This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
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New Orleans Saints 2014 Fantasy Football Projections
With head coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines in 2013, the New Orleans Saints finally looked like themselves again. Of course, their usual positive impact didn’t really go away without Payton (due to suspension) in 2012, but fantasy owners were pretty confident they could trust Saints’ fantasy options heading into 2013.
They were right, but only to a point. The normally PPR friendly Darren Sproles seemed to regress, Marques Colston started looking older and no one else in New Orleans’ backfield was all that reliable.
The scenery has changed as we prepare for the 2014 fantasy football season. Mark Ingram is entering a contract season after his 2015 option was denied, Darren Sproles was traded and Lance Moore was let go.
With things changing a bit, fantasy owners will naturally be wondering what to expect out of the Saints this year. To get a better idea of that, let’s break each key offensive player down and project their fantasy impact:
Drew Brees (Quarterback)
Is anyone as consistently dominant as Drew Brees? It doesn’t really appear so, as Brees has put up countless 4,000+ yard seasons and a ridiculous four total 5,000+ yard seasons. He’s even been a touchdown maven with 39 or more passing scores the past three years.
The times, they are a changing, though. Sean Payton has hinted towards a more balanced offense as his offensive stars get older. Brees can still sling it, to be sure, but he’s 35 now and the Saints have not been overly effective on the road or in the cold with their high-flying approach. There will certainly be some duels where Brees is asked to chuck it up, but overall it’s not crazy to expect things to be scaled back considerably.
That doesn’t mean Brees will suddenly drop out of the elite quarterback talk, but it probably means a 5,000+ yard and 40+ touchdown season is now a thing of the past.
Projection: 4,555 passing yards, 34 TD, 13 INT, 65 rushing yards, 2 TD
Mark Ingram (Running Back)
It’s pretty safe to say by now that Ingram is a bust, and with the Saints declining to pick up his option for the 2015 season, the writing is on the wall that he’s as good as gone. The Saints might give him 2014 to earn himself back into their good graces, though, which could actually offer up his best production to date. Fantasy owners just can’t bank on it actually happening.
Projection: 455 rushing yards, 4 TD, 8 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 0 TD
Khiry Robinson (Running Back)
With the Saints focusing on ball control offense more than in the past, the effective Khiry Robinson is a lock for a bigger role in 2014. It might be even bigger than we expect, too, considering Ingram is never healthy and is inconsistent even when on the field. We need to curb the expectations, though, as he’s still somewhat unproven and has clear competition in the backfield at the moment.
Projection: 755 rushing yards, 5 TD, 10 receptions, 95 receiving yards, 1 TD
Pierre Thomas (Running Back)
Pierre Thomas was looking like a cut candidate for a while and if the Saints draft a new replacement for Darren Sproles, he still might be. However, he’s an effective short yardage runner and is quite versatile, so it’s still possible he’s the replacement. With Sproles out of the picture, it’s entirely possible Thomas puts up even better numbers than he did a year ago. Just track him during the summer to make sure you know what his role and value will be.
Projection: 455 rushing yards, 4 TD, 65 receptions, 455 receiving yards, 2 TD
Marques Colston (Wide Receiver)
Colston still has the size, hands and route-running knowledge to move the chains, but he was never really an explosive player and he certainly isn’t now. He’s still the Saints’ top receiver, but Jimmy Graham is their true number one receiver. Colston remains a threat for 1,000 receiving yards and 8-10 touchdowns, but is slowly dipping from WR2 status.
Projection: 80 receptions, 1,1005 receiving yards, 8 TD
Kenny Stills (Wide Receiver)
Kenny Stills lacks great size but was a huge play-maker down the field as a rookie in 2013 thanks to his speed and quickness. As he improves fundamentally, he’ll only get more involved, while he figures to line up in the slot now that Lance Moore is a Steeler. That should give him something close to WR3 value going into 2014. If he locks down Moore’s old role, there is some interesting upside here.
Projection: 65 receptions, 955 receiving yards, 6 TD
Joe Morgan (Wide Receiver)
Joe Morgan is a speedy down field threat that would have been a bit of a sleeper last year had he not shredded his knee. He’ll be a slight sleeper again this year, but keep in mind that he’s coming off of a serious knee injury and is playing in a system that spreads the ball out quite a bit.
Projection: 20 receptions, 350 receiving yards, 3 TD
Robert Meachem (Wide Receiver)
Robert Meachem is past his prime and is nothing more than a situational deep threat at this point in his career. The numbers he put up in 2013 are about what we can expect out of him in 2014. Of course, his stock could rise in-season if someone else goes down with an injury.
Projection: 15 receptions, 300 receiving yards, 2 TD
Jimmy Graham (Tight End)
What can be said about Graham that already hasn’t been said? He’s an athletic freak with amazing size and ball skills and even when he wasn’t healthy last year he still dominated in the red-zone. His contract situation is one to monitor, but otherwise he’s the best tight end in fantasy football and is worthy of being picked in the first three rounds of all drafts.
Projection: 90 receptions, 1,155 receiving yards, 13 TD