Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is a fantasy scoring machine. Since 2006 he's thrown for an average of 4,796 yards and 35 touchdowns per season.
Think about that for a second.
There have only been 13 single-season performances in the entire history of the NFL above Brees' average passing yards over the past seven years. Only six times has a quarterback passed for 5,000 or more yards and Brees owns three of those, including the current record of 5,476 yards set in 2011.
Yet it's possible, even probable, that the return of New Orleans head coach and play caller Sean Payton may cost Brees and his fantasy owners some of his production.
Brees has thrown more than 600 passes in five of the past six seasons. But the one season in which he threw just 514 passes (in 15 games), the Saints went to, and won, the Super Bowl.
During that season the team led the league in scoring (31.9 ppg) and in points differential (10.6 ppg). They threw the ball 544 times and rushed 468 times for 2,106 yards and 21 touchdowns. The 53.7-to-46.3 percent pass-to-run ratio was the most balanced during the "Payton Era."
Payton's not stupid. He had plenty of time last season, while suspended from coaching, to evaluate his team's successes and failures.
"You get one-dimensional, you find yourself in these games where you're not controlling the game," Payton told Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times- Picayune. "That's the first thing that I saw."
In fact, it was just a few weeks ago that Payton told the team, "There's going to be more focus this year on that ground game than any year," according to running back Pierre Thomas who will share the backfield with Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles. "He said we've got to get back to running the ball, having 100-yard games nonstop."
Those may be the words that Saints fans want to hear since it leads to winning, but not Brees fantasy owners.
Don't panic though, Brees isn't going to drop off the face of the earth. Like we said, Payton is a smart guy and he knows what he has in Brees. Just temper your expectations this season. We're looking for about 4,600 yards and 36 touchdowns from Brees in 2013-14.