What if Drew Brees is lost for the season?
By Chris Smith
August 16th, 2012

Is there a more important quarterback to his team heading into the 2012 season? Drew Brees has thrown for at least 4388 yards in six straight seasons, a statistic that is truly remarkable. He has thrown for 28394 passing yards over that span, completed almost 68 percent of his throws and tossed 201 touchdowns. That is a season for most NFL quarterbacks and Brees accomplished it in six short seasons. We haven't really seen how the Saints offense would run without Brees under center. He has only missed one game with the franchise and that came in the Super Bowl winning season of 2009 when he rested in the final game of the season. In that game, the Saints managed just 102 passing yards with Mark Brunell tossing the ball but that was a meaningless game for the Saints and nothing really can be taken from that game.

If Brees is lost for the season, The Saints passing attacks folds like a cheap tent as Brees is the catalyst to the success.

BUY

Mark Ingram, RB Without Brees, Chase Daniel, undrafted quarterback from Missouri would be forced into the lineup. He has thrown just 8 passes for 45 yards as an NFL player. The Saints would have to move to a run-focused philosophy or Daniel will get eaten alive. Mark Ingram is the most intriguing option to carry the load for the Saints based on his age, skill set and athleticism. It wouldn't be a huge shock to see Ingram elevate up to 20 carries per game under this scenario and he is a player that may get better as his total touches elevates. With other owners panicking with the loss of Brees, it would be a great time to land Ingram on your roster.

Darren Sproles, RB A young, inexperienced quarterback such as Chase Daniel is likely to focus on quick, underneath pass routes and the diminutive, talented pass catching running back Darren Sproles is one of the best in the NFL at running those routes. While Drew Brees will spread the ball all over the field, Daniel will not have the patience and vision of Brees and Sproles will often become the first option for the quarterback.

HOLD

Jimmy Graham, TE This is a tough call in this scenario as obviously Drew Brees helps to make Graham the fantasy force he is. However just like mentioned earlier with Darren Sproles, an inexperienced quarterback is going to lock onto certain targets. One of those will be the pass receiving running back and the other will be Jimmy Graham who is a beast to cover due to his blend of size and quickness. It is unlikely somebody in a fantasy league is going to make a big push to trade for Graham with Drew Brees out for the season so he becomes a HOLD player by default. His statistics will probably fall 10-15% without Brees in there.

Pierre Thomas, RB His production should be almost identical no matter who is under center. He will still get his 8 to 10 touches maximum per game and his fantasy value is average. He is ok as a RB5 or RB6 for a fantasy team no matter who is under the center.

SELL

Marques Colston, WR There is no question that the receiver production in New Orleans will go way down if Brees is lost due to injury. In fact, it is plausible that 60 percent or more of the receptions and yardage by the receivers vanishes if the Saints are forced to go with Daniel under center. While the other receivers do not have enough fantasy value to make them a viable trading option, the past production and talent of Colston does give this owner some trading clout as long as he doesn't expect a ton in return. Colston is really sitting on the HOLD / SELL fence as it depends what owners in the league are willing to give up to acquire him. If no trade makes sense, Colston becomes a HOLD option but he will have production similar to a WR4 or WR5 on a fantasy team at best. He is currently projected at 79 receptions for 1,043 yards and 8 touchdowns. If Brees had a season-ending injury, Colston would maybe finish with 50 receptions for 600 yards and 3 touchdowns.

ADD

Chase Daniel, QB Daniel is not Drew Brees or anywhere close but he has some athleticism. The Saints have some good offensive weapons, and Daniel may serve as a backup fantasy quarterback for a fantasy team.

DROP

Devery Henderson, WR Possibly, Henderson is known enough in fantasy leagues to warrant a minor trade but only if the fantasy football owner is extremely casual and doesn't really follow past performance. Henderson in all honesty is barely on the fantasy map WITH Drew Brees passing the ball. Without him, Henderson has little to no fantasy worth.

Lance Moore, WR He has become a reliable target of Drew Brees who is confident that Moore will be in the right place at the right time. However the change of quarterback would prove to be disastrous for Moore's production and it is very unlikely an owner will be willing to make a trade to acquire him if Brees is lost.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to smith@footballguys.com.

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