Fantasy Football

Brees signs, fantasy owners rejoice

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Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler has spent the past 10 years covering and talking sports on TV and radio, in newspapers and on the web. He joined FOXSports.com as lead Fantasy Sports Editor and also acts as Digital Content Manager at WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter. Listen to his FOX Sports Team Report Podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes

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Unlike Adrian Peterson (returning from knee surgery), Peyton Manning (neck surgeries) and Kenny Britt (knee surgeries), Drew Brees inking a $100-million dollar contract (getting paid) fails to drastically impact his fantasy football value.

Let’s face it, it’s July 13. Had he held out of Saints’ training camp and the calendar flipped to August, I may have tweaked his fantasy football ranking a few notches. He remains the ninth-best fantasy football option overall and fourth-best quarterback on the board. (Note: the fantasy department will be publishing updated rankings Monday July 16)

It’s the trickle down effect of Brees’ new deal that fantasy owners should be ecstatic over. Without Sean Payton on the sidelines in 2012, the quarterback becomes the de facto coach on the field. All due respect to Joe Vitt, but Brees is going to run this offense his way. That means pass first, pass second and pass third in my opinion.

Let’s take a look at the Saints’ skill position players that fantasy owners will target this draft season:

Tight End: Jimmy Graham

Analysis: Rob Gronkowski and Graham have reinvented the value of the fantasy tight end. The two are fighting for first round consideration in early fantasy football mock drafts, but I think they’ll settle as middle-to-late second round selections.

Graham's fantasy value and success are directly linked to Brees, not Chase Daniels, taking the field on game days. It will be difficult to exceed 99 receptions, 1310 yards and 11 touchdowns, but remember Robert Meachem is now in San Diego. That’s 40 receptions, 620 yards and six touchdowns of production gone.

A happy Brees means a happy Graham.

Wide Receiver: Lance Moore

Analysis: Owners who select New Orleans’ slot machine should expect similar numbers year-over-year (52 receptions / 627 yards / 8 touchdowns) with a slight chance of an uptick in production because of Meachem’s absence. Brees trusts Moore – who was undrafted out of Toledo – and looks for him in the end zone. Moore without Brees loses a ton of fantasy value.

Wide Receiver: Marques Colston

Analysis: Despite breaking his collarbone in the season opener and missing two games, Colston finished the season strong and eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards for the third consecutive season (had he not been injured in 2008, he’d have six consecutive seasons) with eight touchdowns. His popularity among fantasy owners waned a little in 2011 because of Graham’s rise in production. But don’t sleep on Colston in 2012. Graham is on the radar of many defensive coordinators and could open some things up for the teams top receiver.

Running Backs: Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas

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Analysis: Sproles was the team’s leading rusher (603 yards) and third-leading receiver (710 yards). While I think he regresses a touch in 2012, he’s ranked 18th among running backs in my personal Top 50 Fantasy RB list. In PPR (points per reception) leagues, he jumps four-to-five spots.

Owners thinking about drafting Thomas or Ingram are playing with fire. Their numbers were very similar in 2011 with both backs rushing for five touchdowns. Ingram missed the end of the season with turf toe. With Brees pulling the trigger often, I think the two are middle-of-the-road RB2’s.

Oh, and just so I cover my bases, don’t forget about the goal line vulture Jed Collins. Two touchdowns on four rushes last season are worthy of a large check … to Commander’s Palace.

Follow Ryan on Twitter and send your tweets to @FOXSportsFowler

Tagged: Saints, Drew Brees, Lance Moore, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram

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