Drew Brees spiral
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We are hours away from the start of the 12th week of the 2013 NFL season as the New Orleans Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons. This is not quite the game the NFL Network expected when they scheduled it. It’s also the kickoff for the 12th week of the fantasy football season. Here’s a look of players that should be in your lineups tonight.
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Five Stars
Drew Brees
Jimmy Graham
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Four Stars
Harry Douglas
Tony Gonzalez
Garrett Hartley
Matt Ryan
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Three Stars
Marques Colston
Pierre Thomas
Roddy White
New Orleans Defense
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Two Stars
Matt Bryant
Steven Jackson
Lance Moore
Jacquizz Rodgers
Darren Sproles
Kenny Stills
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One Star
Mark Ingram
Darius Johnson
Robert Meachem
Antone Smith
Jason Snelling
Benjamin Watson
Atlanta Defense
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New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Marques Colston averaged 1,056.3 yards and 8.3 touchdowns in his first seven years in the league. Not bad for the 252nd pick of the 2006 NFL draft. Fantasy football owners have been counting on him since he exploded on the scene during his rookie season with 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns. This year he’s on pace for 864 yards and three touchdowns. Will he continue to struggle or is now a good time to buy low?
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Though Colston’s numbers have dipped, he’s still easily the primary wide receiver option for Drew Brees. Unfortunately, he’s been turning  to Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. All three have more receptions than Colston’s 24. Graham and Sproles have been targeted more frequently. Graham is clearly the primary option. As long as his ankle heals, Graham’s odds of remaining Brees’ favorite target are as good as the NFL odds at Topbet.eu.
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Eventually that should work in Colston’s favor as he won’t have to deal with shutdown cornerbacks as frequently. Look for teams to take the New England Patriots’ lead and use their best corners on Graham. Colston didn’t make the Patriots pay for it in Week 6, but don’t be surprised if he takes advantage going forward.
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The past two games have been brutal for Colston as he managed just three catches for 26 yards. He did average 74.5 yards during the first four games though. While that’s not an elite number, it does put him on pace for 1,192 yards if he maintained that average. Even with those duds, it would only take an average of 67.6 yards per game over the final 10 games of the year for Colston to hit the 1000-yard mark again. That is not an unreasonable mark.
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The biggest concern is the lack of touchdowns. He has not scored inside the red zone. He’s 6’4″ and 225 pounds. He should be able to use his large frame to win some goal line battles. Colston only dipped below seven touchdowns in 2008 when he was limited to 11 games. Can he score six touchdowns in the final 10 games? Anything is possible when Drew Brees is throwing you the football, but that seems unlikely. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get to five or six scores though.
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If Colston can averaged 67.6 yards and 0.4 touchdowns over the final 10 games to finish with 1,000 yards and five touchdowns he will have averaged a little over nine fantasy points per game in non-points-per-reception leagues. That is certainly adequate for a WR3.
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Obviously everything comes down to the asking price and the risk. Six games is a sufficient sample size. There is a risk that he will maintain his mediocre pace. Taking his whole body of work into account, though, leads you to believe that he can get back on track. If you can acquire him for a reasonable asking price, the potential reward would outweigh the potential risk.
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New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was heading towards a second straight 1000-yard, ten touchdown season before he seemingly hit a wall. Graham has been dealing with a wrist injury that has, no doubt, been hindering his play. With everything at stake, should you start Graham in your fantasy football championship game?
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Before you even consider benching Graham, you will have to have a pretty serious backup. I’m talking a Greg Olsen or Dennis Pitta type. If you’re going to sit down one of the games best tight ends, you better have a great alternative.
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Sure, Graham has failed to score a touchdown in three straight games.  Sure, he has not topped 60 yards since Week 10. You know, given his size and athleticism, that he is capable of breaking out in a big way any time he steps on the football field.
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Graham is averaging 49.2 yards per game in his past five games.  He has just one touchdown during that stretch. There aren’t many tight ends that average 50 yards per game. If you have one that is capable of doubling that mark, you almost have to stick with him.
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Graham may have just one touchdown catch in his past five games, but he has 19 over the past two years.  He is a nightmare to cover around the goal line because he’s too quick for linebackers and too big for defensive backs.
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I know you’re frustrated that you haven’t getting the big game from Jimmy Graham lately. I suggest you ride it out and hope that he delivers you a championship next week against the Dallas Cowboys.
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drew-brees
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By Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Must Start Options
Quarterback - Drew Bree’s (NO), Matt Ryan (Atl)
Running Back - None
Wide Receiver - Roddy White (Atl), Julio Jones (Atl), Marques Colston (NO)
Tight End - Jimmy Graham (NO), Tony Gonzalez (Atl)

Open for Discussion
Running Back – Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints
We all know that Sproles’ value comes from his ability to catch the football, as he hasn’t gotten more than seven carries in a game this season. In his first game back he wasn’t given a handoff, but did bring in seven receptions for 65 yards. In a game that is likely going to be a shootout, this gives him the highest upside of any Saints’ running back (as is the case for most weeks).
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However, that doesn’t make him a recommended option. There’s just too much uncertainty and too many other weapons to say for sure tha Sproles is going to post big numbers. Could he have the type of day he did against the Panthers (13 receptions for 128 yards)? Absolutely, but he could just as easily post a line like the one he had against San Diego (5 receptions for 28 yards). He is electric, which keeps him as a FLEX option, but you likely have a better option for a RB2 spot.
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Running Back – Pierre Thomas/Chris Ivory/Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
It is easier just to lump these three together, because their situation is identical. It was difficult to determine which would be the better back when Sproles was out of action, as they all shared touches. Now that he is back and they all have lost snaps because of it, the situation becomes impossible to predict. Unless you are desperate, you can’t trust any of these three.
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Running Back – Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
You would’ve thought that he would be an easy play, especially against a Saints defense that is allowing the most rushing yards per game this season (156.5). However, he has slowly started to lose opportunities to Jacquizz Rodgers. In fact, in three of the past five games Rodgers has led the team in rushing yards. Actually, it’s not that impressive of a feat. Only three times in 11 games has a Falcons running back rushed for over 65 yards.  That said, opportunity is opportunity and it’s far from a given that Turner gets it.
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This is a passing attack, though you have to think that they are going to run the ball given the matchup this week. With the recent trend who is to say that it will be Turner and not Rodgers getting the majority of the chances (it’s safe to say that neither is going to get the “bulk” of them)? While I would still prefer Turner, the questions make him more of a FLEX option. However, it really depends on your alternatives as to if he is a recommended option or not.
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Running Back – Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons
You can take everything that was said about Turner and basically copy it here word for word. The difference is that Rodgers is more of a hugh risk/huge reward option at the FLEX. While he has the chance to emerge (especially give his role in the passing game), he also may not get the opportunities. Unless you are desperate, would keep him tucked away on your bench until he officially overtakes Turner on the depth chart.
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Wide Receiver – Lance Moore – New Orleans Saints
While he had a big game against Oakland (scoring a pair of touchdowns), Moore’s numbers really haven’t been there of late. He has three receptions or fewer in four of his past five games (with 61 yards or fewer in four of the five games) and has scored a touchdown in three games all season. Taking on a good passing defense, is this the type of early week gamble you want to take?
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Wide Receiver – Devery Henderson – New Orleans Saints
He gets fewer opportunities than Moore. Yes, it’s a high powered offense, but there is way too much risk to trust him.
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Wide Receiver – Henry Duglas – Atlanta Falcons
With Julio Jones returning to health, there’s just too much risk. Sure, he could make a play but he could just as easily be shutout.
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings:


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The New Orleans Saints are a mess defensively. They can’t stop the run. They can’t stop the pass. On the other side of the football it’s petty much the status quo. Brees, Colston, and Jimmy Graham are tearing it up and Sproles and Lance Moore have had their moments. Almost as disappointing as the defense has been Mark Ingram.
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Pierre Thomas and Ingram have each had 37 carries.  Besides the pathetic 7.4 rushing attempts per game they are managing, you should be concerned with the fact that Ingram has gained 76 fewer yards or a full two yards per carry less. Sproles has only had 17 carries, but is only 15 yards shy of Ingram.
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Not to mention that Sproles (235 yards) and Thomas (139 yards) contribute in the passing game. Ingram has just one reception for negative one yard.
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What’s worse is 53 yards and his lone touchdown came in Week 2 against Carolina. In the remaining four games he has totaled just 53 yards. Even Chris Johnson is laughing at that lack of production.
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It likely isn’t getting better any time soon.
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The Saints will continue to struggle on defense, meaning that it will be up to Drew Brees and company to move the chains and put points on the board. Thomas and Sproles are significantly better suited for this kind of use.
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It may be time to give Ingram his walking papers. You will likely have a roster decision based on upcoming byes. Unless something drastically changes you won’t be able to count on Ingram in your lineups. Let somebody else have the dud.
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If he shows signs of life you can try to snatch him back up, but he seems more likely to continue wasting space.
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drew-brees
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With all of the turmoil surrounding the New Orleans Saints, you would have thought the Drew Brees contact situation would be dealt with swiftly. Unfortunately for Saints’ fans and keeper league Brees owners that hasn’t been the case.
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Brees is now missing mandatory minicamp. While it isn’t a big deal for a player of Brees’ stature, it would be nice for a team that is making adjustments thanks to their Bountygate suspensions.
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Brees means as much to the Saints’ franchise as any team does in the league so I can’t get too worried about a deal getting done. Besides, they have more than a month to get something hammered out. If we get into July and they are still at a stalemate it may be time to get a little concerned, but until then I’ll keep him locked in at number two in my fantasy quarterback rankings.
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That said, if somebody took Tom Brady over Brees I wouldn’t argue the move. Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford provide a little more risk because they don’t have Brees’ track record, but that’s a calculated risk.
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Brees is 33 and coming off one of the finest seasons ever, shattering Dan Marino’s record with 5476 yards and approaching Tom Brady’s record with 46 touchdown passes. He has thrown for at least 4388 yards in his six seasons (including two 5000+ seasons) with the Saints and tossed at least 33 TDs over the past four.
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It’s too early to panic on Brees. Do try and use the contract stall as a way to sneak Brees away from his keeper owner, but realize that could be a tall order.
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Marques Colston TD
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Marques Colston is sidelined with a broken collarbone, but do not expect the Saints’ potent offense to come to a halt. Drew Brees is too talented and he’ll make due with the weapons he has.
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Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem are more than capable of shouldering the load while Colston and Lance Moore (groin) are on the mend. They have been in the offense for years and that continuity should not go unnoticed.
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The injuries could almost be a blessing for Jimmy Graham as there are less mouths to feed in what is expected to be his breakout season. Graham has the speed-size-athleticism combo that today’s best tight ends possess. It makes them virtually unable to be covered by linebackers because of his speed and by safeties because of his size.
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Darren Sproles was every bit as good as advertised for the Saints. He should make the loss of Reggie Bush go unnoticed. He’s equally as dangerous in the return game and in the passing game as Bush, but is a better runner between the tackles.
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Speaking of runners, despite getting stuffed at the goal line, Ingram’s presence will provide enough balance to keep defenses from merely trying to take the pass away. If they go with a dime package to slow Brees, Ingram will make them pay.
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Don’t downgrade Brees. He’ll be just fine. Aside from Colston, all the Saints’ skill position players actually get an upgrade.
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