Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates with teammate outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (not pictured) during the first half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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 NFL Fantasy Football Projections, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
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2014 Fantasy Football: Breaking Down The Saints Top 5 IDP Options
The New Orleans Saints throw a yearly party in fantasy football. The beautiful part is everyone is invited. Regardless of your draft slot in fantasy drafts, you always get a crack at one Saints fantasy option or another, whether it’s Drew Brees or Jimmy Graham early, or someone like Darren Sproles or Lance Moore late.
The latter two are gone now, but you get the idea. That’s how it is with the high-flying Saints on the offensive side of the football, at least. In fact, it’s pretty much been that way ever since Brees teamed up with head coach Sean Payton and it’s probably going to stay that way until Brees retires.
But what about the defensive side of the ball? As crazy as it sounds, the Saints started getting closer to the level of play the offense produces last year, and in 2014 it’s not insane to think they just might finally match it.
It’s no guarantee, but entering the new fantasy football season, Saints IDP (Individual Defensive Player) options are carrying some hefty draft stock. To figure out which ones you might actually want to draft, let’s break down the Saints’ top five IDP options:
5. Junior Galette (Outside Linebacker)
Junior Galette had a breakout season with the Saints shifting to a 3-4 scheme a year ago, as he registered an impressive 12 sacks and also chipped in 40 tackles. There has been talk about scaling back Galette’s time on the field, however, due to stamina concerns. That’s not a slight on his play, though, as he’s a pure edge rusher who has proven he can get to the opposing quarterback on a regular basis. He doesn’t do much elsewhere, so for fantasy purposes he only has moderate value in IDP leagues unless they put a crazy emphasis on sacks.
4. Curtis Lofton (Inside Linebacker)
Curtis Lofton got even better in his second season with the Saints, and was one of the leaders of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme in 2013. Lofton was a natural working on the inside of the 3-4 system, racking up 125 tackles and two sacks while playing on over 95% of the snaps. Lofton probably won’t see a major spike in tackles, but he’s a moderate inside linebacker presence that should still be rostered in fantasy leagues. He’s probably just outside the top-20 options, but is without a doubt one of the top-five IDP options in New Orleans.
3. Cameron Jordan (Defensive End)
It’s not often that a 3-4 defensive lineman is picked early in IDP drafts, but Jordan should be one of those guys. A poor man’s J.J. Watt, Jordan has proven without a doubt with over 20 sacks in the past two years that he’s an elite pass rusher, regardless of the system he’s operating in. Getting 12.5 sacks last year in a new 3-4 system was clearly impressive, however.
Cam Jordan isn’t just a one-trick pony, which is why he’s so valuable in IDP leagues. In addition to his stout pass-rushing ability, Jordan also helps against the run and forced fumbles. With five forced fumbles and 143 total tackles in his first three years in the league, his versatility is unquestioned. If the Saints didn’t have two absolute stud safeties, he’d contend for the top IDP spot on their roster.
2. Jairus Byrd (Free Safety)
Jairus Byrd loses out to Kenny Vaccaro due to being new, coming off an injury and the bruiser in run support. That’s okay, though, since he’s still a solid tackler and makes most of his money in pass coverage. Byrd’s tackle numbers might not be elite for fantasy purposes, but they still aren’t low and he gets the job done as a ball hawk in coverage. A major upgrade over Malcolm Jenkins from last year, Byrd has the potential to post some sick numbers in his first season in New Orleans.
1. Kenny Vaccaro (Strong Safety)
As good as Byrd is and as much as he’ll probably help the Saints, he doesn’t touch Vaccaro’s upside. Kenny Vaccaro was thought to be a coverage liability coming in as a rookie in 2013, but that really wasn’t the case. Instead, he was dynamite in coverage against slot receivers and was also as stout as advertised against the run.
Despite missing two games due to injury, Vaccaro finished his debut NFL season with 79 total tackles, one pick, one sack and one forced fumble. A truly balanced and versatile last resort in New Orleans’ aggressive 3-4 unit, Vaccaro will only be better in 2014. His talent, solid rookie season and immense upside give him the potential to be one of the top young IDP options in all of fantasy football, easily making him the top IDP option to own in New Orleans.