Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the 17th part of the series, we head to the NFC South and check out the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. The Saints were 13-3 in 2009 with an offense ranked No.1 among 32 teams. They scored 31.9 ppg while their defense yielded 21.3 ppg (20th).
Drew Brees - It's amazing that the No.1 scoring team in the league only has one fantasy "superstar" on offense. It's Brees' fault too, because he spreads the ball around each week between five or six capable receivers. Brees actually scored less points last year than in 2008 when he cracked the 5,000-yard mark in passing, threw for 300+ yards 10 times, and tossed 34 touchdowns. In 2009, because the Saints were a better running team and their defense was improved, he threw for "just" 4,388 yards and 34 touchdowns. Brees' stellar play should continue for another season. His ADP (Average Draft Position) is the same as last year (he was the first QB selected at No.11), but he's being selected as the second quarterback off the board behind Aaron Rodgers.
Pierre Thomas - The Saints crowded backfield of 2009 is less so in 2010 with Mike Bell heading off to Philadelphia. The move should leave the bulk of the running work to Thomas with Bush getting his 10-12 touches per game...when healthy. Thomas' bigger workload should allow him to improve on last year's totals (1,095 combined yards, eight TDs) and become a solid No.2 fantasy option. Of course, there will be weeks when Brees is throwing the ball all over the place and Thomas will be ignored, but that happens in a Sean Payton led offense.
Reggie Bush - Bush might have been the most overrated fantasy running back of all-time when he first arrived on the scene in 2006. Now that we've seen what he can do and his injury-prone status, he's just overrated. He's never had more than eight TDs in a season and he cracked the 1,000-yard combined mark just once in his career, yet he's still being picked at No.65. There are too many weeks in which he disappears or doesn't suit up at all to make him an integral part of your fantasy roster.
Lynell Hamilton - Barring any late signings, using a late-round pick on Hamilton might yield unexpected results. Bush, as previously stated, is injury prone which could allow Hamilton to get on the field enough to become a viable fantasy option. He's currently got an ADP of around 210.
Marques Colston - Colston is as talented a receiver as there is in the league, but because Brees "shares the wealth" with all his wideouts, doesn't get the fantasy numbers he could in another offense. He had the fewest targets of any 1,000-yard receiver in the league (106). Colston can go deep or he can be a great red-zone receiver. He's just limited by his quarterback's great vision. He's a solid third-round pick (ADP 29) and would make a great second receiver.
Devery Henderson - Henderson finally became the player many expected him to be when he was drafted out of LSU. He caught 51 balls for 804 yards and a couple of scores. That's about the upper limit you can expect from him given all the options that Brees has to throw to on each play. He's got an ADP of 185 and he's not someone you can depend on from week to week.
Robert Meachem - Meachem was a touchdown maker in 2009, scoring nine times in 45 reception. During the final weeks of the fantasy regular season (Week 9 - Week 13) Meachem actually appeared to be a solid No.2 receiver with 346 yards and six touchdowns over a five-week span, but he disappeared in the fantasy playoffs (14-166-1 from Week 14-16). Like Henderson, you simply don't know what you will get from week to week. Because of the offense he plays on, you'll have to overpay if you want him with his ADP of 80.
Lance Moore - Last year was a disaster for Moore who was injured for most of the season (shoulder, ankle, hamstring) and ended up with just 14 receptions for 153 yards and two scores. But he has shown in the past what he can do when he replaced an injured Colston in 2008 and had 928 yards and 10 scores. The question is opportunity and I simply don't think he'll get enough.
Jeremy Shockey - Shockey has the name recognition, but he doesn't have the results to back it up. In his two years at New Orleans, he hasn't reached 600 yards or more than three touchdowns. He also shares the position with David Thomas. There are better fantasy options at tight end.
Garrett Hartley - John Carney kicked for 11 of the 16 games last season while Hartley waited his turn. When he finally got it, he responded with a fantastic playoff performance (5-for-5 on field goals, 12-for-12 on extra points). Couple that with the No.1 offense and you have a top kicker. He's currently the No.2 kicker off the board.
The Saints defense/special teams was No.1 in fantasy points in 2009 (167) on the back of eight defensive scores and one kick return for a touchdown. Whether they can repeat that spectacular performance is questionable which explains why they are being selected just sixth among defenses in 2010. Because the Saints have the No.1 offense they find themselves in a "prevent defense" a lot. That leads to giving up harmless points at the end of some games and hides their superior defense which accumulated 35 sacks and 39 turnovers (13 fumbles, 26 interceptions). Do not ignore this team when looking for your defense. They may not be the Jets or the Vikings, but they will give you solid fantasy production.