Official team photos of fans from the New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons game on Sunday, December 21, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert and Matthew Sharpe (New Orleans Saints photos)
It's the last week of the 2014 regular season, so Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com is here to give you the fantasy rundown for Week 17, provide a look back at the year and add some notes for 2015 here at NewOrleansSaints.com.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees finishes the Fantasy Football regular season (we're not including Week 17 for these talks, as most leagues use 16 weeks) No. 5 for quarterbacks on NFL.com. Brees has 293.84 Fantasy Points (FP), 10 games of two-plus touchdowns and was only 0.69 FPPG behind Peyton Manning. Nothing has changed when it comes to Brees and elite production. He's a guaranteed Top Five quarterback, is worth holding as your second or third keeper and drafting him alongside Peyton Manning around Rounds 2-3 is warranted.
Saints running back Mark Ingram is an Unrestricted Free Agent, but if he's back in New Orleans, that would be great for the Saints and fantasy owners. Ingram was the 14th best running back, even while missing three games and sharing more of the workload early in the season. Only Seattle's Marshawn Lynch had more Fantasy Points than Ingram from Weeks 8-10. Ingram had at least 97 yards or a touchdown in nine of his 12 games and is a locked-in RB2 for next year. Given the turnover and shared backfields with running backs, Ingram is more than worth your second keeper selection and would be a Round 2-3 pick in 2015. As with Ingram, Pierre Thomas showed the value he has even with missed time. Thomas still finished as the 32nd RB overall in just 11 games for PPR scoring. Whether Ingram is back doesn't change the fact that Thomas is a great third running back option for 2015. Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet are both good dynasty stashes.
The future looks bright for the Saints at the wide receiver position. Three receivers, Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills finished in the Top 40 in FPPG both in standard and PPR leagues. Cooks led the way in both with a 24th-place FPPG ranking and will create nightmares for defenses with Colston and Stills on the field. Cooks is a surefire WR3 in standard and WR2 in PPR leagues for 2015. He has excellent value as a third or fourth keeper. Stills and Colston look to have a friendly battle set for 2015. No matter who is the No. 2 receiver "by name," both will have WR3 value given their ability and the Saints offensive production. Nick Toon has dynasty value, as if he is ever given a promotion to WR3, his value would jump.
Jimmy Graham is once again at the top of the ladder for tight ends. Graham finished third on NFL.com in standard scoring, only 7.9 points behind Antonio Gates with one less game played. Graham jumps to second in PPR formats and had the second most touchdowns for tight ends (10) with Gronk, Gates and Julius Thomas tied for first with 12. The elite tight ends options are Gronk and Graham and that's it. Graham will be a second round pick in 2015 and is therefore worth being your No. 1 or 2 keeper.
As always, everyone mentioned with the Saints - sans Cooks - is worthy of using in Week 17 if you're still playing. Nick Toon and Josh Hill have deep league value if you're shooting for a touchdown-hope play.
Also for those still playing, Tony Romo faces the most forgiving defense against quarterbacks: the Redskins. The Cowboys can still grab a bye, so they have something to play for, and Romo has been a solid QB1 this year. Ryan Tannehill took a big step forward this season. Not only does he face a Jets defense giving up 18.42 FPPG to quarterbacks this week, but he's also firmly in the conversation as a QB1 for 2015, a third or fourth keeper option and a great dynasty piece. Cam Newton had a nice 22.34 FP outing last week and now faces the Falcons for the division. Newton's keeper and/or dynasty price may have dropped in some leagues, so throw out offers if you don't have him; he's still a top half QB1.
No running back has more rushing yards than Jonathan Stewart over the last four weeks. JStew has 435 at a 5.6 per carry average with Arian Foster second at 401/4.3. Stewart now faces the weakest run defense in the league (Falcons) and is an intriguing third or fourth keeper if he has the backfield to himself next year. After being the starter for just seven games, C.J. Anderson was the 15th best running back with 1,066 yards (762 rushing) and seven touchdowns. Anderson faces a weak Raiders defense in Week 17 and is a first or second keeper option since he's a RB1 for 2015 if the Denver backfield remains his alone.
The Texans ended up with the most FPPG allowed to receivers, which gives Marqise Lee, Cecil Shorts and Allen Hurns upside this week. I still like Allen Robinson as the best dynasty option in Jacksonville, but this core is worth watching in the offseason, as the three top options could all have WR3 or better value in 2015. I don't need to tell you anything about Odell Beckham Jr. at this point, yet owners have a tasty Eagles matchup to look forward to in Week 17. Keeper wise, ODB is a first option for any owner and dynasty owners have hit the jackpot. Owners who waited on Josh Gordon have a nice matchup to finish the year. With a full offseason of practice, development time with (likely) Johnny Manziel and a offense tailored to them, Gordon is still worth being a No. 2 keeper.
Kyle Rudolph draws the best tight end matchup for Week 17 with the Bears allowing 11.07 FPPG on NFL.com. With a full season and more time under Norv Turner, drafters will want to tuck Rudy's name away as a nice TE1 value for 2015. The Cowboys allow the sixth most FPPG to tight ends. Jordan Reed's numbers are much higher with other quarterbacks versus Robert Griffin, making Reed another name to monitor depending on how the Redskins move forward with that situation. Zach Ertz exploded last week, has a decent matchup with the Giants and could be a TE1 in 2015, as he continues to grow in Chip Kelly's offense.
The Texans DST draws the Jaguars at home, and they still have an outside shot at the playoffs. With the Jags allowing the most (12.80) FPPG to opposing DST units, the Texans are one of the best plays. The Seahawks host the Rams for a bye berth, and the Rams allow DSTs to put up 11.00 FPPG. The Seahawks DST has been terrific in the second half, but remember, they're still just 12th on the season and proof that there is too much change with teams to warrant spending an early round pick on a DST next year.