The New Orleans Saints have long been one of the best teams in the NFL in terms of being able to produce fantasy football options. This year will pretty much be more of the same for the Saints, as they have some serious talent worth considering drafting at quarterback running back and wide receiver.
Is Drew Brees Still Elite?
One of the most prolific gunslingers in the history of the NFL, and one of the most dynamic fantasy football quarterbacks of all time is Drew Brees. This should be another excellent season for Brees, as I have him ranked as the 6th best quarterback coming into this season. There are a number of receiving weapons for Brees to work with this season, not that it even really matters. Brees could be throwing to the Montreal Allouettes receiving corps and still have great numbers. Expect Brees to put up over 30 touchdowns, over 4,500 yards, while probably close to 20 interceptions should help keep him just barely outside of the top-5.
Mark Ingram vs. C.J. Spiller
There are two great fantasy football options in the Saints running back corps: Mark Ingram and CJ Spiller. Ingram is the more true option, and is going to be a great runner who will serve as the Saints RB1. I have Ingram ranked as the 13th best running back going into fantasy football drafts this year. Ingram would be ranked a little higher but he has struggled to put together a 16 game season throughout his career. Spiller is not a RB1 or RB2 for your fantasy lineup like Ingram is, but Spiller could be a steal value to work into your flex for his upside potential. Playing on the Saints and taking the third down back role over could be huge for Spiller, as he will have the opportunity to work into the Darren Sproles type of role in New Orleans. Spiller is of course a liability due to his injury track record, but for his average draft position of 77th overall (according to fantasypros.com) he could be an awesome pick to work into your flex spot.
Brandin Cooks and Then What?
The Saints wide receiver corps is one of the weakest it’s been in years from a fantasy perspective. Like the Saints running back’s the Saints wide receivers have two options really worth looking at: Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. Cooks is a beast of a young prospect where the sky is the limit. He’s moved up into the WR1 slot on the Saints and should be considered a solid WR2 or flex starter for your fantasy team. Cooks is a home run threat, but is also poised to be a reception monster considering Brees throws the ball about as much as anyone. With Colston you pretty much know what you are getting. But so do the Saints. With the exit of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills it should be safe to say that Colston will be Brees’ safety blanket this season as he has by far the most cohesion with Brees. Colston has often been a disappointment in terms of fantasy production, and I don’t think he will be a stud this year either by any stretch. However, I think Colston will have a lot of receptions, making him a legit flex or WR3 prospect in PPR formats, but in regular formats he should sit on your bench and maybe work into a flex start during bye weeks. Brandon Coleman is a young guy to watch, as he’s a size/speed guy who could begin the year as Brees’ #3 wide receiver. It’s anyone’s guess if he’ll pan out, but he could be worth a late-round flier.
Replacing Jimmy Graham
With the exit of tight end extraordinaire Jimmy Graham, the starting position is wide open for Saints tight ends to swoop in and take. There are two guys primed to divide the time of the starting tight end, Ben Watson and Josh Hill. Watson is a little older and will take a lot of the blocking reps, while Josh Hill is more primed to take over the receiving role left behind by Graham. Hill has tremendous upside playing with Brees as his quarterback, but is largely unproven. This makes him an intriguing prospect to draft late as a TE2, because he really could heat up and work into upwards of the top 10 at the position. It’s also possible that he doesn’t even crack the top 20 of the position, so you definitely don’t want to be in a position where you have to rely on Hill.
Dustin Hopkins Finally Gets His Shot
Saints kicker Dustin Hopkins is an unproven prospect, but he has great potential as a fantasy kicker for a multitude of reasons. First of all playing in New Orleans, in the NFC South, Hopkins stands to play 10 games in domes automatically. Also, the Saints are so good offensively the will constantly be in position for Hopkins to hit field goals or extra points, but the Saints also are poised to be worse in red-zone efficiency due to Graham’s absence from the team. Reduced red zone efficiency means more field goal opportunities. Of course this is Hopkins first true NFL season and he is completely unproven because of that, but he is certainly a promising prospect for your fantasy kicker position.
Can Saints D Rise From Ashes?
The Saints defense has been notoriously poor for the last several seasons, and they really haven’t done much to make me think they have gotten much better this year. Also, consider that the Saints are such an offensive powerhouse that teams are going to be running up the score against them to try and keep up with the dynamic Saints offense. I really don’t think the Saints D will be worth considering at all as a fantasy option. They would be a spot starter during a rough bye week at best.
What do you think of the Saints fantasy outlook this year? Let us know in the comments!