Fantasy Stud — Drew Brees, QB
It’s obvious that Drew Brees is the most consistent and most dominant fantasy football piece the New Orleans Saints have to offer. Even with a down year in 2012, Brees still put up his second consecutive 5,100 or more yard season with 43 touchdowns, but an uncharacteristic 19 interceptions.
With Sean Payton back on the sidelines, I think Brees’ numbers will improve considerably. The biggest problem for Brees is the lack of a consistent running game for Saints, but that doesn’t prevent him from putting up big numbers. The Saints are going to air it out, and Brees is consistently one of the safest fantasy quarterbacks you can find. Even though he is older, Brees is still a good athlete and cal also run for a touchdown or two per season. He is a good bet for 40 plus touchdowns and–dare I say it–5,000 yards again this season. The Saints’ offense will be explosive again, and Brees will be rejuvenated having Payton back alongside him.
He threw 670 passes a year ago, which is a career high, so it’s no wonder his INT totals and completion percentage got worse.
Fantasy Risk — Darren Sproles, RB
In 2011, his first season with the Saints, Darren Sproles was one of the most explosive all-purpose threats in the NFL. In fact, he was arguably the best position player overall in my PPR/return yardage league, but nobody saw it coming for some reason.
The reason I view Sproles as a risk is because he ran for just over 600 yards in his first year with the Saints, but his role in the running game significantly diminished in 2012, rushing for just 244 yards on about half the carries he received a year prior. I think Sproles is an underrated weapon in the running game, so the Saints should look to get him 90 touches out of the backfield this year, and I think Sean Payton will do a good job of that.
The fact remains, though, that Sproles declined a bit last season. His receptions, return yardage, and rushing yardage totals all went down last season. Still, Sproles is an explosive playmaker, and if you play in PPR leagues he is worth a pick. In a league like mine that tracks receptions and return yards, Sproles is a borderline first round pick.
Fantasy Sleeper — Lance Moore, WR
It’s hard to pick a sleeper on the Saints’ roster. Moore is a guy who came out last year and had the best season of his career, catching 65 passes for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. The six TD grabs were actually the lowest total Moore has had since he had just two in 2009, but the fact remains that the 29-year old has made steady improvements throughout his career, and he’s in line to be the third primary WR/TE target in the passing game behind Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston.
Based on the volume of passes the Saints throw and the lack of clarity at the WR position, this sleeper could be a number of players including youngsters Joe Morgan, Nick Toon, or even rookie Kenny Stills. However, the fact that he has consistently produced gives Moore the edge and I think he could eclipse 1,000 yards once again this year.
Fantasy Rookie to Watch — Kenny Stills, WR
Kenny Stills was a steal when the Saints got him in the fifth round. He has a chance to emerge even as a rookie as the Saints’ top slot receiver, but when I watched him play at Oklahoma, it was his ability to make plays in the red zone that really stood out to me. Stills plays with a chip on his shoulder, and he will earn playing time as a rookie.
With Lance Moore and Marques Colston approaching their prime, it wouldn’t shock me to see a guy like Stills come out of nowhere and crack the rotation early in his career. I really liked him coming out of college.