Fantasy Football

Fantasy player spotlight: Marques Colston

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on and follow him on Twitter.

People, I have a bone to pick with you about the wide receivers you've been drafting. It's not that you're taking Reggie Wayne higher than my man Andre Johnson in the average draft, though finding that out did almost make my head explode. No, I'm writing to complain about your clear lack of respect for Saints wideout Marques Colston, the pride of Hofstra University (after Wayne Chrebet, anyway). I've got Colston ranked seventh at his position, while his Average Draft Position (ADP) is 18th among wide receivers, behind Canton-bound luminaries like Antonio Bryant and Vincent Jackson. I'm a big believer in the idea that reasonable people can disagree. In this case, however, most of you are being very unreasonable. Fortunately, I'm here to show you the light. Colston first made a name for himself in 2006, when he caught 70 passes for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games. He seemed to have his big games in bunches, with one three-game stretch in the middle of the season of 27 catches, 455 yards and three touchdowns. He actually missed most of a third game and was rested for much of the season finale. Those overall numbers look a lot better over a 12-game season, don't they? In 2007, Colston caught 98 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. He caught eight or more passes in six different games and, during one five-game stretch, had 42 receptions for 584 yards and four scores. A quarterback doesn't throw to a guy that much unless he really trusts him, right? Colston injured his thumb early in 2008 and missed five weeks because of the surgery that repaired it. He was also bothered by a knee injury for much of the season, which limited his practice time. Even so, he went 44/734/5 in his last nine games and a stellar 22/306/4 in his final three contests. Offseason knee surgery seems to have fixed the issue, and the Saints are saying that Colston is 100 percent healthy. You never know with these things, but he's looked fine so far in the preseason. Colston's rise in New Orleans has coincided with the stellar play of quarterback Drew Brees, who has averaged 4,637 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons as a Saint. During Brees' tenure, here's a look at the team's leading receivers:
Player Receptions Yards Rec. TD
Colston 215 3,000 24
Reggie Bush 213 1,599 8
Lance Moore (2 seasons) 112 1,240 12
Billy Miller 86 1,036 3
Devery Henderson 84 1,587 11
And here's a look at the Saints' NFL rank in key passing categories during the same timeframe:
Year Yards Attempts TD
2006 4,503 (1) 580 (T5) 27 (T4)
2007 4,314 (3) 652 (1) 28 (T9)
2008 4,977 (1) 636 (1) 34 (T1)
Those two tables basically tell us that Colston is the top target in arguably the top passing offense in the NFL. You want to take 17 wide receivers ahead of him? Really? Wait, I'm not done. Let's hear from Brees, who spent some extra time working out with Colston during the offseason. The quotes below came from this article on "I feel like I could throw it just about anywhere with him, and he's got a chance to catch it ..." said Brees, who compared Colston to a great power forward in basketball. "It's because he has great body control. Most guys like that, you can look at and be like, 'I guarantee he's a good basketball player, ' which he is. Just the way they position their body down in the paint, or where they're used to shielding guys off, giving you a place to get them the ball ... and then there just comes a confidence level with that, where I know that if he's one-on-one, there's not many times I'm not going to throw him the ball." How about more from Saints CB Randall Gay, who often gets the lucky assignment of having to cover Colston in practice? "I was frustrated many days when I'm thinking I have the perfect coverage. Then they throw it high at him, and I'm like, 'He can't catch it, ' and he comes down with it ... so as a DB, it's just tough on you, you just have to keep your confidence up when you cover somebody like that." Now, we have ourselves the top target in arguably the top passing offense in the NFL, with a Pro Bowl quarterback who has a hard time not throwing to him in a man-to-man situation, and a defensive back teammate who gets demoralized whenever he has to cover him. With Moore, Bush, Henderson and Jeremy Shockey making opposing defenses' heads spin all season, do you think Colston might get a few opportunities without double coverage? I'd guess so. If Colston has a weakness, it's that he's been injury-prone, missing eight games over the last three seasons. As I wrote earlier, you never know about these things. The thumb injury was more of a freak thing than a nagging problem, and the knee seems fine now. Knowing that, either you want to take a leap of faith or you don't. I'll take one on Colston because of his talent and his unbelievably fortunate situation. Where would you rank Dwayne Bowe if he played for the Saints? Or T.J. Houshmandzadeh? Good Lord, Andre Johnson might catch 200 passes in this offense. I'm not going to wait too long on Colston in my remaining drafts — I took him in the third round last week. I'd be happy with him as a WR1 and absolutely ecstatic with him as a WR2. Unless Colston gets hurt again, it will be hard for him NOT to be a fantasy stud.

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