Spotlight: Marques Colston

posted by Mike Brown on Jun 7th


Mike Brown's thoughts

Marques Colston is one of the more physically gifted talents to play the wide receiver position. He entered the league to much fanfare in 2006 (not to mention a fair bit of controversy as to whether he should count in fantasy leagues as a tight end or a wide receiver). The fact that the 6'4", 223 lb Colston was thought of as a tight end initially demonstrates just what kind of a physical specimen he is. The seventh rounder out of Hofstra took the league by storm, with touchdowns in three of his first four games and a string of 100-yard performances in the middle of the season. Fans were eager to find out in 2007 whether that performance was legit or a fluke.

It wasn't a fluke.

Colston followed up a smashingly successful rookie season with an even better sophomore campaign, tallying over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns on nearly 100 receptions en route to finishing as the number eight wide receiver in fantasy football. While he took a step back in an injury-plagued 2008, he still managed a career-best 16.2 yards per reception. He also closed out the year with over 300 yards and four touchdowns over his final three games, suggesting he was fully healthy and ready to roll in 2009.

However, heading into the 2009 season there was a rather large question mark surrounding Colston. He had played with a small hole in his knee that required offseason "microfracture" surgery. Suddenly, it was questioned whether he'd be ready for the season. And if he was, would he retain the same explosiveness he had before. How would it impact the Saints as a whole? In short, everything came together perfectly -- not only for Colston individually but for the Saints as a whole.

By now, unless you've been living under a rock you are aware that the Saints won the Super Bowl. Colston played a huge role in getting the team there. He played a full 16-game schedule and capped his season with a seven-catch performance in the Super Bowl against the Colts. While the Saints certainly employed a philosophy of getting the ball to whomever was open, the main beneficiary was clearly Colston, who returned to his 2007 form.

Positives

  • Is the number one receiving option on one of the most historically dominant passing offenses in league history
  • Consistently scores touchdowns. While the yardage may fluctuate from game-to-game, the touchdowns are always there. That helps maintain a consistent scoring total even when he's not getting regular looks
  • He isn't a one-trick pony. Colston goes over the middle just as well as he snags comeback routes just as well as he gets past the last defender for bombs just as well as he makes leaping jump-ball receptions in the end zone

Negatives

  • Competes for receptions with a host of other outstanding receivers for New Orleans, including those out of the backfield. That limits his upside and keeps him just out of the league's elite
  • Had microfracture surgery a little over a year ago on his knee. He has also missed parts of two other seasons due to injury, and suffered a shoulder injury in college that knocked his draft stock down
  • He is constantly drafted highly, and this year is no exception. With an ADP of 28, he's being selected as a borderline WR1 when in reality he's probably closer to a very good WR2 for fantasy teams. He just doesn't get enough work to warrant making him your number one

Final thoughts

There's little reason to expect Colston's numbers to take a drastic dive downward, assuming health. There have been no reports on any new Colston injuries, so we've got to think he's in better shape entering this year than he was a season ago (when he was rehabbing his knee).

The emergence of Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson as reliable downfield receiving threats for the Saints, not to mention RB Reggie Bush's sudden red zone prowess, may help keep Colston's numbers relatively depressed. Ironically, the offense he plays for is actually too good. If the talent around him was a little bit worse, he might be leaned on more heavily. As it stands, there's almost always someone open on this squad so there is no reason to force feed one particular player the football like you'll see on some other teams.

Colston's teammates and the New Orleans scheme may prevent him from vaulting into the league's elite once again, but he looks like a safe bet to be a borderline number one/solid number two receiving option once again. If all he does is keep doing what he's been doing for his first four years in the league, you'll be able to pencil in a guy who's as consistent as they come and not have to worry about him - and I think we're all aware of just how valuable that can be - not only for our stat lines, but for our blood pressure and heart rates as well.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

frogpond11 said:

As a Saints homer, I agree with what most seem to be saying here...the abundance of options in this passing game keeps any 1 player from being a true star..but Brees has been quoted many times saying he loves to target Colston in the redzone because of how sure-handed he is about catching the football. So I think Colston's TD numbers should be quite good..but the plethora of options keeps Colston from being "elite". Lance Moore back healthy(under-rated player), Meachem's emergence, Henderson is a great deep threat and gets targets here and there, Bush gets a ton of targets out of the backfield, Pierre catches quite a few screens himself, and then you still have Shockey and other TEs that Brees likes to throw to as well. That being said, I do still like Colston a lot.

rzrback77 said:

I struggle with projections for Marques Colston every year because the Saints have so many weapons and I keep thinking that they will utilize the running game more. Their defense was much better in 09 and I anticipate another year of improvement for that side of the ball. A quick look at the previous three year's team stats:

07 - 443 of 655 passing 67.6% 4428 yds 6.8 ypa 28 TDs 18 ints with 394 runs 1505 yds 3.82 ypc and 14 TDs
08 - 413 of 635 passing 65.0% 5069 yds 8.0 ypa 34 TDs 17 ints with 398 runs 1594 yds 4.00 ypc and 20 TDs
09 - 378 of 544 passing 69.5% 4490 yds 8.3 ypa 34 TDs 12 ints with 467 runs 2115 yds 4.53 ypc and 21 TDs

Well, I am shocked by the improved attempts and success running the ball in 09 compared to 08. I would not be at all surprised to see that trend continue. The passing efficiency numbers for percentage, yards per attempt and TDs have just been outstanding two years in a row. In 2010, it would not be surprising if some of those numbers fell slightly just because of how high they have been.

I really think that Reggie Bush was healthier at the end of 09 and was running the ball better than ever. Pierre Thomas is a very good running back. They lost Bell to free agency, but those two and Hamilton can easily surpass last year's production.

Colston is an outstanding receiver, but there are so many options in New Orleans. Meachem continues to develop, Henderson always seems to connect on several bombs throughout the year, and Lance Moore is much better than he is given credit for. The Saints also now have three very good receiving TEs on their roster, so I do not expect Colston to be heavily targeted. Last season, he played all 16 games, but had only one where he was targeted over ten times, compared to five games in 08, and seven in 07. He had seven games (almost half) where he had six or fewer targets, which is not really what you are looking for in a highly drafted WR. His current ADP is WR 10 and 25 overall. I would like to see more targets for that guy on my fantasy team.

cstu said:

Colston has a really nice floor as long as he's healthy - 70/1000/8. Not a lot of upside but he's a good safe pick and there's always a chance he hits 90 catches again.


Marques Colston projections

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