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Projecting the New Orleans Saints

I recently appeared on RotoViz Radio: A Football Podcast to discuss the NFC South with Matthew Freedman and discuss how I see things shaking out this year down south. In case you weren’t aware, the fantastic tools here at RotoViz like the Best Ball ADP App and the Cheat Sheet Calculator are powered by the projections of our contributors. If you would like to hear the episode, here you go. Let’s take a look at the New Orleans Saints and see if there is value with Josh Hill and company.

New Orleans Saints

Josh Hill

After trading away Jimmy Graham for offensive line help and throwing a good chunk of money at running backs, on the surface the Saints look primed to turn to the run more. I don’t think throwing money at something necessarily means that it’s going to be used more. It’s possible that it just means they want to ensure when they do run they can do so with increased efficiency. It’s possible we see the Saints keep a fast pace, shorten the field, and work a lot more underneath routes while maintaining high volume. This isn’t to say the Saints won’t run – they will – because they run a lot of plays.

Quarterback

Josh Hill

Drew Brees is coming off the board as the sixth ranked quarterback, and I have him finishing as the seventh best signal caller for the year. While the Saints did help make many believe this is a “new look” offense, the reality is that there are still almost 1100 plays to fire off in this offense if we’re giving credence to what Sean Payton has done historically. 14TeamMocker likes some Drew Brees and provides plenty of reasons why this team is still going to chuck the rock.

Wide Receivers

Josh Hill

I expect big things from Brandin Cooks this year. While reassigning Jimmy Graham’s targets, you either have to spread them across the receiving corps somewhat evenly, or you assign majority of his targets to the next best pass-catcher. For me, it’s pretty obvious Cooks is best suited to take on the largest target share and become the true WR1 in this offense.

Cooks is coming off the board as the 13th receiver, and I have him finishing at WR12. I’m actually looking at this pretty conservatively, as I have him slotted to pull down 22 percent of the target market share, which nets him 140 targets. John Solis thinks Cooks should be a top 12 dynasty Wide Receiver.1.

If you don’t buy into Cooks as a target hog, then that means you pretty much have to buy into Marques Colston, who is coming off the board extremely late. Even if he doesn’t stay healthy, his price doesn’t hurt you and enables free production at a low WR2 range many weeks. It looks like Brandon Coleman won the WR3 job.2 While this theoretically makes him a strong value, I still wonder if Nick Toon eventually gets involved and these two still cannibalize one another. Either way, Coleman appears to be the play late in drafts.

Tight Ends

Josh Hill

Everyone has sure soured on Josh Hill. After an early offseason filled with glimmer and hope, Hill is coming off the board as just the 16th tight end. Ben Watson news has kept Hill’s price tag capped, but I think he’s a likely bet to finish in the top 12 – I have him finishing ninth. Ben Watson is 239 years old, and Josh Hill is a physical freak in the mold of Zach Ertz at a fraction of the cost. Patrick Kerrane broke down Hill’s ridiculous resume here. It’s possible that Hill could actually be the number three target in this offense.

Running Backs

Josh Hill

The recent CJ Spiller injury has me a little concerned and frankly pretty frustrated. I had Spiller as my 11th ranked RB due to his potential for passing down work mixed with his rushing share, but I had no choice but to drop him down a little. He is slated to be ready for Week 1, and he doesn’t have any past history with that knee.

I bumped Spiller down to 16th, matching his current ADP and still a target of mine given the 80 plus targets he should receive in this fast paced offense. Ben Gretch also thinks Spiller is the Saints back with the most upside. I still have Mark Ingram as a guy I have not been targeting even after the Spiller scare. He’s currently being drafted as the 14th running back, and I have him projected to finish 19th. He certainly has touchdown upside, but Spiller isn’t the only Saints running back with an injury history here.

I think it’s a mistake to think Khiry Robinson won’t be involved in this offense, especially considering Sean Payton has a history of using multiple backs. Ingram and Robinson are pretty redundant assets, so it just makes sense for the team to ease the load on Ingram and offer up some carries to the playoff superstar Robinson. 14TeamMocker is fading Mark Ingram and here is why. Robinson is nothing more than a late round flier or handcuff type, but he’s someone to keep on the short list for sure.

Be sure to play around with your own projections in the Projection Machine.

  1. If Cooks finishes as a low WR1, he’ll likely be a top 10 pick this time next year  (back)
  2. Because I traded for Nick Toon in a dynasty league recently, of course  (back)

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