Fantasy football: Impact of Derek Carr signing with New Orleans Saints

Derek Carr comes to New Orleans seeking his first top-10 fantasy season at the position. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is signing with the New Orleans Saints, sources told ESPN. Carr is reunited with head coach Dennis Allen, who was the Raiders' head coach when he was drafted in 2014. He joins a team with two excellent offensive playmakers in Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave, so let's take a look at what effect Carr's arrival means in fantasy football terms.

Despite the arrival of former college teammate and star receiver Davante Adams, Carr struggled in 2022. In 15 games with the Raiders, he averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game (20th among QBs with at least 10 games played) while throwing for 3,522 yards and 24 touchdowns. He had an interception rate of 2.8%, which was the highest of his career, and a 60.8% completion rate, which was the lowest since his rookie season. Those are reasons for concern about Carr, but maybe the change of scenery and coaching will prompt a bounce back. The Saints sure hope so.

Since Drew Brees retired, the Saints have struggled to find adequate quarterback play, as they have ranked near the bottom of the league in completion percentage, passing yards per game and interception rate the past two seasons. The good news is that Carr has a solid group of receivers in New Orleans and plays in one of the weakest divisions in the NFC. In addition, Carr gets to play alongside the Saints' stout defense, a luxury he didn't have with the Raiders. Las Vegas' defense allowed 26.1 points per game during Carr's tenure, the most of any starting quarterback to start 50 games in the Super Bowl era.

Carr is a very good fit for the Saints' offense and is only one season removed from throwing for 4,804 yards and 23 touchdowns back in 2021. While he has a chance to replicate that performance in 2023, even that strong season didn't launch him into starting territory among fantasy QBs (he was 14th). In fact, Carr has never finished in the top 10 at the position in fantasy points.

If we're tempering fantasy expectations for Carr, what about his most fantasy-relevant teammates?

His arrival shouldn't change things for Kamara and the running game, since Carr is not known for his rushing ability. Over the past four seasons, Kamara has averaged 19.1 touches and 100.7 total yards per game. It's likely that trend should continue in 2023, provided Kamara plays. The veteran running back was recently indicted on two criminal charges for allegedly assaulting a man outside a nightclub the night before the Pro Bowl more than one year ago. The NFL has not decided on potential punishment, but a suspension is possible.

On the receiver front, it still remains to be seen what happens with Michael Thomas, who restructured his deal earlier this offseason. Thomas has played just three games the past two seasons due to ankle and foot injuries. Regardless, Olave is easily the player who benefits most from Carr's arrival. The 22-year-old rookie finished with 1,042 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season with Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston under center. Olave and Brandin Cooks are the only players in Saints history with a 1,000-yard season at age 22 or younger. Carr will look to exploit Olave's ability to attack defenses vertically and create separation. Last season, Carr led the league in touchdowns on downfield passes of 30 yards or more and on passes into tight windows.