Happy Easter! As you’re eating your chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks today, remember that football season is only a few months away! The New Orleans Saints re-signed WR Robert Meachem to a one-year deal on Friday to little fanfare. Despite the fact that there was little buzz at the re-signing, you should take notice of this news. Meachem has played for the Saints in five out of the last six seasons, and though he had a minimal fantasy impact last year, his return will affect both his fantasy relevance as well as that of Drew Brees.
Meachem has never been a huge impact player down the field. In 2013, he had only 16 receptions for about 300 yards and two TDs. But let’s take a quick look at his stats from 2009 to 2011. In those three seasons with the Saints, Meachem averaged 43 receptions per year for 660 yards and seven TDs. While those aren’t dominant numbers, they are certainly flex worthy, especially with Meachem’s career high of nine TDs in 2009.
I’m not sure that he will get so close to double-digit TDs again in 2014, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a relevant flex play week to week. On the surface, his 16 receptions last season aren’t impressive, but that could change next year.
First, he spent the 2012 season trying to prove himself as a No. 1 option with the San Diego Chargers. Meachem had to re-adjust to the Saints’ offense and get re-acquainted with the new changes. He was also sharing the field last year with Lance Moore ahead of him on the depth chart. While the Saints’ passing offense is still hard to predict, his veteran skills will garner looks from Brees.
It will depend on how Kenny Stills and the other Saints WRs continue developing, but if Meachem can keep up his insane 20.3 yards per catch average from last season and return to his former usage from 2009 to 2011, he could catch about 43 balls for just over 800 yards. Pepper in, let’s say five TDs throughout the season, and he would be a great flex or WR3 with a late ADP. Keep your eye out for Meachem heading into these new few months.
Possibly more importantly, though, even if Meachem can’t get back to his old usage, his presence on the field greatly reduces the risk of Drew Brees falling out of the top-three QBs. I was worried about Brees under-performing going into 2014 (as I am about Cam Newton, which you can read about here). With Lance Moore gone and the jury still out on Stills, Brees would’ve been relying on mainly on Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Now with Meachem back, he has a third safety blanket option.
I think that the New Orleans’ offense as a whole will perform better with Meachem back, and that definitely helps all the Saints’ players from a fantasy perspective. Meachem has WR3 upside for the current price of a 10th-round draft pick or later. If he’s available that late in your draft, take a shot on him. Anyone catching balls from Drew Brees always has potential.