Wednesday, June 13, 2012

32 in 32:New Orleans Saints

The Saints are in a strange and dangerous place this season. By now everyone who is even remotely interested in football knows about the Saints difficulty with the NFL law, and how Sean Payton is suspended for the season. I don't know about the evidence for or against any of the NFL players, but I know that the case against Payton was air-tight. Payton sent and email saying that he had 5k for the player who took out Aaron Rodgers in the season opener, and his suspension was about him lying to the NFL rather than the actual act of participating in the program. This really isn't as important as most people are making it out to be. The more important issue is that Drew Brees is still staying away from team activities because of a contract dispute. If one of the readers would enlighten me, when was the last time there was a big quarterback holding out over money? Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have always gotten their due. I just can't seem to think of a quarterback as valuable as Drew Brees not getting paid. Regardless, this team needs Brees at practice if they want to beat Atlanta in the division.

So let's talk about Drew Brees. I'm going to bring him down a notch because of the contract holdout and say that he will have 4,800 yards and 38 touchdowns. Those numbers are still huge, and are much closer to his average than last season was. There's really no way that he can have another 5,400 yard season, in my opinion. I think that 4,800 will be very close to leading the league, if not the absolute highest. I still believe that Brees is the second most valuable quarterback in fantasy this season. Tom Brady will be taken ahead of him in most leagues, but they will both be taken ahead of the 10th/11th that I would rank them overall. If you want to draft a QB in the first round, I would look at trading back to get Brees (or staying where you are and taking Brees). I'm not worried about the contract issues until training camp. If it gets to that point, his play will suffer.

The Saints are the ultimate running back by committee team. Darren Sproles is the most valuable of the backs because of his ability to catch the ball. Sproles had 87 carries and 86 receptions last season, and those numbers probably won't change much this season. I would draft Sproles as a flex player, especially in PPR leagues. He definitely isn't an RB1, but he is a better option than any of the other backs on this team. Mark Ingram could be a surprise breakout candidate this season. While the Saints still have Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, each of whom had more yards-per-carry than Ingram last season, I really think that the Saints were committed to giving Ingram the majority of the touches. In his 10 games before getting injured, Ingram got 122 carries, which was more than any of the other running backs recorded throughout the year. Keep that in mind when you get the bottom of the draft and take a shot with Ingram.

Jimmy Graham is my highest rated tight end this season.I know about Gronkowski and Brady, but I also know that Aaron Hernandez will take some looks away from Gronkowski. Graham should end up with 1,200 yards and 10 scores. I would think that Gronkowski gets more total touchdowns, but Graham will significantly outpace him in receiving yards. Graham is probably a great late-second round pick. Marques Colston is one of my favorite receivers in fantasy, but he keeps getting hurt. I think he will be way underdrafted this season and should provide WR1 numbers in the 4th or 5th round. Colston is better than Miles Austin, even though Austin will probably be the higher drafted player. Don't let Colston slip by you. Lance Moore and Nick Toon should be good late-round roster-fillers if you think your receiving class is a little weak. You can't go wrong when you're playing with Drew Brees, and Robert Meachem is no longer around. Someone has to pick up those 40 catches.

Brees is the most valuable player on this team. Colston has the most draft value based on his draft position vs his production. Garrett Hartley should be one of the best kickers in the league if he can stay healthy. It is weird to talk like this, but this kicker just can't stay healthy.


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