Old Face, New Place: Now In New Orleans, Can Emmanuel Sanders Re-Emerge?


by Ray Kuhn

At age 33, Emmanuel Sanders will be joining his third team in the last two seasons (after splitting 2019 between Denver and San Francisco) and it is clear that he has lost a step. At the same time he can still be a useful fantasy option for the 2020 campaign. A portion of that optimism can be attributed to calling New Orleans home, but his production last season could have been a lot worse.

Between his two stops, neither of which were truly proficient passing offenses, Sanders caught 66 passes (on 97 targets) for 869 yards and 5 TD. No one will confuse him with being an explosive option or big play threat, but for his career he is averaging 13.8 yards per reception.

In his prime he benefited from playing opposite Antonio Brown, and with aving Ben Roethlisberger under center. However, his real emergence came after he signed with the Broncos. His first season in Denver saw him catch 101 passes for 1,404 yards and 9 TD (all career highs), and he followed that up with two more seasons of more than 1,000 receiving yards.

With his move to New Orleans a positive situation is in the cards fas he will be lining up across the field from Michael Thomas with Drew Brees throwing him passes and defenses will have to key on Alvin Kamara carrying the ball. So the Saints are going to have a pretty powerful offense, and Sanders certainly will benefit.

But how much more can we expect from him?

Sanders gets a handful of 40-plus yard receptions each season, but in reality he is more of a possession receiver. As pedestrian as last season may appear, it was also Sanders’ best performance since 2016.

That is probably a good place to start as look towards 2020. Can we really expect that much more from him than what we have seen over the last three seasons? Even if we don’t, it is comforting to know that there is a solid floor, as is the potential for a return to his prime years.

The 10 yard average depth of target is the main factor that will limit his value, as his downfield days are coming to a close. In the Saints offense, there is still enough to work with based on the volume and strong supporting cast. With a 0% drop rate and 69.8% catch rate last season, Sanders has proven to be reliable.

Sanders has yet to reach double digits in touchdowns in his career, and 2020 will not be any different which means he is a more valuable option in PPR leagues. As the 46th receiver coming off the board, with an ADP through mid-May of 123, Sanders is being valued pretty reasonably and there isn’t much risk or reward in play. That makes him the perfect fourth receiver for your team.

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

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PositionLast Updated
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Third Baseman04/20/20


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