Drew Brees entered the 2015 Fantasy Football season as a 36-year old quarterback, and he also entered the season without Jimmy Graham.
Naturally, players were cautious about drafting him.
So last season, it was especially difficult to know exactly what to expect out of Brees. The brass in New Orleans indicated that they didn’t want to have their veteran quarterback just chuck the ball down field all day, and there was supposed to be a bigger emphasis placed on the rushing attack.
That didn’t happen, however, as the offense finished with 327 fewer rushing yards in 2015 than in 2014. Meanwhile, Brees attempted the second-most passes in the NFL last season.
Brees will now enter his 16th season with mostly the same supporting cast he had in 2015.
He’s currently being drafted at the end of Round 6. Does that make him a bargain? Or is Brees being valued fairly?
Let’s take a look at how his 2015 Fantasy Football season played out…
2015 Fantasy Football Review: Drew Brees
Between 2008-2010, Brees averaged 33 touchdown passes per season. Then his numbers jumped between 2011-2013, where he averaged 42 touchdown passes per season.
He threw 33 touchdown passes in 2014 and 32 in 2015, which is closer to his average from 2008-2010.
I mention these numbers because Brees’ stats were greatly inflated from just one game. If it wasn’t for his performance in Week 8 against the New York Giants, we could have seen a massive decline in Brees’ touchdown production.
Here are Brees stats from Week 8:
Passing Attempts: 50
If you take away that insane performance, Brees averaged just 1.7 touchdown passes per game. He only played in 15 games last season, so if you extrapolate that average throughout a 16-game season, Brees would have only thrown 27 touchdown passes in 2015.
It is still notable, though, that Brees did finish the 2015 Fantasy Football season with 10 games of 300 or more passing yards. He also had the most passing yards in the NFL last year.
I can’t envision Brees’ passing attempts drastically falling in 2016 (barring injury or issues with age).
But that one game with seven touchdown passes really concerns me. If he’s only on pace for 1.7 touchdown passes per game in 2016 like he was in 2015, what is the likelihood that he can throw six or seven touchdowns in one game to boost his average again?
Drew Brees 2016 Fantasy Football Weapons
As I previously mentioned, the supporting cast around Brees hasn’t drastically changed.
Marques Colston was released in February, but the 2015 season proved his best days were behind him. The coaching staff hopes Brandon Coleman (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) can be Colston’s replacement.
Since he caught 84 passes last year, I don’t think there is a ton of room for Brandin Cooks to improve upon his stats. But, he will still be a very solid WR2 for PPR players.
He averaged 5.25 per catches per game last season. I would be worried about that potential decline in touchdown passes from Brees that I mentioned earlier, as a lot of Cook’s value was tied to his nine touchdown catches last year (Cooks tied several players for the sixth-most touchdown receptions in the NFL last season).
Willie Snead seemingly came out of nowhere last season, and the 23-year old receiver was just 16 yards shy of hauling in 1,000 yards. Brees relied heavily on Snead in Weeks 5, 14 and 15. He’s not going to lead the team in receptions each week, but he is a great player to stash on an MFL 10 lineup for when he does go off.
Veteran tight end Ben Watson won’t be back this season, but Brees won’t complain about the signing of Coby Fleener. Although his blocking and protection skills have always been questioned, the Saints are comfortable with what they have in Fleener.
If the Saints use him just like Graham, he will far exceed his seventh-round price tag.
Brees also has a solid set of pass-catching backs in his arsenal. After setting a career high in catches in 2013 (145), Mark Ingram increased his reception totals (405) by 179%. He also has strong pass-catching options in Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller.
Drew Brees: 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
It’s true that you shouldn’t solely make a decision based on strength of schedule (SoS). But SCOUT’s 2016 Fantasy Strength of Schedule is a great tool that helps you make a more informed decision.
In 2016 Fantasy Football leagues, Brees has the second-toughest Fantasy schedule for quarterbacks. Again, you shouldn’t base your entire decision on drafting the veteran based on that metric, but it’s good to know his season won’t be a cakewalk.
I think Brees has solid weapons, and the team will be really balanced if Ingram can stay heathy. Once again, the major concern surrounding Brees is his touchdown production.
It’s not a reach to believe he will finish as a top-five quarterback in 2016 Fantasy Football leagues. If you don’t want to spend an early pick on a quarterback and want to try (key word is try because nothing is guaranteed) and play it safe, you should target Brees in Round 6.
Just be aware his touchdown totals were inflated last season, and his touchdown totals have dropped every year since 2011.