The following is a guest contribution exclusive to Canal Street Chronicles, from Greg Brosh of Fantasy Knuckleheads
When you think of the Saints and fantasy football, you have to look no further than Drew Brees. As the Saints quarterback for the past seven years, Brees' stats can be summed up in two words: fantasy gold.
As a Saint, Brees has averaged 302 passing yards per game. He's also been a scoring machine. Especially over the past two years where he has totaled a whopping 89 touchdown passes. The one thing that makes Brees so good is the fact that he does one thing very few other NFL quarterbacks can do: Make players around him better. That speaks volumes in terms of fantasy value for 2013. Looking at the current numbers, Brees is neck-and-neck with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers for the top spot as this year's No. 1 fantasy quarterback. Rodgers' ADP (Average Draft Position) comes in at 21.71, with Brees at 30.37. The only thing that is holding Brees back from the top spot is interceptions. Even though Brees has averaged a little over 44 touchdown passes between 2011 and 2012, he's also racked up 33 interceptions (Rodgers only has 14 in the same span). However, this shouldn't push owners away from taking Brees as their QB1 again this year since his positives clearly outweigh the negatives.
Marques Colston might be the team's No. 1 receiver, but Jimmy Graham is clearly the No. 2 fantasy option behind Brees. Coming off a career-high 99 catches for 1310 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011, Graham's numbers slumped in 2012. There were a few factors that went into such low numbers, with the biggest being a wrist injury that he had been dealing with all season. Now back at full health, Graham should have an easier time at recapturing his fantasy numbers from 2011. He's currently ranked No. 1 in both PPR and non-PPR leagues. And since he's such a huge part of the Saints' offense, collecting more receptions than many receivers in the NFL, I'd even consider taking Graham before WR1's like Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson in PPR leagues. A 100-catch season is knocking on the door.
Colston has been flying under the radar so far this offseason in terms of fantasy value, despite coming off three-straight seasons of 80 catches or more. And he's still ranked behind guys who have more question marks going into the season like Dwayne Bowe and Wes Welker. With that said, his current ranking as the 18th-overall fantasy receiver comes with some value. Along with his catches, he has also hovered around 1100 receiving yards over the last three years. It's clear that Colston will never surpass Graham as the team's focal point of the passing offense, but 80-85 catches, 1050-1150 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns are easily attainable. Colston will continue to be a mid-tier WR2.
Sticking with the Saints' receiving corps; Lance Moore's stat-line of 65 catches, 1041 receiving yards and six touchdowns from 2013 might look good on the surface, but Moore is feast-or-famine in the fantasy world. There were four weeks where he put up 120 or more receiving yards (1, 7, 13, 17), but would then come back down several weeks in between. Plus he would give you seven receptions one week and two the next. This doesn't necessarily mean Moore isn't worth drafting in the later rounds, just don't expect consistency from week-to-week. With Colston and Graham getting most of Brees' attention, Moore is nothing more than a flex option and a low-end sleeper candidate. Make sure to check out Fantasy Knuckleheads for more fantasy football sleepers.
A migraine is the one word that sums up my thoughts on the fantasy value of the Saints backfield. There is a term in the NFL that is running rampant over the last few seasons: Running Back By Committee (RBBC). The Saints have taken this term and turned it up a notch. Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas all have a role in this offense, but there is no doubt that Sproles is the most talented of the trio as far as fantasy value goes. His rushing and receiving numbers continue to keep him within the top 20 rankings amongst his fellow fantasy running backs. With Sean Payton back after serving his suspension, I'm banking on Sproles going back to his 2011 numbers (173 touches, 1313 yards, 9 touchdowns) instead of repeating the disaster that was 2012. As the 19th-ranked running back, Sproles could easily outscore his current ADP. This gives him the best value of all Saints' fantasy players listed. In regards to Ingram and Thomas, I'd leave both of these guys alone in standard twelve-team leagues. Ingram is no longer looking like the first rounder the Saints were hoping for. Thomas will need an injury to Sproles in order to have any sort of value. I'd leave both in the free agent pool and see if one of them heats up during the season, which is highly doubtful.
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