New Orleans Saints 2013 Fantasy Football Team Preview
In 2012, the New Orleans Saints looked more like the New Orleans Ain’ts. RIGHT?!
Awful old jokes aside, it was a pretty rough season down there. Things were marred before the season even began with the bounty scandal, and the team was never truly able to find its groove without head coach Sean Payton. They were one of three teams in their division to finish 7-9. Now, Payton is back on the sidelines, and Drew Brees and co. are hoping to get back into the playoff mix out of the NFC South.
How are their fantasy prospects? Let’s break them down as we continue to prep for the 2013 fantasy football season:
QB Drew Brees
Brees posted another massive season in 2012, even without Payton in the mix. His 43 touchdown passes led the league, as did his 5,177 passing yards. The one thing that keeps him from being fantasy’s undisputed No. 1 QB ahead of Aaron Rodgers is his interception totals, however, and he had 19 of those last year to tie Tony Romo for the most in the NFL. But the band is coming back again, and Brees will have his buddies Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Marques Colston all back for more this season. He’s my No. 2-ranked QB.
RB Darren Sproles
Sproles is an absolute menace in PPR, and owners are fortunate he retains his RB eligibility year-to-year, considering he’ll finish the year with more catches than carries. He’s an absolutely wonderful option in the flex, even in standard leagues, as he’s almost guaranteed to finish with double-digit fantasy points on a weekly basis. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas can split carries all they want, but Sproles will always be the most valuable Saints running back in fantasy. If you’re hurting for RBs, you can get away with starting him as a RB2, too.
RB Mark Ingram
Ingram has underwhelmed in his two NFL seasons thus far, and he’s failed to emerge from the crowded New Orleans backfield despite being a former first-round pick. He’s off the field in passing situations, as that’s Darren Sproles’ wheelhouse, and Thomas has shown at times he can be more explosive than Ingram. While he could see his role expand if he’s healthy, I’m going to be more comfortable taking a wait-and-see approach with Ingram. He could still get some looks around the goal-line, but he hasn’t even been particularly effective in those situations, yet. For now, it’s safest to tab him as a backup.
RB Pierre Thomas
Thomas has been a better fantasy option than Ingram in the last two seasons, due in large part to his pass-catching. He has 89 catches since 2011, compared to just 17 for Ingram. Considering the Saints’ fondness for throwing the football, this may be enough of a reason to give the nod to Thomas over Ingram yet again, if the two are indeed splitting carries. Keep an eye on this situation as the season gets closer, but Ingram isn’t a fantasy starter, either.
WR Marques Colston
Colston is routinely underrated as a fantasy commodity. Every year, he’ll get you somewhere around 80 catches for 1,100 yards and 7-10 touchdowns. He’s not phenomenal, but he gets the job done, and is as solid a fantasy WR2 as they come. The other receivers on the Saints roster turnover year-to-year, but Colston is always there as one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets. Getting Colston between rounds for and five in your fantasy draft is very good value.
WR Lance Moore
Moore had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2012, as he caught 65 passes for just over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns. He’s proven himself to be a reliable target for Brees out of the slot, and he’s got some big-play ability, as well. He’s often the forgotten man with Sproles, Colston and Jimmy Graham in the Saints’ passing attack, but he has pretty decent WR3 potential. I’d be more comfortable stashing him on my bench as a WR4 or WR5, but you can do worse than Lance Moore.
WR Kenny Stills
The former Oklahoma Sooner is the odds-on favorite to land the Saints’ No. 3 WR gig with Joe Morgan having gone down early in camp with an ACL tear, due in large part to a strong performance throughout preseason thus far. He’s caught five passes for 86 yards with a touchdown in two games, and he has elite speed, making him a legit deep threat. Even if he does win the third WR job, though, that still makes him Drew Brees’ fifth-best option overall. He may have some Devery Henderson-esque all-or-nothing value, but not much more.
WR Nick Toon
Toon has a chance at seeing the field when New Orleans spreads it out and goes four or five-wide, but that’s about it. Stills’ stronger camp may make it difficult for Toon to find playing time, which means you’re looking elsewhere for viable fantasy options.
TE Jimmy Graham
With Rob Gronkowski’s status still up-in-the-air, Graham is the undisputed No. 1 tight end in fantasy. Over the last three seasons, the immense 6’7″ Graham has scored 25 touchdowns on 216 catches for over 2,600 yards. His insane 2011 year (99 catches, 1,310 yards, 11 TD) put him right up there with legitimate fantasy football WR1s. Getting this kind of production out of your tight end spot, which is one of fantasy’s most-shallow, is invaluable.
K Garrett Hartley
New Orleans moves the ball and scores with the best of them, so Hartley naturally has plenty of scoring opportunities, himself. Unfortunately, the vast majority of his scoring opps were XPs, not FGs, so his totals weren’t as high as one may expect. Middle-of-the-road fantasy kicker.
The Saints’ defense was, statistically, the worst in the history of the NFL in 2012. Let that sink in a bit. While there’s obviously nowhere to go but up, you’d have to be insane to trot this unit out there for your team. No, thanks.