Throughout the season, Jake will give you the expert take on New Orleans Saints players from fantasy perspectives, while letting you know which players will help you take home a championship.The Saints will look to get the 2015 season started in grand fashion with a win against the Cardinals.
Starting 1-0 would not only be good in the standings, it would taste even better with a road win against a NFC playoff contender. In addition, the Cardinals went 7-1 at home last year, so expect a nice morale boost for the Saints with a victory. The team is also positioned well to help fantasy owners get an important opening week win in the process.
Drew Brees remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a true elite player. Since joining the Saints, Brees has played 16 games in all but one year (2009) when he played 15 (he was held out of the final game because the team's playoff seeding was set). He's averaged an exceptional 4,854 passing yards and 35 touchdowns per year, and those numbers jumped to 4,978 and 37 over the last seven seasons. Brees remains in the conversation for league's best fantasy quarterbacks. The Cardinals allowed the 11th fewest FPPG to quarterbacks on NFL.com last year, but did have seven games allowing two or more touchdown passes. That included a 479-yard, four-touchdown game from Peyton Manning in Week 5, so they can allow a big outing. Brees is a must-start every week in every league if you own him.
Elsewhere at QB, the Redskins defense allowed the most Fantasy Points Per Game to quarterbacks last year and will be a matchup to exploit this season. Ryan Tannehill faces them in Week 1, and Tannehill finished as a Top 10 quarterback while rushing for 317 yards, further boosting his value. With the Eagles' high-octane offense in full effect again this year, teams will have to keep up, but they will also see more opportunities on offense. That helps Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who is already a QB1 option nearly every week given his potential. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a history of some big games against the Giants. Look for Romo, and even Giants quarterback Eli Manning, to come out slinging on "Sunday Night Football." Nick Foles makes his first start for his new team (Rams) but faces the most difficult defense in the league (Seahawks).
Saints running back Mark Ingram blossomed in 2014, running for 964 yards, nine touchdowns, adding 145 yards receiving and finishing as RB15 on NFL.com. What makes it more impressive is that his totals came in just 13 games. There is talk that the Saints might run the ball more this year, but even if it's the same gameplan as always, Ingram is still worthy of RB1 consideration. Don't fret the matchup either, as Ingram proved he could put up big numbers against tough defenses after rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Carolina last year.
Saints running back C.J. Spiller adds another dimension to the offense, as he is electric out of the backfield and a terrific pass-catcher. Darren Sproles averaged 77 receptions and 660 receiving yards his last three seasons with the Saints, and Spiller can easily replicate those numbers given his talent. He's in the RB2 conversation for PPR leaguers. Saints running back Khiry Robinson is the backup to own for Ingram owners, and Marcus Murphy should be on the radar of PPR league players. Coach Sean Payton talked about Murphy's ability to be "Sproles-like" in this offense.
Cincinnati running back Jeremy Hill was a huge boost to fantasy teams last year as a late round pick. Even though he's a high cost player this season, the reward will still be great, especially in Week 1 against the Raiders. Doug Martin looked rejuvenated and more elusive this preseason, has a great matchup and is ready for a bounce-back season. Jonathan Stewart has the backfield to himself in Carolina and will be asked to contribute plenty for the Panthers. Melvin Gordon has a tough first game as a rookie with the Lions defense on tap, which is strong even without Ndamukong Suh.
Saints receiver Brandin Cooks flashed his talent and potential last year and is primed for a true breakout campaign. Brees has been finding Cooks both short and deep in the preseason, which boosts his upside. The Saints had 11 plays of 40-plus passing yards last year. Look for Cooks to help increase that number while still hauling in plenty of receptions. In fact, Cooks is in the WR1 conversation for PPR leaguers. Marques Colston is still the No. 2 option for the Saints, and remains one of (if not the) top targets for Brees in the red zone. He finished as WR33 on NFL.com with 902 yards and five touchdowns. Do not make the mistake of overlooking Colston because of his age. Brandon Coleman has promise as the team's No. 3 option and is very athletic. It's best to wait a week or two to see how much the Saints work him in the mix before starting him, but he should definitely be on your roster.
Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry is a great PPR option and has WR2 potential in all formats given the matchup with the Redskins. Titans receiver Kendall Wright is primed for a bounce-back with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, as the rookie is great at passing over the middle of the field. Davante Adams is now the No. 2 for the Packers and definitely is starter worthy in a good matchup. Julian Edelman faces a Steelers secondary that can give up points in the opening game. The Broncos secondary is actually quite tough and could create problems for the Ravens. Steve Smith is hard to sit, but he is the only Ravens receiver worth using.
The Saints tight end situation is intriguing to start the season. Josh Hill had amazing touchdown numbers for his brief usage last year. On just 20 targets, Hill had 14 receptions, 176 yards and five touchdowns. Ben Watson is still in the mix, and the Saints have used both in the preseason. It's best to wait for this to play out on the field and see the workload for each before starting one on your fantasy team, but if either starts getting the bulk of the reps, he'll immediately become Fantasy relevant.
Richard Rodgers will take on a bigger role for the Packers this year, and he has the best pure tight end matchup in Week 1. Jordan Cameron has tons of talent and potential, especially with the Dolphins offense looking the best it has in years. The Colts duo is going to be tough to use, as any given week could be one or the other as the top option. In addition, the Bills are extremely tough against tight ends.
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