The New Orleans Saints are a team who have endured and overcome some challenging obstacles through the past several years. From the destruction that Hurricane Katrina caused to their Superdome in 2005, forcing the Saints to play their home games that year in alternate locations to the bounty scandal in 2010-2011, faithful Saints’ fans have remained on the rollercoaster showing their loyalty to the boundless team of black and gold.
Since winning the Super Bowl in 2009, Quarterback, Drew Brees and the Saints have made it to playoffs in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, however, the team finished a little flat ending the season 7-9. Now that head coach Sean Peyton is back as a solid leader for the team, “who dat” fans would love to see their team make a comeback in 2013. Fantasy owners mainly wish for the multiple fantasy points from their top Saints’ players to continue rolling in.
What can we expect to see in 2013 for some of the key players from the Saints?
Drew Brees, Quarterback
Without a doubt, if you have seven-time pro-bowler, Drew Brees on your fantasy football team, you are rarely ever disappointed with the fantasy points he scores for you every week. Brees, who was first place in fantasy points among quarterbacks last year with 345.58, is the quarterback to own if you are fortunate to pick him up during drafts. In 2012, he passed for an incredible 5177 yards, (his second time to surpass the 5000 yard mark), and scored 43 passing touchdowns. He was, however, the victim of 19 interceptions, but fortunately the high passing yards and touchdowns made up for the fantasy points lost for those interceptions.
Can Brees’ owners expect to see this level of production in 2013, or will the 34-year-old veteran slow down? I would definitely take my chances with Brees this year, as I think he still has a lot of gun-slinging left, and his leadership combined with the chemistry he has with his team remains in full-force.
If you plan to try to draft this elite quarterback for your fantasy team, you will need to be the early bird who sacrifices choosing a running back or wide receiver in the second or early third round in order to pick up Drew Brees. His average draft pick (ADP) is currently 3.01. Those who draft Brees will hope to see the same phenomenal numbers and points mirror what he has put up over the past couple of seasons.
2013 Projected Statistics: 5021 Passing Yards, 41 Touchdowns, 13 Interceptions
Jimmy Graham, Tight End
Speaking of Saints’ studs, meet Drew Brees’ right-hand man, Tight End, Jimmy Graham. Graham was the most productive tight end last year in the NFL scoring first place in fantasy points with 152.20, catching for 982 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. The prior year in 2011, he ranked second highest in fantasy points for tight ends.
The duo of Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham is one-of-a-kind between tight ends and quarterbacks. Graham is one of Brees’ most heavily targeted players who received 85 passes from the hands of his quarterback last year. Standing at a stately 6’-7” tall, Graham should continue to be relied heavily upon in 2013. I would not expect to see much decline if any in the amount of fantasy points Jimmy Graham will give you this year. We may even see more.
Like the draft situation above with Drew Brees, once again a late first round or second round draft pick for another position will have to be sacrificed for Graham, as it will be the only way to acquire this valuable, point-producing tight end, whose ADP currently stands at 2.08.
2013 Projected Statistics: 971 Receiving Yards, 89 Receptions and 10 Touchdowns
Marques Colston, Wide Receiver
Saints’ Wide Receiver, Marques Colston holds the number one receiving slot on the Saints’ depth chart, but expect his targets to be less than those of a solid wide receiver one because of Jimmy Graham. The capable, 6’-4” Colston, who has been with the Saints since his 2006 start in the NFL, finished 11th place for wide receivers in 2012 with 171.40 fantasy points, 10 touchdowns and 1154 receiving yards.
Colston’s 2011 stats were similar to those of 2012 where he finished 12th place in fantasy points for wide receivers. What Colston brings to the Saints is consistency, as he did break the 1000 yard mark in receiving yards the last two years.
Fantasy owners should be able to expect mid-level wide receiver fantasy points on a regular basis. With so many Saints in the backfield for Drew Brees to target, I would speculate that the numbers for Marques Colston will be fairly comparable to those the past couple of seasons. His current ADP stands at 4.08.
2013 Projected Statistics: 1145 Receiving Yards, 81 Receptions, 9 Touchdowns
Darren Sproles, Running Back
The Saints are clearly known for their heavy passing game as the running game is not relied upon much by Drew Brees and the gang. The primary Saints running back worth reviewing as a relevant part of your fantasy football team is Darren Sproles.
Sproles is best known and uniquely used by the Saints not only for rushing, but catching short passes and receiving kickoff returns. Because of the various positions Sproles is utilized, the speedy, 5’-6” back provides more value to fantasy football leagues who use a points per reception (PPR) scoring system versus a standard scoring system; which only awards points to running backs for rushing yards and touchdowns.
Unfortunately, for those who owned Darren Sproles last year, his numbers took a substantial dip from what they were in 2011, his debut season with the Saints. In 2012, Sproles finished 22nd for running backs using the PPR scoring system with 244 rush yards, 1 rush touchdown, and 667 receiving yards, with seven receiving touchdowns. Sproles did miss a few weeks with a broken hand, but the overall production and explosiveness of the Sproles from 2011 was not present.
Compare Sproles’ stats from those in 2011 where he finished 10th place in PPR leagues for running backs and that would be the Darren Sproles you would hope to see return in 2013. If he can remain healthy, retain his role as kickoff returner and catch Drew Brees’ eye a few more times, Sproles makes a nice flex position in PPR fantasy leagues. Currently, he is being selected in mock drafts in early round four. I would not go out on a limb to draft him, but if you find he fits into your team as a third running back for your roster, you could do worse.
2013 Projected Statistics Rushing: 477 Rush Yards, 3 Rush Touchdowns
2013 Projected Statistics Receiving: 685 Receiving Yards, 6 Receiving Touchdowns
Lance Moore, Wide Receiver
As previously stated with the Saints’ crowded backfield of capable receivers, Lance Moore, who does receive some of the targets unfortunately shares a bunch of them with Graham and Colston. Luckily, Brees throws a lot, so last year Moore was the recipient of 1041 yards and six touchdowns but only 65 targets, ranking 20th among wide receivers in 2012.
Moore filled in for Darren Sproles a few times and was used as a kickoff returner so if that ends up happening in 2013, he holds a bit more upside in PPR leagues. Fantasy-wise, he is usually available up until the 10th – 11th round in mock drafts, so he makes a handy player to secure and use as an occasional flex or bye-week replacement.
2013 Projected Statistics: 945 Receiving Yards, 7 Touchdowns, 62 Receptions
Honorable Mentions: Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram, Running Backs
The bottom line is the Saints do not run the ball very much, so talented players like Running Backs, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram do not get many chances to show their fancy footwork on the field. They also have to compete with Darren Sproles when the ball is ran.
Pierre Thomas finished 32nd among running backs last year with 473 rush yards, one touchdown and 354 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. His fellow back, Mark Ingram followed next in 33rd place with 603 rush yards, five touchdowns and 29 receiving yards. Both running backs should only be drafted in late rounds and stashed unless for some reason the Saints offensive game plan changes dramatically and turns to a heavier running game, or Drew Brees misses time on the field.