Sproles as a bona fide No.1 fantasy starter and fantastic draft day value in PPR and non-PPR leagues alike in 2012. The Saints were smart enough to make Sproles its free agent priority and match his talents to its offense so they could use his skills far more liberally than the Chargers. With Sean Payton serving a suspension for Bounty Gate, its unlikely New Orleans will veer too much from its past success with Sproles. Why fix what's broken? However, if Sproles breaks down, there Saints will likely resort to what they did pre-Sproles, and that involves multiple backs.
Pierre Thomas, RB – The Saints version of a utility back is the best receiver on the running back depth chart. He's one of the best screen pass receivers in the league and his patient, shifty, and determined style is a boon for draws and delays. Thomas is also good enough to earn looks in the red zone despite the fact that Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram are more powerful. While other owners are scrambling to get the big name of Ingram or the bargain player in Ivory, Thomas will likely be worth his price. Consider a Thomas a great flex play with RB2 upside.
Mark Ingram, RB – Thomas is the safer play, but Ingram is the better talent. If he gets a chance to earn enough carries during drives to get into a rhythm, he can become a player that the Saints consider adjusting its scheme to showcase with more regularity than they would if Sproles were healthy. This is especially true if Robert Meachem's absence is felt more than they anticipated. Ingram is a patient runner with excellent balance and footwork. He's an old-school runner who can take a 20-carry workload. The question is whether he'll get that chance if Sproles goes down. I think he'll split time with Thomas and see short-yardage looks in the red zone. That's enough for flex-play appeal.
Drew Brees, QB – Brees was great before Sproles and he'll still be great without the dynamic runner.
Chris Ivory, RB – There will be at least one owner in every league who thinks he'll outsmart his competition by nabbing Ivory. The former undrafted free agent is a big back with good burst and the skill to become a lead back for several NFL offenses if called upon, including the Saints. However, Ivory will only be a cog in the rotation if Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are healthy. Thomas is the better receiver and the most savvy player of the bunch. Ingram has the most all-around talent. This makes Ivory's role small and it's probably a wise play to get what you can from an owner hoping he can wait on injury to give Ivory that shot.
Chris Ivory, RB – Wait, you just said to sell Chris Ivory. Correct. Now you want us to add him? No. First you add him if he's available as a consolation pick on your waiver wire if you can't get the player(s) you're targeting and then you trade him to that guy who thinks he's going to outsmart your league. Ivory is a talented player and fantasy owners love to stockpile running backs. Get a player you can use in return and it could pay off.
None. The Saints offense is explosive and prolific.
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