2012 Team Outlook: New Orleans

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2012 Team Outlook: New Orleans

A fantasy football preview of the Saints this year. Profiled players include Drew Brees, Chase Daniel, Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles.

The New Orleans Saints offense will once again be a powerhouse fantasy unit this season. Despite the loss of coach Sean Payton, Drew Brees and the Saints' skill position players should be able to keep up the high scoring pace of the past few seasons. The Saints' running game will be led by Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram, while Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore, and Devery Henderson will all be key pieces in the high powered passing attack.

Drew Brees should be the second quarterback off fantasy draft boards this season, behind only Aaron Rodgers. The veteran quarterback threw for an NFL record 5476 yards last season, while adding 46 passing touchdowns. While Brees may not reach these numbers again this season, he is a fantasy stud and worthy of a first round pick in fantasy drafts. The former Super Bowl MVP has all the weapons necessary to remain a top three fantasy quarterback for the next few seasons. If you are targeting Drew Brees as your fantasy quarterback this season, be prepared to make him your first round pick.

Chase Daniel will backup Drew Brees for the New Orleans Saints this season. Daniel has no real NFL experience, but if Drew Brees were to get injured, he would be a hot pickup based on his weapons alone. The Saints' skill position players would probably be enough to make Daniel a decent starting quarterback, but with Brees seemingly always healthy, Daniel is not draft worthy (even as a handcuff).

Despite showing some promise during the 2011 season, Chris Ivory is not likely to be a major factor in the Saints backfield in 2012. Ivory is buried on the depth chart behind Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, and Pierre Thomas; unless he is traded to another team, Ivory would have to overcome too much to be worthy of a fantasy draft pick. Fantasy owners should look elsewhere when drafting a backup running back.

Mark Ingram will be in the mix for carries out of the Saints backfield this season. Coming off an injury plagued rookie season, Ingram had another knee surgery this off-season, and needs to be able to stay healthy before he can be a reliable fantasy starter. Another thing working against Ingram is the presence of Darren Sproles. Sproles is the Saints' big play running back. He will touch the ball anywhere between 10-15 times per game, thus further limiting Ingram's upside. Draft Ingram at your own risk this season.

Darren Sproles broke out last season, moving from a third down scat back, to one of the league's top playmaking running backs. The shifty running back totalled more than 1300 total yards and nine touchdowns, making him a top 20 fantasy running back. The Saints will look to get Sproles on the field as much as possible this season, making it likely that he finishes the season with similar numbers to the ones he put up in 2011. Fantasy owners should view Sproles as a good RB2, with even higher potential in point per reception leagues.

Pierre Thomas will be in the mix for carries out of the Saints backfield in 2012. Thomas carried the ball 110 times in 2011, but will struggle to reach that number again this season (unless Mark Ingram is once again hit by the injury bug). Even if Ingram were to get hurt, Darren Sproles will still be in the way of Thomas becoming a major fantasy impact player. Fantasy owners in deep leagues should consider drafting Thomas in the later rounds of their fantasy draft.