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J.W. Gordon | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

2017 Player Outlooks: New Orleans Saints


Drew Brees

Mr. Consistency: Drew Brees has thrown at least 30 touchdowns and 4000 yards the last nine seasons.

QB Drew Brees
(2016 QB Rank Ė No.2, 26.4 FPts/G)

The Saints offense is led by one of the gameís best quarterbacks. Anyone thinking an old quarterback canít get it done obviously missed out last season on a guy who led the league in passing yards in route to the fourth best fantasy season of his Hall of Fame career. With Brees leading the way, the Saints produced two top ten fantasy wide outs in 2016. Thatís not as likely with Willie Snead and Ted Ginn, Jr. serving as secondary options opposite Michael Thomas. New Orleans was faced with tough cap decisions and ultimately decided to trade from strength dealing Brandin Cooks to help offset the burden in other areas.

Last year, the Saints passed the ball 674 times compared to 404 rushing attempts. Itís hard to fathom Sean Peyton asking his 38-year-old quarterback to toss more than 650 passes this season when you have two quality running backs in the backfield but that wonít prevent Brees from being one of the better fantasy signal callers to own. However, It may be just enough to knock him out of the top three so donít overpay based on last yearís totals. As long as Brees is upright, the rest of the Saintsí fantasy players will be attractive fantasy assets for the upcoming 2017 campaign. Chase Daniel, Garrett Grayson and Ryan Nassib will compete for clipboard duties behind Brees. Daniel started his career in the Bayou and looks like the best fit as the teamís primary backup but the team wonít be nearly as explosive if he is called into action.

RB Mark Ingram
(2016 RB Rank Ė No.16, 12.3 FPts/G)

Mark Ingram finally stayed healthy for a full season and fantasy owners were treated to over 1300 total yards and ten touchdowns on 251 touches (46 were receptions). Most teams would be gearing up for another year riding their big back and his 5.1 YPC but the Saints decided to add Adrian Peterson. Fantasy owners shouldnít be deterred from selecting Ingram, as Petersonís addition also provided a solution for the teamís depth as well as insurance for their lead running back. For his part, Ingram has welcomed the opportunity to battle for the starting job and quite frankly offers more stability to the offense. Tim Hightower proved last year, that Ingram needs a breather to get through the year but in doing so he had the best fantasy season of his career by nearly 40 fantasy points. Now that everyone knows what Ingram is capable of, what do we make of his situation in 2017? The offense figures to once again provide plenty of scoring but consistency hurts Ingramís overall fantasy impact. He scored more than 14 fantasy points in seven games while scoring fewer than nine points in eight games. Although the numbers represent a frontline fantasy running back, the presence of Peterson and lack of consistency drops Ingram into RB2 territory.

RB Adrian Peterson
(2016 RB Rank No.101 Ė 2.7 FPts/G)

Adrian Peterson has made a living out of proving people wrong his entire career. So itís not out of the ordinary that he will be picking up right where he left off entering 2017. Injury and off-field issues have devolved Peterson from being a consensus top fantasy player to a total crapshoot. He is slated to be Mark Ingramís backup so fantasy owners shouldnít expect more than 150 touches. Can a part-time Peterson be useful to fantasy owners? Absolutely. In shallow leagues, Peterson is a quality handcuff to those investing in Ingram. In twelve team and deeper leagues he is on the fringes of being worth the risk of a roster spot due to opportunity, not talent. Two years ago the former Viking produced a 4.5 YPC and over 1,700 total yards. He has plenty of motivation to succeed and a team that loves to put the ball in the hands of its playmakers. The downside is that unless the team departs from their pass happy ways, Peterson is not a lock to see double-digit touches with Ingram atop the depth chart or enough goal line carries to become a dependable touchdown vulture. New Orleans will undoubtedly give Peterson every attempt to add a few receptions to his stat line but that only adds to his upside not his projections. If you can stomach the risk, Peterson is only a few opportunities away from being a quality fantasy asset.

RB Travaris Cadet
(2016 RB Rank Ė No.78, 4.2 FPts/G)

The Saints and fantasy owners alike have realized there are not many Darren Sproles in this world. Sean Peyton has a unique role in his offense for a pass-catching scat back so Cadet was brought back on a one-year deal after testing free agency. He will get just enough receptions for deep PPR leaguers to take notice but falls short as a risky one-dimensional fantasy player. The team cast another net into the waters drafting Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee in the third round of this yearís draft. The rookie is equipped with a similar skill set as Cadet so the writing is on the wall. Between the addition of Adrian Peterson and Kamara, itís no surprise the team has been shopping Cadet. Regardless of which player is sitting third on the depth chart, there wonít be many snaps available to make a fantasy impact in 2017.

WR Michael Thomas
(2016 WR Rank Ė No.8, 11.2 FPts/G)

Michael Thomas didnít disappoint as a rookie in 2016. He set the bar awfully high finishing the year as a top ten fantasy performer and helping more than a few fantasy teams win championships. Thomas is in an ideal situation catching balls from an accurate passer where he can use his big mitts in every facet of the passing attack making him a true all around threat wherever he lines up on the field. Heís almost a lock to improve upon his 120 targets from a year ago which gives him a realistic shot to go over the century mark in receptions. When the Saints donít run the ball in the red zone, Thomas should be a frequent target giving him upside to reach double digit TDs. He will garner more attention from opposing defense this season so there is a chance he experiences some struggles with double teams early on. For this reason, Thomas remains a tick below the positionís elite but offers the type of floor that makes him ideal building block for your fantasy squad in 2017.

WR Willie Snead
(2016 WR Rank Ė No.45, 7.6 FPts/G)

Willie Snead wasnít heralded when he came into the league as a rookie in 2015 but heís received at least 100 targets in each of his first two seasons as a pro. He will be one of several players tasked with replacing the production of the departed Brandin Cooks and that should encourage fantasy owners to bump him up their cheatsheet a few notches. A mere ten percent increase in production would make him a valuable WR3 most weeks on his way to his first 1,000 yard season. His 69 percent catch rate makes him more even more attractive in PPR formats. Where the floor appears to be his biggest asset, his ceiling isnít nearly as high. There are plenty options near the goal in New Orleans so his lack of touchdowns will prevent him from cracking the top 25 receivers despite playing in a fantasy friendly offense.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
(2016 WR Rank Ė No.54, 6.8 FPts/G)

In most cases, having a part of a high-scoring offense is always encouraged, but the Saints have evolved into a ďsum of the partsĒ unit over the years. This is part of the reason why they were able to let Brandin Cooks depart in a trade and why fantasy owners need to acknowledge the possibility of a low ceiling for Ginn. Heís a looks like a solid addition but that doesnít mean he will be a reliable fantasy contributor. Itís fair to assume that after playing with lesser talented quarterbacks that Ginnís catch rate - typically around 50 percent - is likely to improve. The stark contrast between the Panthersí dull passing game and the Saintsí systematic aerial assault are certainly alluring but there are too many red flags to overlook. The former Buckeye has never posted a season with 800 receiving yards or even 60 receptions. Outside of his fluky 2015 campaign that saw him reach double-digit touchdowns heís never been a consistent threat to score. Based on the reports out of minicamp Ginn hasnít lost a step at age 32 but he is an older receiver that has missed time in two of the past three seasons. Brandon Coleman is also lingering and plenty capable of contributing a big play down the field. Ginn figures to be too inconsistent to be anything but a one-week replacement player unless a long term injury to Snead or Thomas opens the door for more playing time.

TE Coby Fleener
(2016 TE Rank – No.24, 5.5 FPts/G)

A much hyped off-season addition last year, Fleener had many fantasy GMs thinking he was finally ready to emerge as a legit stud TE. He saw at least five targets in four of the team’s first five contests. Unfortunately, there were too many miscues throughout the season and he accumulated at least five targets in only four of the remaining eleven games last year. He finished the season in the middle of the pack at the position and while there is still hope of a slight rebound in 2017, fantasy owners shouldn’t expect him to be anything but an ordinary TE2. Josh Hill is expected to push Fleener this season however he will first need to get back on the field after suffering a broken leg last year. Hill is on schedule to return for training camp in what should be one of the better battles for fantasy owners to monitor this summer.