The New Orleans Saints have been one of the top offensive teams for some time. Most NFL Fantasy Football fans are okay drafting Saints early because they know New Orleans' players score fantasy points. As an example, Drew Brees has led the NFL in passing yards since Johnny Unitas' last season in the NFL.
Okay. That's a bit of hyperbole. But, the point remains that Saints skill players chalk up major fantasy points. Always have, always will, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
This could be the season when the Saints offense goes south in terms of fantasy value. Keep reading to find out why.
The Offensive Line Has Some Issues
Running backs can't rush the football if there aren't any holes to rush the football through. Quarterbacks can't throw the football if they must play evading the sack, or, in some cases, off their backs.
The biggest reason why the Saints' skill players might not strike fantasy gold in 2017 is because for the first time in a long time the Saints O-line doesn't look that great. For argument sake let's say that the offensive line doesn't come together.
What happens to the Saints' offensive stars? Take a look at the predictions.
QB Drew Brees
Last Season's Stats: 37 TD passes, 15 INTs, 5,208 passing yards, 70% completion percentage
When Drew Brees has time, he's one of the deadliest quarterbacks in the NFL. Brees can put the pigskin through a washer. At least, it feels like he could.
With a bad offensive line, Brees' numbers should different in 2017 than they were in 2016. Here's why: the Saints are counting on Brees to play at least another 3 to 4 years. The 39-year-old QB can't play if he's getting sacked on every play.
What's Brees and coach Sean Payton going to do? They're going to call more throws to running backs out of the backfield, slants to wide receivers, and passes to the tight-end. They're also going to rush the ball much more than they have in the past.
Predicted Stats: 32 TD passes, 9 INTS, 4,400 passing yards, 67% completion percentage
Brees should still be an elite quarterback, but he won't be a Top 3 fantasy QB. He isn't worth drafting until maybe the 3rd Round. Maybe. If you draft any earlier expect to be disappointed.
RB Mark Ingram
Last Season's Stats: 1,043 rushing yards, a 5.1 per rush average, 6 rushing TDs, 46 catches, 319 receiving yards, 4 TD catches
Ingram has been one of the steadiest RB fantasy performers in the past 3 seasons. Because New Orleans signed Adrian Peterson, Ingram's stats across the board figure to go down. Then again, Ingram's got much better hands than AP does. What it means is that if the Saints have trouble rushing the football, they might call way more short passes to Ingram than trying to bulldoze it down the middle with AP.
Predicted Stats: 854 rushing yards, a 4.5 per rush average, 4 rushing TDs, 60 catches, 510 receiving yards, 6 TD catches
Ingram's numbers won't be as good this season as they were last season. Still, it's hard to see Payton not using his skill set. This is especially true if the offensive line doesn't come together to block for AP. If you go WR in Round 1 and Round 2, seriously consider drafting Ingram in Round 3.
RB Adrian Peterson
Last Season's Stats: 30 attempts, 80 combined yards, 1 fumble, 0 TDs.
AP only played in 2 games before leaving the field for the entire season due to an injury. He's looked really good in Saints camp. I'm sure Sean Payton promised that he'd get the football if he signed with New Orleans. But, how often is AP really going to get the pigskin?
I'm not sure I'd draft AP until near the end of the entire draft. There are too many question marks to spend an early round draft pick on the Saints prize FA acquisition.
WR Michael Thomas
Last Season's Stats: 93 catches, 1,137 yards, 9 TDs, 2 fumbles
Although Brees' numbers could go south this season, Thomas's numbers should soar. Michael Thomas is easily the best wide receiver on the Saints' roster. When was the last time we could say that about any Saints' WR?
Predicted Stats: 100 catches, 1,450 yards, 11 TDs
Thomas is worth drafting late in Round 1 or early in Round 2. He should be one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Even if the Saints' offensive line doesn't come together, I like Thomas to approach 100 catches if not exceed 100 catches.
There you have it. The New Orleans Saints skill players could have a so-so fantasy season. With the exception of Michael Thomas, there isn't a player that you should consider drafting until Round 3 or 4. Let someone else make the mistake of drafting a Saints skill player early.