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Player Faceoff: QB Drew Brees, New Orleans

Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Drew Brees

The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.

High Side: Devin Knotts

Drew Brees is heading into his 17th season as an NFL player and is coming off of a tremendous 2016 where he showed no signs of slowing down. Brees last season ranked second in completion percentage, first in passing yards, and first in passing attempts. This is a quarterback who continues to show that he has no signs of slowing down. Brees represents everything that you could ask for in a fantasy quarterback as you not only want a high scoring player at the highest scoring position, but you want high scoring consistently. Last season, Brees finished in the top five of fantasy points for quarterbacks six times which ranked him second behind Aaron Rodgers and tied with Russell Wilson and Tom Brady. However, where Brees separates himself is consistency. Brees has thrown for 4,870 yards or more in each of his last six seasons and has thrown for 32 or more touchdowns in each of his last nine seasons.

Some of the offseason moves the Saints did this offseason are causing Brees to be had at a discount heading into this season. The Saints lost their leading receiver in Brandin Cooks in a trade to the Patriots, and have added Adrian Peterson which has some cause for concern that the Saints will have more of a balanced attack from a rushing standpoint. However, Adrian Peterson is no longer Adrian Peterson that we have become used to and can be used in short yardage situations to keep the offense on the field. The Saints had the luxury of trading Brandin Cooks after Michael Thomas had a breakout rookie season and the addition of Ted Ginn Jr Jr should force the defense to keep their safeties back to prevent the long pass due to Ginn’s speed. Also helping the passing attack this season is that Coby Fleener is heading into his second season in this offense where he had a down season last year but a full offseason should help Brees as he relies on production from the tight end as we have seen with previous tight ends such as Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson.

The final benefit of taking Brees is the schedule heading into the 2017 season. For most leagues, the playoffs are weeks 14,15, and 16 and Brees has the luxury of being in a dome in each of those three games and two of those games are against the Falcons who allowed the fifth most passing yards in 2016. Brees in a dome is a different player than when he is playing outside as throughout his career his average in a dome is 312.3 passing yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game compared to just 251.6 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game outdoors. This is a tremendous benefit knowing that you will get Brees in a dome when other quarterbacks have a risk of playing their championship games in bad weather in the most important weeks of the year.

Low Side: David Dodds

The New Orleans Saints have attempted 674, 667, and 659 pass attempts the last three years. It's been the most imbalanced pass/rush combination in the league by a wide margin. Drew Brees rode those 674 pass attempts in 2016 to the #2 QB fantasy ranking. But despite all of these pass attempts, Drew Brees has managed just seven wins a year each of the last three seasons. Drew Brees has also been significantly worse as a passer in losses (22.6 FP/game) vs wins (26.8 FP/game).

In an effort to change their run/pass balance and get back to winning football games, the Saints added future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson and committed to bolstering their offensive line through free agency and the draft (adding guard Larry Wolford from Detroit and drafting tackle Ryan Ramczyk with their 1st-round pick). They did this at the expense of losing dynamic wide receiver Brandin Cooks while adding just veteran wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr (a big net loss).

Entering his 17th season as a pro, Brees will start the season at 38 years old. He hasn't shown any real sign of slowing down, but let's not dismiss that he's no spring chicken either. He is getting drafted as the third quarterback off the board which usually occurs in the third round. Seeing how Philip Rivers and Eli Manning can be had around pick 100 (6+ rounds after Drew Brees), I see no compelling reason to chase last year's stats and draft a 38-year-old quarterback whose front office wants the team to run the ball more.