*The 2014 Fantasy Football season is entering Week 2, and Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive Fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com all season. Jake will give you the expert deal on Saints players from fantasy perspectives with his in-depth game previews every week. *
The season didn't start as planned for the Saints with a loss to the Falcons, but there were plenty of positives to take away. The Saints will look to get back on track in Week 2 against the Browns, and a win looks likely.
The Browns just allowed 490 yards to the Steelers, 363 passing. As expected, the Saints came out of Week 1 with one of the best offensive outputs, as they totaled 472 yards, 333 coming from the arm of Drew Brees. Against the Falcons, Brees was never sacked, but the Browns were able to sack Ben Roethlisberger four times. The Saints' line should be able to handle the pressure, but Brees won't have the same extended pocket time.
As long as the line plays as well this week, though, Brees will be among the league's best once again. Last year, Brees failed to reach double-digit fantasy points or 250 passing yards just once (Week 13 in Seattle). Against the Falcons, the Saints had 42 passing attempts and 28 rushing, and you can expect a repeat of that game plan. Ben Roethlisberger finished 23-for-34 with 365 yards and a touchdown, and Brees should have no problem replicating that and doing even better with multiple scores.
There were high hopes for Mark Ingram after the preseason, and it was great to see him carry that success into Week 1. Ingram scored twice and looked strong running the ball, finishing with 60 yards on just 13 carries. You can expect Ingram to have a RB3/Flex floor with RB1/2 upside weekly. Pierre Thomas will be used more in the passing game this season, but he did receive seven rushing attempts and managed 31 yards in addition to his six catches for 56 yards.
Back to the offensive line's impact on the game; the Saints produced the third-best run block rating according to Pro Football Focus in Week 1. After watching Le'Veon Bell run for 109 yards and chipping in 88 receiving last week against the Browns, you can count on Ingram as a solid RB2, while Thomas is a RB3/Flex in non-PPR leagues and a RB2 in full PPR.
What can you say about Brandin Cooks? The man is as good as advertised, and possibly even better. Brees looked his way early and often, and even though the Falcons' defense started keying in on Cooks in the second half, he was still able to post a great fantasy line of seven catches, 77 yards and a touchdown. He even rushed once for 18 yards. Cooks gives the Saints a nice hybrid receiver and their version of Percy Harvin in one player. Even with the return of Kenny Stills expected soon, Cooks has cemented himself as a big part of the offense.
Don't let Cooks' success make you overlook Marques Colston's Week 1 performance. Colston was as healthy as he claimed, and he chewed up the Falcons for 110 yards on five catches. The Browns are better than their Week 1 performance would suggest on defense, but as it stands, they came out of the game ranked 29th in pass coverage effectiveness. Colston and Cooks are locked in as WR2s with potential for WR1 value.
All you need to say about Jimmy Graham is that his Week 1 Fantasy line was a bit surprising since he didn't find the end zone. But with a quality 82 yards and eight catches leaving owners wanting even more, you see the high bar that Graham has set for himself.
Defensively, this begins a great run of games for the Saints. With one of the best, if not top, safety duos in the league, the Saints should be able to contain the Browns passing game. The Saints pressured Matt Ryan a decent amount with three quarterback hits, two deflections and a sack, and they should see better numbers against the Browns, as the Steelers were able to get to Brian Hoyer for five hits, five deflections, eight tackles for a loss and three sacks. Grab the Saints DST if they are available in your league and enjoy them from now through Week 7.
For those needing a quarterback this week, or for those streaming them, Jake Locker is a great play against a Cowboys team that rates as the most favorable matchup passing wise. Locker put up 266 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers against a tougher defense in Kansas City last week.
Owners had their faith rewarded, when Gio Bernard saw a significantly higher share of touches than rookie Jeremy Hill did. Even with talk of Hill getting a higher share this week, Bernard is locked in as a RB1 against the Falcons. Andre Ellington is going to play through his ankle woes, and reports are that the injury can't worsen just by playing, so treat him as a high-risk/high-reward RB2 again this week. The situation in Baltimore is one to monitor. John Harbaugh said Bernard Pierce remains a big part of the offense. It's hard to imagine he won't have another shot after one fumble, but Justin Forsett looked good and has a history with Gary Kubiak. Let this week play out to see which running back emerges before plugging one into your lineup.
You can use Michael Crabtree with confidence this week. The 49ers were up early against the Cowboys, and they simply didn't need to risk Crabtree much given the situation. As with Locker, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter are primed for big weeks. Keenan Allen only saw Patrick Peterson for portions of the Chargers Week 1 game, yet he didn't reach WR1 status, as Philip Rivers looked Malcom Floyd's way plenty. With the Chargers facing the Seahawks this week, Allen has another challenging matchup, but it's hard to sit a WR of his status.
Even on a short week, Dennis Pitta is a clear TE1 as he remains one of Joe Flacco's must trusted and favorite targets. Travis Kelce is still sharing time with Anthony Fasano but has solid upside, as the Chiefs will need to pass plenty to keep up with the Broncos. A nice sleeper for Week 2 is the Giants' tight end, Larry Donnell. Eli Manning targeted Donnell more than anyone, and the Cardinals allowed the most points to tight ends last year and just gave up 105 yards to the Chargers, when Antonio Gates was less than 100 percent.