Game-By-Game Projections: Drew Brees (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Brees almost retired before the upcoming NFL season. After the 41-year-old veteran suffered a frustrating playoff home loss to the Minnesota Vikings, some expected him to hang it up. But now that he plans to return, what should that mean for your fantasy teams?
That said, it’s difficult to project when age will sink in for a signal-caller. While I’m going to temper my expectations for Brees’ efficiency in 2020, the improvements to his supporting cast could remedy such a decrease. A healthier Alvin Kamara and newly-signed Emmanuel Sanders should keep Brees in the QB1 conversation.
Week 1: vs. Buccaneers
Brady vs. Brees — it’s an instant classic. Tampa Bay’s defense ranked 12th against the pass last year, but their number one ranking against the run meant opponents had to throw. I’m not high on Tampa’s secondary, however, and this will be a high-scoring game between two elite quarterbacks.
Predicted Stat Line: 36 attempts, 27 completions, 240 yards, 3 TDs (21.60 fantasy points).
Week 2: at Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders play their first game in their new home in this one. The Raiders added cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Prince Amukamara in the offseason, and that should help improve their 30th-ranked passing defense. It won’t be enough to stop Brees, however, and I’m comfortable projecting him for QB1 numbers in this spot.
Predicted Stat Line: 41 attempts, 30 completions, 301 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (18.04 fantasy points).
Week 3: vs. Packers
Matt LaFleur’s Packers ranked ninth against the pass last season. That said, I believe the Saints will still emphasize the pass in this spot, and they should be able to exploit Kevin King with either Sanders or Michael Thomas. You can expect Brees to post solid fantasy numbers against Green Bay, although he may not crack the top-12 passers, especially if the Packers try to control the clock by running the ball.
Predicted Stat Line: 33 attempts, 23 completions, 198 yards, 2 TDs (15.91 fantasy points).
Week 4: at Lions
The Lions ranked 29th against the pass last year. In response, they added both Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah to their secondary, and I’m cautiously optimistic that the duo will find success in 2020. That said, the Lions’ revamped secondary may not be fully up to speed by Week 4, so I’m expecting Brees and the Saints to get the best of them here.
Predicted Stat Line: 38 attempts, 26 completions, 286 yards, 2 TDs 1 INT (17.44 fantasy points).
Week 5: vs. Chargers
The Chargers must turn things around in their first season without Philip Rivers. They finished 19th against the pass last season, but the addition of Chris Harris to work alongside Desmond King and Derwin James is an improvement. While those three players should keep the middle of the field under control, I’m less convinced that Los Angeles can dominate the perimeter. Also, their sluggish run defense could surrender big chunk gains to Alvin Kamara. The Saints could run away with this one early, which would limit Brees’ overall production.
Predicted Stat Line: 27 attempts, 22 completions, 232 yards, 2 TDs (17.28 fantasy points).
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: vs. Panthers
Brees thew for 564 yards in his two appearances against the Panthers last year, and he threw six total touchdowns as well. While Carolina revamped their defense through free agency and the draft, they lost CB1 James Bradberry, and they replaced him with day three draft picks and Eli Apple. I’m not impressed. Brees will have his usual big day against the Panthers here.
Predicted Stat Line: 28 attempts, 23 completions, 276 yards, 3 TDs (23.04 fantasy points).
Week 8: at Bears
I have mixed feelings about the Bears. On the one hand, they ranked eighth against the pass last year; on the other, their best replacement for Prince Amukamara is one of Artie Burns, Buster Skrine, or rookie Jaylon Johnson. Of their whole secondary, only Eddie Jackson has a grade above 65 (except for Johnson’s college grade). Since their rushing defense should get the better of Alvin Kamara, expect the Saints to exploit the Bears’ vulnerabilities through the air.
Predicted Stat Line: 36 attempts, 25 completions, 256 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (18.24 fantasy points).
Week 9: at Buccaneers
Look for the Saints to once again emphasize the pass against Tampa’s pass-funnel defense.
Predicted Stat Line: 32 attempts, 26 completions, 272 yards, 2 TDs (18.88 fantasy points).
Week 10: vs. 49ers
Surprisingly, Brees popped off against the 49ers last year — their second-ranked passing defense couldn’t prevent him from throwing for 349 yards and five scores. That can be explained by the injury to star cornerback Richard Sherman, who suffered a hamstring strain. As long as both teams’ defenses are healthy, it’s hard to see last season repeating itself in this spot. I’m projecting Brees for a mediocre fantasy performance here.
Predicted Stat Line: 25 attempts, 16 completions, 165 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (8.6 fantasy points).
Week 11: vs. Falcons
Not-so-fun fact: Brees only scored one passing touchdown against Atlanta last year. As a team, they only scored two total touchdowns against the Falcons. I think that’s a fluke. The Falcons ranked 25th against the pass last year, and they lost Desmond Trufant. Sure, they drafted A.J. Terrell to replace him, but I’m just not confident in their secondary heading into next season. A lot of the Saints’ yardage may come courtesy of Alvin Kamara here, as the running back posted 288 yards in the teams’ two games in 2018. Brees’ outlook takes a small hit as a result.
Predicted Stat Line: 27 attempts, 22 completions, 201 yards, 2 TDs (16.04 fantasy points).
Week 12: at Broncos
I’m a big believer in Vic Fangio’s Broncos heading into 2020. The addition of Jurrell Casey alongside Von Miller and Bradley Chubb has been one of the most overlooked moves of the offseason, and it gives them an electric pass rush. Yes, they lost Chris Harris, but their elite safety play and addition of A.J. Bouye (if he can rebound) should offset his departure. Brees won’t be a great option for Week 12.
Predicted Stat Line: 24 attempts, 15 completions, 134 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (7.36 fantasy points).
Week 13: at Falcons
After playing them in Week 11, the Saints draw the Falcons again after just one week. Both teams should employ similar gameplans, and I doubt that the Falcons’ secondary will have enough time to adjust to limit Brees’ production.
Predicted Stat Line: 30 attempts, 21 completions, 237 yards, 3 TDs (21.48 fantasy points).
Week 14: at Eagles
The Eagles have a decent secondary, but it’s not very stable. They haven’t had a corner start at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons for them since Nolan Carroll, and it’ll be much of the same in 2020 because the club added Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman in the offseason. I think the unit will have gelled by Week 14, but they won’t be able to fully contain Brees in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 28 attempts, 22 completions, 267 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT (20.68 fantasy points).
Week 15: vs. Chiefs
In the first week of the fantasy playoffs, the Saints draw the Kansas City Chiefs. Their defense ranked sixth against the pass last year, and they were vulnerable on the ground until late in the season. That said, opposing teams routinely exploited the Chiefs’ defense throughout the 2019 playoffs — only for Patrick Mahomes to come from behind. Brees should have a strong first half, but Kansas City’s halftime adjustments could rein him back in.
Predicted Stat Line: 34 attempts, 25 completions, 221 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (14.84 fantasy points).
Week 16: vs. Vikings
The Saints will want some revenge following their early playoff exit last year. They will also need this win for playoff positioning, as I expect them to be jockeying with the Buccaneers for the division title. Minnesota’s defensive strength is in its safeties, and its trio of cornerbacks — Jeff Gladney, Mike Hughes, and Holton Hill — leave something to be desired. While Brees won’t win you your fantasy championship, he won’t lose it for you, either.
Predicted Stat Line: 28 attempts, 22 completions, 217 yards, 2 TDs (16.68 fantasy points).
Week 17: at Panthers
If the Saints aren’t already locked into the NFC’s playoff bye, they should come out fighting for it in Week 17. Brees will once again exploit the Panthers in this spot, although most leagues will have already ended by this point.
Predicted Stat Line: 41 attempts, 32 completions, 311 yards, 3 TDs (24.44 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 508 attempts, 377 completions, 3814 yards, 35 TDs, 7 INTs (278.55 fantasy points).
If Brees posted these numbers last season, he would’ve finished as the QB12. He would’ve finished right between Matt Ryan (281.34) and Tom Brady (271.68), and I think that’s a safe bet given his advanced age.
One reason why Brees won’t finish higher than that is due to his lack of contributions on the ground. Younger, more athletic quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Josh Allen all should finish higher than Brees because they can run the football.
His completion percentage should align with what he’s posted over the last two years. He completed 74.4 percent of his throws in 2018, and 74.3 percent in 2019, so I’m comfortable projecting him to complete 74.2 percent of them here.