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Should You Draft Him?: New Orleans Saints

Anger is a powerful motivator. Apart from showing up some girl who didn’t pay him any attention, it’s probably the strongest influence that can be inflicted upon the male psyche. If a guy is enraged to a strong enough degree, he will pull off feats of physical strength far beyond his normal ability and he will commit illegal acts of violence that put his personal freedom at significant risk just for a chance at fleeting satisfaction against the one who offended him. If an extremely angry but physically average guy is cause for caution, 53 extremely angry men who weigh anywhere between 200-350 pounds who can run faster than you and hit with a force of 1,600 pounds should be cause for a public health alert. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the 2013 New Orleans Saints.

Remember 2007 when the New England Patriots decided to throw a middle finger at the league and the whole world in general because of Spygate? They unleashed unholy fury, running up the score on opponents like a No. 1 ranked SEC team pounding on Ball State. Tom Brady and Randy Moss torched the record books. The reason for their rage was hefty fines against coach Bill Belichick, and the forfeiture of a first-round draft pick. The Saints, on the other hand, were basically forced to sacrifice the entire 2012 season thanks to massive suspensions to three coaches and the general manager. If fines and a draft pick pissed off the Patriots enough to field the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, can you imagine the effect of being forced to endure what was essentially a lost season from the get-go?

As soon as Sean Payton was reinstated from his full season ban, Saints management quietly distanced themselves from the man who allowed such deplorable actions to occur under his watch. Nah, I’m just kidding. They immediately gave him a five-year extension and in the process made him the highest paid coach in the history of football. They aren’t sorry for S#%!. One of the best coaches in the game is out for revenge. One of the best quarterbacks on earth is out for blood. His running backs each have unique and valuable skill sets. His receivers are talented. His tight end is a movie monster come to life. Watching the Saints this year will be like watching someone play Madden with really, really realistic graphics. I normally ask if you should draft him, but in this case it’s more of a question of who shouldn’t you draft.

(ADP, or average draft position, is based on current data from 12-team standard leagues. Points per reception will be mentioned when relevant, and there will be no analysis of kickers and defenses.)

Drew Brees (ADP: 24th Overall):

I don’t mean to call Aaron Rodgers overrated or anything, because I do believe he’s the best real-life quarterback in the league, but why is he the consensus No. 1 fantasy quarterback and not Brees? Just look at Brees’ stats over the last two seasons. He had 10,600 yards and 89 touchdowns. I mean, I guess Aaron Rodgers is more efficient and younger, but after the recent monster seasons of old guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brett Favre, 34 doesn’t really seem old at all for the position.

A fully healthy Jimmy Graham, getting his head coach back, and a heaping helping of the “anger quotient” point toward him somehow managing to be even more potent than last season. He has added value as well because he is one of only two quarterbacks with absolutely zero question marks; the other being Rodgers. He’s never missed a game as a Saint due to injury, and there is no evidence of any kind of decline. He doesn’t have Manning’s declining arm strength, Brady’s decimated receiving corps, Cam Newton’s heavy dependence on rushing stats, and he isn’t a second-year quarterback. I was against taking Rodgers in the middle of Round 2, but Brees at the very end of the round gives better value and a stronger weekly advantage than a wide receiver or running back in that same slot will give.

Should you draft him?

Darren Sproles (ADP: 35th Overall):

Let’s get this out of the way right now: If Sproles falls to Round 3 in your points per reception draft, your whole league should quit fantasy football in shame. He was a top 5 running back in PPR leagues in 2011. Last year he was ninth in PPR with three missed games. Extrapolate his point total to 16 games and he was fourth, just ahead of Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch. I repeat: he scored more points per week than Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch. But somehow every PPR mock draft I see has him going somewhere between 20th and 32nd overall. How am I the only person seeing this? I feel like I’m the only cartoon character who sees the WB frog dancing and singing.

Sproles’ standard league stats extrapolated to 16 games would have made him 14th, just ahead of Steven Jackson and Reggie Bush. Maybe it’s because his game is so strange and unconventional and it doesn’t feel right to draft a running back who doesn’t run much, but the numbers are there. The last time Sproles was coached by Payton he had 86 receptions, nine touchdowns and more than 1,300 total yards. He is the 22nd running back coming off the board in standard leagues and somehow not a first-round pick in PPR drafts. Get him.

Should you draft him?

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