INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Bountygate hangs over the New Orleans Saints, who are, all that aside, a fantasy juggernaut in so many regards. So, from a fantasy perspective, put the suspensions of Sean Peyton and Jonathan Vilma aside and look at what the Saints, especially on offense, are. Last year, the Saints were the top offensive unit averaging 467.1 yards per game. That’s about all you need to know from a fantasy perspective. No reason to expect anything less than that type of prolific output again this year.
The Saints have the 11th hardest schedule, according to Vegas. Playing in the NFC South, wher e there aren’t a bunch of defensively stout opponents helps the Saints out. Expect high-scoring affairs more times than not. The Saints’ bye week is Week 6.
You could look many places here, but it’s just so obvious to select Drew Brees. It’s not overly insightful to point out that Drew Brees is a fantasy stud who is a must start, and a safe first-round selection. He broke passing records last year, and there is absolutely no reason to believe there will be any drop at all. I’m throwing in another no-brainer here in tight end Jimmy Graham, who is going in the early rounds of fantasy drafts, and for good reason. He had 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 TDs making him elite. In leagues that require the starting of tight ends, Graham is a must-grab early. Darren Sproles could be on this list too, especially in PPR formats.
Robert Meachem departed via free agency, and some have said that Devery Henderson will benefit. I’m not buying Henderson as a viable fantasy option, even in this prolific offense. Between Marques Colston, Graham, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, there’s too many options, and Henderson is low down the target list.
Mark Ingram came in last year as someone who was predicted to flourish as a rookie. Injuries hampered him a little, and depth at the RB position kept his numbers way down to only 474 yards and 5 TDs. Ingram looks to be in line for more goal line opportunities this year, as the Saints have demonstrated in preseason already. Ingram will improve on his numbers from last year, and can be a nice mid-round selection and potential FLEX or RB3 on your fantasy squad.
The Saints’ off season was quiet from a free agency standpoint. And the one big signing is someone who won’t get drafted on anyone’s fantasy squad. Guard Ben Grubbs arrives to shore up the Saints offensive line. His impact will be felt in protecting Brees and blowing open more holes for the running backs.
The real battle lies in the backfield. Pay no attention to who gets named the starter, as the Saints give lots of love to their running backs. Sproles, Ingram, Pierre Thomas and even Chris Ivory get plenty of opportunities in the backfield. But, which one of this group grabs the most touches is something to watch.
Pierre Thomas only had 5 TDs and 500 yards rushing last season. Nothing to write home about, but Thomas can be looked at as a nice bye week or emergency fill in, and someone to consider handcuffing if you draft Sproles or Ingram.
Fantasy Football, NFL