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2011 New Orleans Saints Fantasy Football Preview

Can Marvelous Meachem Produce Magic?

1. The Saints, who haven’t had a dominant running back in several years, used their first round pick on Mark Ingram.  What kind of workload do you see for Ingram this season?  And what kind of numbers do you see him putting up?

Ingram’s workload will be quite extensive despite the presence of Pierre Thomas and association with a pass-happy system.  Sean Payton gives the keys to Drew Brees, and more often than not, Brees dials up plays via the air.  With that said, I still believe the Alabama product will thrive during his rookie campaign because he’s running behind the best interior line in football.  20 touches a game isn’t beyond the imagination; even 20-plus is within reach.  I envision Mark going for over a grand on the ground and producing double-digits touchdowns.  It’s no stretch to expect Ingram to become a top-10 back by season’s end.  Keep in mind, both his backfield mates possess durability issues.  Honestly, I would draft Ingram as high as mid-third.

2. Marques Colston has been nursing a knee injury early this preseason making fantasy owners a bit nervous.  Should we have any reason to question Colston’s status on opening day?  Do you think he’ll be limited at all this season with that knee injury?

I wouldn’t question Colston’s status because he dealt with the same scenario last season and generated 15 games worth of No. 2 fantasy receiver-level (over 1,000 yards, 7 TD’s) play.  Frankly, the Saints are preserving Brees’ top pass catcher for the regular season by carefully monitoring his knee.  Simply put, it’s just a precautionary measure; so confidently go ahead and target Colston around the late-fifth round in your draft.

3. A guy I really like coming into 2011 is Jimmy Graham.  It seems he can line up anywhere on the field and make big plays.  Do you share my optimism that he’s going to take the next step and become one of the league’s best Tight Ends?

Jimmy Graham is a rising tight end prospect; borderline top-10 material.  He has the talent to contribute among the elite, but the Saints spread the ball around too much for him to be put in that category production-wise.  Soon enough, you will see him hauling in 7-8 scores a campaign, but until then, calmly reserve hope.

4. With Reggie Bush now in Miami, the Saints brought in Darren Sproles to theoretically play pretty much the same role.  Is Sproles going to be much of a contributor?  And where will Pierre Thomas and Christopher Ivory, who did show us some flashes of talent last season, fit into the crowded Saints backfield?

Sproles will not be much of a fantasy factor in New Orleans.  He wasn’t in San Diego, so what’s the difference?  As for Thomas and Ivory, I like the latter’s potential and the former’s ability to catch passes.  Yet, you have to wonder if Ivory will ever stay healthy (out three weeks, sports hernia), as he’s starting to resemble Ronnie Brown.  Truthfully, the same also could be said for Thomas, who’s dealing with a nagging (85% healthy) ankle injury.  Given the current status of Thomas and Ivory, “Tiny” Darren could steal some touches, but I don’t see him doing much in his first season with the Saints.   

5. Assuming Colston leads the Saints in receiving, who do you think will have the second best numbers out of the Saints’ receiving corps?

We’ve all been waiting for Robert Meachem.  During his second year playing on Sundays, the former Tennessee Volunteer excited us with nine trips to pay dirt; only to disappoint us with only five visits to the end zone the following season.  Whether it be health concerns or consistency issues, Meachem has been rather hit or miss.  Call me crazy, I think this is the year he finally “arrives.”  Lance Moore is the “safe” pick to be the No. 2 guy next to Colston, but I believe Meachem when he said, “[I’m] finally healthier than I have in the past.”

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