Second gallery of photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Houston Texans. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)
The 2015 Fantasy Football season is here, and Jake Ciely (@allinkid) of *RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive expert Fantasy coverage for neworleanssaints.com. Throughout the season, Jake will give you the expert deal on Saints players from fantasy perspectives, while letting you know which players will help you take home a championship.*
The Saints will look to return to the playoffs this year after an offseason that saw several significant changes. The Saints led the NFL in total yards last year with 6,582, including the third-most passing yards. What may surprise some outside of New Orleans is that the Saints were very successful running the ball, too, with the 13th most rushing yards. The offense has been highlighted by the passing game for a long time, so it was great to see that level of success on the ground. Overall, the Saints averaged the ninth-most points per game (25.1). Heading into 2015, they will look to continue their run of offensive dominance and regain their seat atop the NFC South.
For fantasy owners, the season can't come soon enough, as with the delayed start, we're begging for Week 1 to get here. We just saw the "dress rehearsals" for most teams in Week 3 of the preseason, and with a good idea of depth charts and gameplans, we can head into fantasy drafts well-prepared and confident. Of course, reading this breakdown before your draft will help provide that extra edge.
For the Saints, it all starts with Drew Brees, as it has for years. Brees tied for the league lead in passing yards with 4,952 last year. He also threw for 33 or more touchdowns for the seventh straight season, while finishing as the sixth-best quarterback in fantasy (302.98 points on NFL.com). Brees has finished within the Top 6 quarterbacks every season he's been with the Saints, and 2015 will be no different.
Through Week 3 of the preseason, the Saints lead in passing yards per game at 297.0, 18 more than the second-place Eagles. That's even with the talk of the Saints running more this year. Overall, the Saints are second in total yards per game at 395.3, but you can expect that number to get a bump once the regular season is here and the starters are playing full time. Basically, the Saints and Brees will be as good as ever throwing the ball.
The best part about Brees is that he comes at his cheapest cost in years. His ADP on NFL.com is 39th overall and as the fifth quarterback off the board. You always had to pay a Round 2 price to nab Brees, and now you can get him early in the fourth. Enjoy! As good as Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning are and will be, I'd much rather wait the extra round or two and take Brees as my quarterback.
If you wait on quarterback, you can find great value this year. Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill and Ben Roethlisberger occupy the 56-58th ADP spots. They are the 8-10th quarterbacks off the board and all have Top 5 potential. Digging deeper, Philip Rivers was the 12th best quarterback last year but just 13 points from eighth place. He provides nice value as the 13th quarterback selected and with an ADP of 84. Sam Bradford is your golden ticket of late-round quarterbacks with an ADP of 156, as QB22. If he plays all 16 games, he has Top 5 quarterback potential in Chip Kelly's offense.
We knew Mark Ingram had the talent, and it was thrilling to see him put it altogether on the field last year. Ingram finished as RB15 with 964 yards, nine touchdowns and chipped in another 145 yards receiving. Oh, that came in just 13 games. Project that out to 16 games, and you get 1,186 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns and 178 receiving yards… or… neck-and-neck with Justin Forsett for the eighth best running back. Can you say upside? That's before we factor in the Saints running a bit more this season. Ingram will be the lead option once again and brings legitimate RB1 and Top 10 running back potential.
Of course, we have to talk about the addition of C.J. Spiller. He's never lacked in terms of production, and makes the Saints offense more dynamic while conjuring up the days of Darren Sproles in the Big Easy. All you need to do is look at Spiller's 2012 season to see his potential, as he was the seventh-best running back (standard scoring) with just 250 total touches. In 2011, Sproles had 603 rushing yards, 710 receiving and nine touchdowns for the Saints, and while Spiller will likely lean more to the receiving yards, the upside is still there. Consider Spiller a great RB3 with RB2 upside in standard leagues and a locked in RB2 in PPR, which is exciting given his ADP of 94 (31st running back). Keep Khiry Robinson on your radar as well. Robinson has shown that he can be a capable option if called upon to lead the backfield.
Another running back to target that deserves more respect is Chris Ivory. Currently the 28th running back in NFL.com ADP, Ivory finished 19th in standard scoring despite just 198 carries. He will see more lead work, and the Jets love to run. Doug Martin looks rejuvenated (he also lost weight) and is a great value at RB38. Rookie David Cobb could take over in Tennessee this year and is a nice stash as the 58th running back off the board – basically, free in NFL.com leagues. Don't forget about the value of Shane Vereen in PPR leagues and definitely grab rookie David Johnson in that format too. Even if he splits time with Andre Ellington all year, he'll have PPR value.
Marques Colston finished as WR33 last year, which is right in WR3 territory. That also came in just 15 games, so Colston still has plenty to offer fantasy owners. Brees will need Colston plenty in 2015, especially in the red zone. Look for Colston to improve on his back-to-back five touchdown campaigns and be at least a WR3 again.
Brandin Cooks looks terrific this preseason and has Saints fans and all fantasy owners drooling. The chemistry is still there between Cooks and Brees, and it's not just in the short game, as Cooks already has a few targets and catches over 20 yards. Cooks will see a truckload of targets and is a real threat to top 100 receptions. Even as the 14th receiver off the board, Cooks still has the potential to return more value, especially in PPR leagues. We could easily see Cooks become a WR1.
After Colston and Cooks, the Saints have Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones as options. Coleman is athletically gifted and could surprise fantasy owners now that he's the team's No. 3 option. We know the third receiving weapon for the Saints always has fantasy worth, since Brees is terrific at providing value for multiple receivers.
Keenan Allen presents nice value at his ADP (70) as a great bounce-back candidate for the Chargers. As with the Saints, several players in the Eagles' offense are enticing thanks to the system. For that reason alone, you should pay attention to Nelson Agholor (116 overall, WR37). Allen Robinson's ADP on NFL.com is way too low at WR42. Like Cooks, he showed early promise and chemistry with his quarterback. He has WR2 potential in his sophomore campaign. Some other receivers that changed teams present great values at their ADPs: Brandon Marshall (overall 85, WR29), Eddie Royal (WR69) and Dwayne Bowe (WR73).
Even if they split time all year, Ben Watson and Josh Hill will be nice deeper tight end options based on touchdown potential alone. If either one becomes the main option and sees the majority of tight end targets, he would have TE1 potential, so monitor the early-season usage of both.
Delanie Walker was terrific last year, finishing as TE9 in standard and TE8 in PPR. He's currently the 12th tight end off the board, and with a rookie quarterback, Walker presents upside for TE1 status again. Jordan Cameron is going to be a steal as TE13 (124th overall) thanks to Ryan Tannehill's development and that Dolphins offense. Don't forget about Owen Daniels. Just look at what Peyton Manning did for Julius Thomas in his time with the Broncos. Manning always provides plenty of scoring chances for his tight ends.
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