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2017 FANTASY POST MORTEM: New Orleans Saints

The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. Having covered all of 2017’s non-playoff NFL teams, it’s time to review the rest, with the next squad being:

New Orleans Saints (11-5)


Player Info. Passing Rushing Fumbles
Name G Comp. Att. % Yards Y/G Y/A 300+ TD Int Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD 100+ Lost
Drew Brees 16 386 536 72.0 4334 270.9 8.1 3 23 8 33 12 .8 .4 2 0 0

The 2017 season was not a typical Drew Brees fantasy campaign, as the 17-year veteran finished with his lowest single-season passing yard total in New Orleans, while his 536 passing attempts were his fewest since 2009. Brees’ depressed passing stats coincided with a fundamental shift in the Saints’ identity, as their defense took a significant step forward, thus negating the need to rely as heavily on Brees outscoring opponents with his arm. While the end result worked out well for the Saints in that they were able to make it all the way to the divisional semifinals, it was not what fantasy owners had in mind when spending an early-round draft pick on one of the most consistently productive passers of the last decade. Even at 39 years-old, Brees clearly still has plenty left in the tank, though his upside diminishes if he isn’t slinging the rock 45-50 times per game as has typically been the norm.

Running Back

Player Info. Rushing Receiving Fumbles
Name G Rush Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Lost
Mark Ingram 16 230 1124 70.3 4.9 4 12 58 416 26.0 7.2 0 0 3
Alvin Kamara 16 120 728 45.5 6.1 1 8 81 826 51.6 10.2 1 5 1
Adrian Peterson 4 27 81 20.3 3.0 0 0 2 4 1.0 2.0 0 0 0

Going into the 2017 season, there were major questions as to how the Saints planned to use veterans Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson with the addition to third-round rookie Alvin Kamara. Those questions were answered during the Saints’ Week 4 bye week, as the team traded Peterson to Arizona, solidifying Ingram and Kamara as a backfield tandem to be reckoned with. From Week 4 onward, Ingram and Kamara amassed 2,569 combined rushing/receiving yards and 23 scores (1,324-11 for Kamara and 1,245-12 for Ingram). With the Saints seemingly shifting from a fast-paced air attack to a more ground-and-pound ball control oriented offense, there should be plenty of touches for both Ingram and Kamara to thrive as RB1s this coming season, though early indications are that the younger Kamara will be the more expensive option in summer fantasy drafts. Underrated as a receiver with at least 46 receptions in each of his last three seasons, Ingram may end up being the better value relative to draft position out of the duo.

Wide Receiver

Player Info. Receiving Rushing Fumbles
Name G Rec Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Rush Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Lost
Michael Thomas 16 104 1245 77.8 12.0 2 5 0 0 .0 .0 0 0 0
Ted Ginn Jr. 15 53 787 52.5 14.8 1 4 10 39 2.6 3.9 0 0 0
Brandon Coleman 16 23 364 22.8 15.8 0 3 0 0 .0 .0 0 0 2
Willie Snead 11 8 92 8.4 11.5 0 0 0 0 .0 .0 0 0 1

Surpassing his rookie year numbers in yards and catches is certainly impressive, though it’s hard not to be disappointed in Michael Thomas’ five touchdown catches after he posted nine the season prior. Even so, Thomas proved he’s more than capable of serving as top wideout after Brandin Cooks was traded to New England in March 2017. Throw in a dominating postseason performance last January (15 catches, 216 yards, 2 TD across two games), and Thomas has the look of a fantasy stud who should show some positive regression in the touchdown department. Ted Ginn Jr. was brought in via free agency shortly after Cooks departed, and finished with his highest single-season yardage total since 2008 in Miami. Now 33 years old, Ginn likely slides down to third on the Saints’ wideout depth chart after the team was able to lure Cameron Meredith away from Chicago, assuming the latter’s recovery from a torn ACL and MCL suffered last summer goes setback free. Brandon Coleman was once considered a fantasy sleeper as a 6-foot-6 potential red zone weapon, though it appears his utility remains as nothing more than a depth option. Willie Snead amassed 141 receptions and 1,879 receiving yards over his first two NFL campaigns, though he fell out of favor with the Saints’ coaching staff as a PED suspension and hamstring injury cost him five games while seeing the field sparingly in the ones he did suit up for. Snead has a golden chance to rehabilitate his career in 2018, as the receiver-needy Baltimore Ravens signed Snead to a two-year, $10 million offer sheet that turned into a binding contract after the deadline for New Orleans to match came and went.

Player Info. Receiving Rushing Fumbles
Name G Rec Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Rush Yds Y/G Avg 100+ TD Lost
Coby Fleener 11 22 295 26.8 13.4 0 2 0 0 .0 .0 0 0 0
Josh Hill 16 16 125 7.8 7.8 0 1 1 -8 -.5 -8.0 0 0 2

Coby Fleener has been nothing short of a disappointment in New Orleans since signing a five-year, $36 million free agent deal in March 2016, having caught a total of just 72 balls for 926 yards and five scores in two seasons as a Saint. Fleener’s obscenely large contract relative to his production, combined with the Saints’ acquisition of old friend Ben Watson during free agency has fueled speculation the former Stanford alum could be a cut candidate prior to the 2018 season opener. Josh Hill didn’t surpass 30 receiving yards in any 2017 regular season contest but came up big in the playoffs, averaging 51.5 yards per game. Heading into his age-28 season, Hill has never eclipsed 200 receiving-yards in any of his five NFL seasons and won’t push for a full-time gig.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.