QB Drew Brees (New Orleans)
Drew Brees was insane last season with 5476 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He won’t be that good again for 3 reasons. One, no one does that. Two, he lost one of his starting receivers, Robert Meachem. Three, he lost his Head Coach. He should see his YPA go down, as well as his TD:INT ratio, but the Saints have thrown the ball 1315 times in the last 2 years so Brees has a chance to get 5000 yards again. They didn’t make an outside hire for interim head coach so the offensive philosophy will remain the same.
Projection: 4930 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 40 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown (325 pts standard/401 pts in 6 pt TD leagues)
RB Darren Sproles (New Orleans)
I have Darren Sproles rated lower than most places. The reason behind this is that he gets so few carries, he needs to average a very high YPC and catch a ton of passes to be fantasy relevant. He did that last year, averaging 6.9 YPC and catching 86 passes for 710 yards last season. However, those were both clear career highs and probably not replicable. Also, 7 of his 9 touchdowns were receiving last year. 7 receiving touchdowns for a running back is also unheard of. I don’t see that as replicable either. He should still come close to all 3 of those numbers in an explosive offense and a role he fits in perfectly.
Projection: 80 carries 450 rushing yards 7 total touchdowns 70 catches 600 receiving yards (147 pts standard/217 pts PPR)
RB Mark Ingram (New Orleans)
8/7/12: Mark Ingram is healthy and the Saints reportedly want him to have 200 touches or more this season. He was on pace for 213 as a rookie in 10 games, missing 6 with injury. There’s definitely upside with him potentially having a breakout year in 2012. He’ll also get the goal line carries, which there figure to be plenty of in New Orleans.
I’m not expecting the breakout season for Mark Ingram that many are. For one, he just had another knee surgery. He’s not the most durable player. Two, the Saints have 2 other talented backs, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, to take carries from him. Finally, no Saints’ running back has surpassed 176 carries since 2006. Sean Payton loves to use multiple backs and he has multiple talented backs once again this season. I know Payton isn’t the coach, but their two interim coaches are both former Payton assistants. The offensive philosophy will likely be the same. Besides, I’m sure Sean Payton will find some way to bend the rules or break them without getting caught and have some influence on this team.
Projection: 170 carries 770 rushing yards 8 total touchdowns 25 catches 170 receiving yards (142 pts standard/167 pts PPR)
RB Pierre Thomas (New Orleans)
8/7/12: Mark Ingram being healthy is bad news for Pierre Thomas. There’s not enough room for Ingram, Sproles, and Thomas to all have fantasy value. He’s a pure handcuff to Ingram.
Pierre Thomas is the 3rd running back in New Orleans again. Like last year, there’s no point in owning him unless there’s an injury. He’ll get 100 or so carries (110 last year) and catch a good amount of passes (a career high 50 last year), but not enough to make much of a mark in fantasy.
Projection: 90 carries 410 rushing yards 4 total touchdowns 30 catches 230 receiving yards (88 pts standard/118 pts PPR)
WR Marques Colston (New Orleans)
He gets a rep for being injury prone, but he’s only had less than 70 catches for 1000 yards and 7 touchdowns once in his 6 year career so there’s minimal downside for him. He remains the top wide receiver on one of the best passing offenses in the league. In 14 games last year, he had 80 catches for 1143 yards and 8 touchdowns in 14 games. He’s only played 16 games twice, but there’s potential for improvement on last year’s numbers.
Projection: 83 catches 1190 receiving yards 9 receiving touchdowns (173 pts standard/256 pts PPR)
WR Lance Moore (New Orleans)
Moore is another player with an injury history, but he had 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games in 2008 and 66 catches for 763 yards and 8 touchdowns in 16 games in 2010. Last year, he had 52 catches for 657 yards and 8 touchdowns in 14 games. With Robert Meachem gone, there’s definitely room for improvement on those numbers, especially if he stays healthy the whole season.
Projection: 63 catches 750 receiving yards 8 receiving touchdowns (123 pts standard/186 pts PPR)
WR Devery Henderson (New Orleans)
Henderson will step into the starting lineup for Robert Meachem. The problem is he’s not really that talented. He had 32 catches for 503 yards and 2 touchdowns as the 4th receiver and should get close to the 40 catches for 620 yards and 6 touchdowns Meachem had last year, but there’s not a ton of upside here unless Colston gets hurt. Henderson could even see rookie 4th rounder Nick Toon challenge for his job late in the season.
Projection: 42 catches 630 receiving yards 5 receiving touchdowns (93 pts standard/135 pts PPR)
TE Jimmy Graham (New Orleans)
Jimmy Graham caught 99 passes for 1310 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. He probably will have less this season as Brees can’t possibly be as good as last year, and also because of the situation at Head Coach. However, I still like him over Rob Gronkowski because his team didn’t add a ton of receiving options through free agency.
Projection: 88 catches 1180 receiving yards 11 receiving touchdowns (184 pts standard/272 pts PPR)