Drew Brees fantasy owners, it’s time to panic. The New Orleans Saints have already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and have nothing to play for in Week 17. Because of this, head coach Sean Payton has opted to rest his 38-year old superstar quarterback. In his place, 26-year old quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will make his first career start since 2015. Bridgewater, a former first-round pick, is one of the better backups in the league. Is he capable of being a streamer candidate, or should fantasy football owners look somewhere else for quarterback help?
Fantasy Football: Setting Expectations for Teddy Bridgewater Without Drew Brees
Even when Bridgewater was the future of the Minnesota Vikings franchise, he was never a great fantasy option. Playing in 29 games, Bridgewater completed 64.9% of his passes for 6,150 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions over his first two seasons. In his lone season starting all 16 games (2015), Bridgewater finished as the QB23 in standard scoring, per Pro Football Reference.
Since then, Bridgewater suffered a serious knee injury which reportedly almost cost him his career. After rehabbing for all of 2016 and the majority of 2017, the former first-round pick returned as Minnesota’s third-string quarterback. The Vikings opted not to pick up his fifth-year option, allowing Bridgewater to hit free agency with just one pass attempt all season long.
While this may not paint the prettiest picture for Bridgewater, there is hope he could improve. Bridgewater signed with the Jets in 2018 and put together a fantastic preseason. Playing in three preseason games, Bridgewater completed 73.7% of his passes for 316 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Preseason football is obviously a lot different from regular season action, but Bridgewater looked to be fully healthy and comfortable on the football field. The Saints liked what they saw enough to send over a third-round pick for Bridgewater’s services.
Saints head coach Sean Payton is one of the most brilliant offensive minds in the league, so playing for him should help Bridgewater’s final production. However, there’s a lot of unknowns here, so let’s take a deeper dive into the matchup and the situational scenarios which could affect Sunday’s outcome.
Bridgewater faces off against a Carolina Panthers defense which just hasn’t looked right all season long. Carolina enters Week 17 averaging the 10th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. This shows that this defense can be exploited by a guy like Bridgewater.
The biggest question in this game is what the Saints will do on offense. Drew Brees isn’t going to play, and chances are star players like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara will also sit that one out. Obviously, losing superstar talent is going to negatively impact Bridgewater’s final line. Also, since this game means nothing to the Saints, they’ll just try to get out of the Week 17 as quick as possible in order to minimize injury risk.
That said, the Saints will probably want to see what Bridgewater can do with the ball. Bridgewater is in the final year of his contract, and the Saints gave up a third-round pick for his services. Drew Brees is still fantastic but is also getting old. Bridgewater was acquired to be the heir to the throne, and New Orleans will need to make a big decision on Bridgewater sooner rather than later.
The Saints need to know what they have in Bridgewater, and you can only learn so much from practices. Head coach Sean Payton will give Bridgewater a full set of plays to run, and it’ll be up to Bridgewater to execute them. Facing off against a subpar defense, he should find success whenever he throws the ball.
Last Word on Teddy Bridgewater Starting For Drew Brees
If Drew Brees brought you to a championship, you might want to look to his backup to bring you the rest of the way. He’s not nearly the player Brees is, but he’s an interesting streaming candidate. Bridgewater has a history of starting, looked good in the preseason, and has one of the best offensive minds in the league as his head coach. Payton and the Saints will want to see what they have in Bridgewater, so they’ll probably let him come out of the gate with a full playbook.
That said, Bridgewater was never the best quarterback from a fantasy perspective. He hasn’t started a game since 2015, and there’s no replacement for regular season action. Even when he was playing, he finished 2015 as the QB23. On top of that, there’s a very real possibility that the Saints go into a heavy clock-kill mode if Payton sees everything he needs to see out of Bridgewater.
All this adds up to making Bridgewater a low-level streaming candidate. In deeper leagues, he can fill in and get the job done. He’s probably not a better play than a guy like Sam Darnold, but Bridgewater can give you some production in a deeper two-quarterback league.
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