has to be in the minds of the franchise after Marcus Williams made that bonehead play against the Vikings. Williams had a fantastic rookie season but Kurt Coleman was signed this offseason in case he’s needed.

Ready To Breakout: Alvin Kamara

I think everyone is well aware of how good Alvin Kamara is but year-two will define just how high his ceiling is. Alvin Kamara averaged over 6 yards per rush as a rookie. That’s literally impossible. Kamara scored 13 touchdowns on the season and started the season as the third-string back behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson. Now Ingram is suspended to start the 2018 season and Kamara is the workhorse. He has the opportunity now to prove he’s not just good but the best running back in the NFL. Let’s see what happens.

Rookie To Watch: Marcus Davenport

There was no other choice but Marcus Davenport because the Saints sold the farm to go get him. Giving up future first round picks is no small thing in the NFL and Davenport has to deliver as a future Pro Bowler to make it worth the cost of acquisition. Davenport has some work to do after an up and down Senior Bowl week.

NFC South 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Panthers Fail, Saints Risk It All

Fantasy Sleeper: Tre’Quan Smith

Michael Thomas is one of the best receivers in the NFL but he doesn’t have a reliable running mate. Ted Ginn can take the top off but that’s really all they have outside of Thomas. Tre’Quan Smith was drafted in the third round to hopefully be a solid number two option. Smith looks like he can be a possession guy from day one and really impressed during the pre-draft process. Thomas is also on the PUP list to start off training camp so Smith may need to be ready sooner rather than later.

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