My girlfriend makes the best food. Not an opinion, simply a fact. And I’m guessing you have a similar person in your life. It’s not just her best dishes that taste good; it is essentially anything she cooks. Heck, I’m fairly confident that takeout Chinese food tastes better when she’s around. I don’t get it and I don’t question it.
Why do I bring this seemingly nonsensical story up you ask? Comfort. I’m comfortable when she is in charge of meals and trust that no matter what she does the results will be greater than if I had done it on my own. Welcome to the well known “Saints Outdoor Syndrome” and the New Orleans Saints.
What? You haven’t heard of such a thing in Fantasy Sports? Well, whose fault is that? For the uninformed, “SOS” is actually the fear of not having a roof over your head and the entire Saints offense suffers from it.
New Orleans has numerous weapons that are physically gifted and immensely talented, but their Fantasy stock never tastes quite the same unless they are playing inside. The disappointing loss to the Browns (Dog Pounds are never inside, how Vegas didn’t lose a boatload of money is beyond me, this was a SOS classic) is the latest example, but it is by no means the only time we have seen this loaded offense underwhelm when they take their talents to the grass. But owners of Saints players are in luck … there is a maximum of one SOS flair up over the next 2.5 months! Here’s a little bit of what you can expect in the coming nine weeks and why you should stop at nothing to stack as many Saints on your team as possible and as soon as possible.
Starting on Sunday, the Saints play seven of their next eight (including each of their next four) games indoors. Yes, please. Over the last three seasons in which Sean Payton has been calling the plays, Drew Brees is completing 72.4 percent of his passes when playing inside (as opposed to 66.1 percent outside). The increased completion percentage is nice given the Saints’ pass-happy approach and the fact that they will be without their leading rusher for at least a month.
But wait, there’s more.
Not only is Brees completing a higher percentage of his passes, those passes are doing considerably more damage. When comparing his indoor and outdoor numbers over that same period of time, we find that he averages 17.8 percent more yards per pass attempt and … wait for it … 285.7 percent more touchdowns per interception!
As you’d expect, those passes have been going to Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. Since the beginning of last season, the veteran wide receiver is averaging 5.8 catches for 79.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns when comfortable inside, numbers that dip to 2.7 catches for 29.8 yards and zero touchdowns when suffering from SOS. In fact, he hasn’t reached paydirt in a Fantasy relevant contest played outside with Sean Payton coaching since December 11, 2011. Yea, it’s been a while. As for the Pro Bowl tight end, he is the most weather proof of all Saints, but even Graham isn’t able to overcome the impact of outdoors. Over the last three seasons, he is averaging one touchdown every 6.6 receptions inside, a number that swells by 44.7 percent when there is no roof.
But wait, there’s more.
Over this favorable stretch of games is a bye week. GOLD. Brees has been kinda sorta good after a week off over the last five years (averaging 365 passing yards, 4.3 touchdowns, and 0.6 interceptions while completing 70.9 percent of his passes), a trend that greatly benefits all involved. He hasn’t thrown for fewer than 332 yards in one of those games … plenty of footballs to go around.
With Mark Ingram (broken hand) out and the Saints a good bet to pile up the points, both Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson are going to have value well above what they have produced up to this point. But which one is the one you want? I’ll take my bias out of it and simply evaluate what we have seen. Thomas and Robinson have combined for 24 carries, the exact same number that Ingram has accounted for through two weeks. Both are going to see an uptick in involvement, but the fact that Thomas has been on the field roughly 2.5-times as often as Robinson; he is a good bet to get the first crack at it. Also worth noting is that Thomas had 69 more carries than any other Saints RB last year, in addition to leading all running backs in receptions, while Robinson recorded just one more carry than pass-catching specialist Darren Sproles.
These are not fool-proof plans for getting your hands on members of the Saints offense but they are a good place to start. I do want to reiterate that I think it is borderline impossible to overpay for these players given their slow starts to the 2014 season. Buy in now and thank me later.
How to acquire Drew Brees:
- Sell high on Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers
- Trade Peyton Manning – I know this is blasphemy, but you should be able to land Brees and another asset. It’s very much within the realm of possibility that Brees out produces Manning over this stretch, making this sort of deal very advantageous.
How to acquire Marques Colston
- Trade Cordarrelle Patterson, Emmanuel Sanders, Percy Harvin, or Mike Wallace – given the combination of upside and youth among these players, you may be able to land Colston-plus in a trade. I’ve got Colston as a Top 15 receiver over the next 10 weeks, but you won’t need to pay near that price.
- Sell high on Steve Smith Sr., James Jones, or Harry Douglas.
How to acquire Jimmy Graham
- Sell high on veterans Antonio Gates or Greg Olsen in a package deal
- Center a deal around an elite receiver (Jordy Nelson or Antonio Brown for example) and include a starting level tight end for Graham and an underachieving WR you like (Marques Colston would fit this mold along with Golden Tate, Reggie Wayne, Keenan Allen, or even Vincent Jackson).
How to acquire Pierre Thomas
- Cash in on an owner fretting over a starting running back by using a handcuff (Knile Davis being the prime example) as leverage.
- Sell high on Darren Sproles – I would rather have Thomas than Frank Gore and both members of the Bucs/Patriots committees.