Rough week for third-down backs. Reggie Bush is out four-to-six weeks after breaking his fibula in the Saints win over the Niners on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately the Saints don’t have a bye until week 10. Pierre Thomas and the Saints’ passing game will carry more of the load while Bush is out. 
As if he wasn’t already going to be a hot commodity after running wild last week, but Jason Snelling gets even more of a lift with Jerious Norwood being lost for the season to a torn ACL. This is not a big loss to the fantasy world.
The Patriots will be without Kevin Faulk for the year, who also suffered an ACL injury. Faulk had value in PPR leagues, but wasn’t of much use in standard leagues. Tom Brady will miss his reliable third down option. Look for Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski to pick up some of the slack in the passing game. Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis should receive a few extra carries.
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Written by Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com


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Many people think that 2010 will finally be the year that Pierre Thomas fully breaks out and explodes onto the scene.  My question for those people is…  Why?


Don’t get me wrong, Thomas is a solid running back and could emerge as a Top 10-15 RB, but that’s about his upper limit in my mind.  However, he’s currently the 16th running back being drafted (with an ADP of 29.00 according to Mock Draft Central).


Basically, he’s being drafted about where I think his best-case scenario is.  I know, he’s likely to finally be the #1 running back in New Orleans, but there are a few reasons that I’m skeptical heading into the season.


First of all, the presence of Reggie Bush.  While Thomas may get the bulk of the carries, Bush has proven to be a dynamic third down/change of pace back.  He’s going to be in the game as a receiving option and a playmaker, but don’t discount his ability to run the ball as well.


Granted, the team is not likely to hand the ball off to him time and time again, in order to keep him healthy.  Still, this past weekend he proved just how dangerous he could be on the ground rushing seven times for 49 yards and a touchdown.
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Pierre Thomas combined for a modest 1095 total yards (793 rushing) and 8 TDs (6 rushing) last year. He entered the season with high expectations, but the start of the season was derailed because of a knee injury. He came back with a vengeance piling up 126 yards and 2 TDs against Buffalo. He followed that game up with 132 total yards and a scored against the jets. From there it was a mixed bag, alternating between solid and subpar performances. He only got 12 carries in the final three weeks and 31 in the final five with just 1 TD.


Along the way Mike Bell vultured 654 yards and 5 TDs and Reggie Bush added 725 total yards (390 rushing) and 8 TDs (5 rushing). He had over 15 carries just once during the year (Week 4 vs. Jets). He seemed to pick it up a bit in the playoffs though rushing for 143 yards and a TD on 36 carries with 12 catches for 111 yards and 2 TDs.


He again enters the season with optimism thanks to Mike Bell’s departure to Philadelphia. PT is going on average with the 27th pick (16th RB). I personally have him higher (click to see my RB ratings). He is a perfect RB for the Saints’ system and picks up yards in chunks. Last year he averaged 5.4  yards per carry. Despite Reggie Bush’s presence, he still managed to catch 39 passes last year.


In the nine games last year in which he had 10+ carries he averaged 93.7 total yards with 7 TDs. In six double-figure carries games in 2008 he averaged 112.8 total yards with 9 TDs. He doesn’t need 20+ carries to do serious damage. As long as he gets about 15-18 touches he is capable of putting up RB1 numbers.


Without Mike Bell stealing his carries, PT is almost guaranteed to have that kind of usage. That, of course, is provided he stays healthy.


Prediction:  1300 total yards (1000 rushing), 8 TDs (7 rushing), 35 receptions


What do you expect from Pierre Thomas?



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The Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints are a fantasy friendly bunch. Big things should be in store for them in 2010 as well.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule: Moderate
On paper they have a cakewalk (Rams in Week 14), a dogfight (Ravens in Week 15), and a tough divisional match-up (Falcons in Week 16). The Baltimore game is in the road, and they could possibly run into some tough weather.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Drew Brees – Brees is easily one of the premier QBs (fantasy and reality) in the league. Throwing for 4000+ yards and 30+ TDs has become commonplace. He’s as consistent as they come.

Marques Colston – He has more weapons to share with Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson’s development, but he is still the go-to-guy.

Four Star Fantasy Options
Pierre Thomas – Staying healthy is the key, but PT is one of the most versatile backs in the league. He could approach 1500 total yards and double-digit scores.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Reggie Bush – Bush is obviously more valued in PPR leagues, but he has some value in standard leagues as well. He could easily approach 1000 total yards and 8-10 TDs.

Two Star Fantasy Options
Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson – I like both of these young WRs, but I value Meachem a little more. Meachem had 722 yards and 9 TDs. Henderson had 804 yards and 2 scores.

Jeremy Shockey – His mouth could lead you to believe he’s better than he actually is. He will get some yards, but he’s just as likely to injure himself.

Saints Defense/Special Teams – Their D isn’t great, but they are well coached. Darren Sharper is a perfect fit for this defense racking up INTs.

One Star Fantasy Options
Lynell Hamilton – Hamilton will take over for Mike Bell. He’ll need a PT injury to have consistent value.

Lance Moore – Injuries cost him last year, and given the success Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem shared, he could see few opportunities in 2010.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Mike Bell Speculation

24 September 2009

The Times-Picayune is reporting that New Orleans Saints RB Mike Bell could miss 3-4 weeks with his sprained knee.  Mike Bell, the Saints, and team doctors have not commented on Bell’s status for this weekend’s game, let alone his status a month from now.

The timetable is roughly that of Pierre Thomas.  The problem, though, is you’re not comparing apples to apples.  First of all, everyone recovers at a different pace.  Second, the extent of the injuries likely isn’t the same.

It’s all speculation at this point.  Take the Cowboys for example.  Marion Barber was slated to miss a week or two and he participates in practice the next two days.  What’s worse is you can’t even count on the injury report because team’s can list someone on the report every week (ahem Tom Brady) or they can choose not to list them (ahem Brett Favre).

The odds of Bell playing this weekend are slim.  Looking any further gets hazy.  We’ll have to see if he can practice.  Unless you are a game-changer like Brian Westbrook, practice is required to play.  Mike Bell is solid, but Westy he is not.  The Saints have an explosive passing game and Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush have proven capable of getting the job done out of the backfield.  The Saints are so confident in their system that Lynell Hamilton could be called upon this weekend.

I urge you not to overreact and drop Mike Bell until further information is revealed.  You can pick up Hamilton if have someone expendable, but check on Thomas’ status before you decide to plug him in on Sunday.  The same goes for the Cowboys situation.  You can plug in Felix Jones since he should produce whether MB3 plays or not, but do not use Tashard Choice, even in a flex spot, if Barber is going to play.  They don’t go until Monday so you’ll have to make that decision on Sunday.  When in doubt, I would lean towards using another option.

Going forward you’re likely to hear more injury timetables without the proper verification.  I’m not saying they are wrong, but I just caution you to make any rash decisions until all of the facts are revealed.

All three backs are going around the 4th or 5th round in fantasy drafts.  Derrick Ward has an Average Draft Position of 47, while Reggie Bush’s is 49 and Ray Rice’s is 61.  The question, is which back will be the most reliable fantasy option?

Obviously if he can stay healthy, Reggie Bush has the ability to put up some huge numbers in that Saints offense.  1000 receiving yards is not out of the question, with an additional 500-600 on the ground.  He will score his TDs in a variety of ways, but they usually come in bunches.  He is steadier in the passing game than carrying the ball, which gives him a major advantage in PPR leagues.  He was much better at home (93.4 yards per game, 4 TDs) than on the road (75.4, 2 TDs) last year.  His career numbers on the road (86.1 ypg) are actually slightly better than his home numbers (76.6), but he does almost all of his scoring at home (15 TDs compared to 5 road TDs).  The talent is there.  It’s just a matter of staying on the field.  Aside from the injuries, the only thing that worries me is the plethora of weapons at Drew Brees’ disposal.  Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey are good bounceback options.  Lance Moore was steady and reliable last year.  Robert Meachem as big time potential.  Devery Henderson is still in the mix.  Pierre Thomas can catch the ball out of the backfield.  Bush isn’t a lock to catch 80 passes.  If he doesn’t do serious damage in the passing game, he won’t meet his expectations.

Ray Rice has won the starting RB job in Baltimore, but is unlikely he will get the ball at the stripe. Those duties will belong to Le’Ron McClain and/or Willis McGahee.  Rice was productive in a limited capacity last year with 454 yards on 107 carries (4.2 ypc) and 33 receptions for 273 yards.  He failed to score a TD though, which really hurts is fantasy value.  It’s great if you’re going to pile up the yards, but if you don’t get the occasional six point TD bump from Rice, he’s not going to give you the big games you occasionally need from your RBs to win a fantasy matchup.  Even though the Ravens are a run-first team, there just won’t be enough yards for Rice because if he’s healthy McGahee is going to get 8-10 touches per game.  McClain will probably get a couple as well.  He’s a borderline RB2 in PPR leagues, and if he wants to make the leap to RB2 in non-PPR leagues, he’ll have to prove he can cross the goal line. 

Derrick Ward will have to prove that his production was based on his ability, rather than the New York Giants system.  The Giants led the league with 5.0 yards per carry, while Tampa was tied for 18th at 4.1 ypc.  He hasn’t officially won the starting gig with the Bucs, but he should win out over Earnest Graham after signing as a Free Agent in the offseason.  That said, Earnest Graham will get plenty of carries making this a pretty even RBBC.  Graham will likely get the goal line looks while Ward will get the passes out of the backfield.  Clifton Smith and even Cadillac Williams could also work their way into the mix for the Bucs.  It’s hard to predict what Ward will do on a new team with a first-time Head Coach.
Of the three, Ward looks to be in the biggest time share.  Reggie will get fewer carries, but he’ll also catch more passes.  All three should catch 40+ passes this year.  If Rice can get in the end zone, he could be the top scorer of the three.  To me Reggie has the most potential while Rice is the safest play.  Plus, if you can sneak an extra round in and still get him, your fantasy squad will be that much tighter.

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Pierre Thomas running

Pierre Thomas has been a trendy pick in fantasy football leagues this year.  The hype train has finally let Reggie Bush off.  Pierre Thomas is the more complete Running Back and will take the lion’s share of the carries as well as the goal line duties.  He has bulked up to handle the beating that 100+ additional carries will bring.  He gave a glimpse of what he can do with regular touches last year in Weeks 11-16 when he averaged 112.83 yards (79.16 rushing) on 15.5 carries and 3.2 receptions with 9 TDs.  Reggie will still get his touches, but Pierre is clearly the feature back.

Reggie Bush Leaping
That doesn’t mean that Reggie Bush should be an afterthought.  If he can stay healthy, he is still one of the most explosive players in the league.  He will likely have more receiving yards than rushing yards.  He should have 70+ receptions to lead all Running Backs.  He will add a Punt Return for TD if he is given the opportunity, though at this point I would take that duty away for his health’s sake. 

In an offense like the Saints have matchups are almost irrelevant, but I’ll point out his favorable matchups against Detroit (Week 1) and St. Louis (Week 10) and his challenging ones against Philly (Week 2), the Giants (Week 6), Carolina (Week 9), New England (Week 12), and Washington (Week 13).  Their fantasy playoff schedule is Atlanta, Dallas, and Tampa Bay, which is fairly difficult.

Pierre Thomas will likely go in the second or third round in your fantasy draft.  I expect him to be very productive with 1400+ total yards and 10+ TDs.  Meanwhile, Reggie Bush should have around 1100 total yards (400 rushing, 700 receiving) with 8 total TDs.  Bush will be drafted in the third or fourth round, with a significant bump in PPR leagues.

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Reggie Bush Leaping
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Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian are no longer an item giving Reggie Bush more time to focus on football as the New Orleans Saints are set to open Training Camp on Friday, July 31st. 

Bush had a solid fantasy season last year that was hindered by a knee injury.  Bush had 844 yards from scrimmage (404 rushing, 440 receiving) and 9 TDs (2 rushing, 4 receiving, 3 punt return).  Bush was especially effective in PPR leagues as he hauled in 52 passes.

The Saints are considered one of the top offensive teams once again heading into the 2009 season.

If you had to pick a New Orleans Saints Running Back for your fantasy team, who would it be?  Would you go with the electrifying Reggie Bush who has missed ten games the past two years or the unheralded Pierre Thomas?  This is a dilemma for a friend of mine who has both players in his keeper league.  He needs to decide which one to keep and which one to cut loose. It is conceivable to keep both, but that’s a risky move on a pass-happy team.  Lets take a look at last year’s numbers.

Bush:  106 carries for 404 yards (3.8 ypc), 2 TDs; 52 receptions for 440 yards and 4 TDs; 3 return TDs
Thomas:  129 carries for 625 yards (4.8 ypc), 9 TDs; 31 receptions for 284 yards, 3 TDs

In standard scoring leagues, Bush had 138.4 points in 10 games.  Thomas had 162.9 points in 15 games.  Pierre’s average of 10.86 fantasy points per game is significantly less than Reggie’s 13.84, but you do have to factor in the injuries.  Thomas is just a couple months older so age really isn’t a factor.  Reggie carried the load early and Pierre took over down the stretch.  Week 14 both backs were a factor.  Bush had ten carries for 80 yards and 3 catches for 26 yards and a score.  Over half of his rushing yardage came on a 43 yard play.  Meanwhile Thomas had 16 carries for 102 yards and a score, as well as a seven-yard TD reception.  Thomas is a slightly bigger back at 5’11″, 215 compared to Reggie’s 6’0″, 203.  Going back to 2007, when Thomas gets the opportunity he produces.
The Saints passed up the opportunity to add big back Andre Brown (6’0″, 224) with their two 4th round picks (116th & 118th overall) so it appears they will utilize Thomas in the Deuce McAllister role.  While Bush has more potential for the big game, Pierre is a much more consistent scorer.  I’m afraid I would lean towards keeping Pierre Thomas over Bush.

What are your thoughts?

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The Saints were equal parts bad Defense and injuries on Offense.  They have Drew Brees coming back though, so there should be no worries on Offense.  At least not in the passing game.  Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush form a pretty dynamic RB pair.  Obviously Bush will need to be more durable next year.  Deuce McAllister will be released if he doesn’t restructure his contract and take a pay cut.  Lance Moore was a pleasant surprise and a fantasy hero last year.  He’s a Restricte Free Agent, but the Saints are most likely going to sign him.  He’ll team up with Marques Colston.  Unrestricted Free Agent Devery Henderson has likely played his last downs in a Saints uniform.  Robert Meachem will get an opportunity to step up.  Jeremy Shockey and Billy Miller form a solid TE duo.  Shockey needs to prove he can stay healthy.  They have some Free Agents on the O-Line (Jon Stinchcomb, Jahri Evans, Zach Strief, and Matt Lehr).  It’s highly unlikely they keep all four so they could look to add depth on their line. 

Defensively, the Saints need to address Free Agent Jonathan Vilma, who led the team with 132 tackles last year.  S Josh Bullocks is also an Unrestricted Free Agent.  He had 41 tackles last year.  The Saints need to improve their pass rush as they recorded just 28 Sacks last year.  Once again the Defense is a more pressing need than their Offense.

**UPDATE:  Deuce McAlliser was cut**

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB Joey Harrington UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
RB Aaron Stecker UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
WR Devery Henderson UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
WR Lance Moore RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
WR Courtney Roby RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
TE Mark Campbell UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
PK Martin Gramatica UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
OG Matt Lehr UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
OT Jon Stinchcomb UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
OL Jahri Evans RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
OL Zach Strief RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
DL Antwan Lake UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
DL Montavious Stanley RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
DL Mike Wright UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
LB Troy Evans UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
LB Marvin Mitchell RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
LB Jonathan Vilma UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
CB Aaron Glenn UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
CB Leigh Torrence RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
SS Chris Reis RFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent
FS Josh Bullocks UFA New Orleans Saints Free Agent

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