2015 Fantasy Football: Analyzing the Wide Receivers of the New Orleans Saints

Currently, the interest in Drew Brees for 2015 Fantasy Football leagues is about as equal as the demand for Pokemon cards.

After making an attempt to sell the treasures of my fifth-grade self, I can tell you that the sentimental market is flourishing, but the actual demand remains low. Similar to Pokemon cards, Brees’ value will be more on the sentimental side entering this season.

The plan for the Saints in 2015 is to focus on the rushing attack, with Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller creating a committee approach. Gone are the days of Brees just chucking it down the field to an open(or not open) Jimmy Graham, who forever has spoiled his previous Fantasy owners in respect to the tight end position.  You will still find that player in your league who believes the 36-year old quarterback is the same guy who posted a 46-touchdown season in 2011, but the majority of Fantasy players accept Brees’ best days are behind him. That is why you can still find him hanging around in Round 5.

Ingram and Spiller can’t run the ball the entire game, however, so there are wide receivers in New Orleans who still hold value in Fantasy Football leagues. I’ll review who you should focus on for you 2015 Fantasy Football leagues, and who you should leave alone.

Brandin Cooks

Even with Graham and Kenny Stills in the lineup, Cooks carved a nice role for himself in the offense. He wasn’t an exact replacement for Darren Sproles, but he was able to finish 2014 with 505 receiving yards, 73 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Cooks hurt his thumb and didn’t play past Week 10, but there was a lot to like about the young receiver.

A receiver like Kelvin Benjamin has an easier time inserting himself into an offense (6-foot-5, 240 pounds), but it can take time for a smaller receiver like Cooks (5-foot-10, 189 pounds) to find a role. Tavon Austin has a similar skill set and build to Cooks, but the coaching staff has yet to find an effective way to utilize his talents.

Cooks didn’t have that issue, however, as he hauled in seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 of the 2014 season. The Saints knew what they had with the 21-year old receiver and set him to work. For PPR leagues, Cooks averaged 5.3 receptions per game in the 10 games that he did play, and there is a good chance he will receiver even more looks in 2015.

The young playmaker is currently a fourth-round draft pick on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, and I think that’s a fair place to select him. Cooks offers Fantasy owners several perks as he not only has involvement in the passing attack, but he can rush the ball a few times each game as well. With an average of 7.3 rushing yards per carry, Cooks will find you points in the air and on the ground.

Marques Colston

While not the source of Fantasy success that he once was, Colston is still finding actual success on the football field. Outside of 2008 where the veteran only played in 11 games, Colston has secured 900 receiving yards in every season that he has played 14 or more games.

Will that win you a Fantasy championship? No, but you could do worse when it comes to a bench spot. In standard scoring leagues, Colston finished 2014 with nine games of seven or more points. He also has the benefit of facing a weak NFC South, and since being a veteran on a team establishing a new identity, Colston will be relied on for a smooth transition. The 32-year old wide receiver is not a PPR juggernaut, however, so his main value depends on his receiving yards and touchdown production.

After offering to take a paycut, the veteran will probably finish his career in New Orleans. He’s currently an 11th-round pick on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, and that is a great spot to land a backup receiver. You don’t want to rely on him as a starter, but he can serve in a pinch for bye weeks and injuries.

Nick Toon

Spotting sleepers and opportunity in Fantasy Football is really about planning for the worst-case scenario. What happens if Colston is hampered by underproduction or injury? This could open up a prime spot for Toon to earn Fantasy relevancy.

Used sparingly since 2013, Toon is a nice target at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds. From his draft profile, there are several reasons why you would want to consider him for your 2015 Fantasy Football league.

  • Solid route running
  • Excellent mid-range receiver
  • Strong blocking skills in the run game
  • A go-to receiver to pick up the first down

For a veteran quarterback facing an uphill battle against Father Time, it’s good to know that a receiver has a strong command of his routes. If Brees expects a receiver to be somewhere, he better be there. If Brees’ arm strength isn’t what it used to be, he will need to focus on shorter routes to move the ball. With being praised as an excellent-mid range receiver, Toon fits the role. He doesn’t have tremendous speed to being with, but the Saints aren’t looking to burn defenders deep like in previous seasons. A few short receptions can quickly add up in a PPR league.

With such an emphasis on the rushing attack, it’s also important to know that Toon was praised for his blocking skills. This means Toon will be on the field more, which can lead to increased opportunities. Zach Ertz lost time to Brent Celek because he had issues blocking, and Knowshon Moreno gained such a large role with the Denver Broncos because he could block better than Montee Ball. I understand that these are different positions and have different aspects than wide receiver, but even if it’s just for one play, coaches needs to trust that their player can protect the quarterback.

Whether Colston loses a role in the offense for whatever reason or Toon is able to emerge on his own merits, I think he’s worth a target in late rounds for deeper leagues.

Jack Delaney is the owner of Your Fantasy Football Coach. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to check out his new ebook The Smart Fantasy Football Investor: 2015 Edition to start preparing for your 2015 Fantasy Football draft.

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