2014 Team Outlook: New Orleans Saints
QB Drew Brees, NO - Stud (low risk)
Drew Brees finished as a top two fantasy quarterback in five out of the last six seasons. He has never finished lower than third in fantasy points since he joined the Saints in 2006. He is an elite QB and unquestionably durable and consistent. Sure, he is 35 years old, but he has not missed a game due to injury since he joined the Saints. Brees has passed for more than 5,000 yards in four out of the last six seasons and averaged 42 touchdowns in the past three years. The Saints are not devoid of any playmakers at any positions. The key for New Orleans will be their offensive line. Brees was sacked 37 times last season, but the team is focused on improving their offensive line in the offseason. Many will draft Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers ahead of Drew Brees in 2014. If you are looking for potential value and one of the best bets as a fantasy player, don't look any further than Brees.
Editor's note: To Stud QB or Not Stud QB. That is the question. There's a good chance if you wait on QB, you'll sacrifice 100 points with the gamble. You'll miss on value at another position if you take Brees -- such as passing on WR Andre Johnson as your WR2 and instead grabbing a Cordarrelle Patterson. Smaller roster requirements (8 or 9 starting positions) should go with the better QB, while deeper starting lineup requirements (10-11) should take the skill position player and grab QB later.
QB Luke McCown, --- - Not Draft Worthy
Luke McCown is slated as Drew Brees' backup. Brees is as durable as it gets and McCown doesn't have any value in a redraft league (barring some unforeseen injury). Also, there is no value here in a dynasty or draft masters format either.
RB Mark Ingram, NO - Gamble (high risk)
Mark Ingram is a former first rounder that has been riddled with injuries, evidence by his 11 missed games over his first three seasons. His play has been disappointing to say the least. The Saints have not extended his contract, so this is a make-or-break year. In 2013, Ingram had only seven receptions and a bulk of his rushing yardage came against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. He was held to under 10 carries in all but two games last season. With the emergence of Khiry Robinson (and Pierre Thomas' role being already defined), Ingram is a risky player to draft even as a flex. The backfield appears to be a full RBBC, but it is unlikely to see Ingram carving out a significant role due to his injury history and lack of receiving skills.
RB Travaris Cadet, NO - Deep-league Only
Travaris Cadet is locked into the RBBC in the backfield. With the departure of Darren Sproles, Cadet will see more opportunities as a pass-catching back. His value lies as a handcuff to Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson. I would not draft Cadet in a 20-round redraft league, but I would draft him in a draft masters format if I had already taken Thomas or Robinson for my team. He is a late round flier and could emerge as a deep sleeper with an injury to Thomas or Robinson. He is fourth on the depth chart, so draft accordingly.
RB Khiry Robinson, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
Robinson went undrafted last year, but an impressive workout landed him a roster spot in New Orleans. Former head coach Bill Parcells believes Robinson's running style is comparable to the former great RB Curtis Martin. If that comparison is only half true, the Saints have a diamond in the rough. Robinson possesses a power running style and he made the most of his opportunities last season. He did not fumble the ball in 75 carries and he averaged a solid 4.3 yards per carry. Many believe the Saints will attempt a more balanced offensive approach this season. Although their offenses implements a RBBC approach, Robinson is intriguing because he only has to beat out the underachieving Mark Ingram for carries. Consider Robinson a high end flex option and draft him well ahead of Mark Ingram.
RB Pierre Thomas, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
Pierre Thomas is one of the most underrated and underappreciated fantasy players. It is amazing how his stock drops on draft day in PPR leagues. He posted 77 receptions and had a combined 1,062 yards in 2013. His efforts earned him an overall ranking of RB16 in PPR. Although he only had five touchdowns, he is a PPR stud. With the departure of Darren Sproles (and his 71 receptions and 84 targets), many believe Thomas is the real winner here and he will continue to thrive. Thomas only dropped three balls and he is as efficient as they come at the position. He is not the biggest or the fastest RB, but he is a great receiver and his value remains very strong in all formats.
Editor's note: Thomas finished as RB17 last year and with the departure of Sproles, he's being drafted at RB23. Bargain time. Value play here, people.