With the acquisition of tight end Jeremy Shockey, the Saints look to run one of the more high-powered offenses in the NFL. Not only does the trade for Shockey put smiles on the faces of the faithful in the Big Easy, it also brings more joy to fantasy owners who have the Saints' other offensive weapons on their roster.
Let's examine the Saints roster from a fantasy perspective.
Drew Brees has been widely considered one of the best fantasy signal callers during the past couple of seasons, and this season is no exception. Brees heads into 2008 coming off back-to-back 4,000+ yard seasons. Also, he has tossed a minimum of 24 touchdowns during the past four seasons.
Shockey gives Brees another option to look for in the end zone. In the past, teams have had to worry about the fade pass to 6'4" wide receiver Marques Colston. Now, opposing defenses will have to account for a proven tight end over the middle.
The unquestioned top target in New Orleans' attack is Marques Colston. The former seventh-round pick surely has justified a pay raise as he enters 2008 in the last year of his rookie contract.
Colston was near the top of the NFL last year with 98 receptions. He also had 11 touchdowns and a second straight 1,000-yard season.
With the arrival of Jeremy Shockey, Colston may give up a few receptions but nothing else. Expect Colston to make more big plays and to surpass his 12.3-yard per catch average from last season and have another double-digit touchdown season.
Right now, this position is a perceived weakness in the Saints' offense. Deuce McAllister is coming off a second, major knee injury in the past three seasons. Reggie Bush's ability to translate his college success to the pro level has been questioned, and his statistics took a dip in his second season.
Deuce is a very talented back, but as mentioned earlier, he is returning from a devastating injury. He is also approaching his 30th birthday. Recently, running backs such as Shaun Alexander and Ahman Green have hit a wall near their 30th birthdays. Deuce's best days are likely behind him.
Bush's ability, and willingness, to run inside have been criticized throughout his short two-year career. It doesn't help that he suffered injuries throughout 2007 and the offensive line has not consistently opened up lanes for him to run through.
Shockey can open up holes for Bush and the rest of the running backs as a pass-receiving threat. Opposing linebackers and safeties now must account for a tight end that can make plays.
Obviously, Jeremy Shockey is the man to consider at this position. No other tight end on the Saints' roster comes close to matching his production.
Drew Brees is one of the best at finding mismatches in the secondary and hitting the open receiver. Look for Brees to exploit the mismatches that Shockey presents over the middle for easy scores.
Very few fantasy owners started the New Orleans defense last season, and with good reason. While the rush-defense ranked a respectable 13th in the NFL, that may be skewed by the fact that teams could throw for big plays at will against the secondary.
The pass defense allowed 15 plays of 40 or more yards and 32 touchdowns in 2007.
Improvements may be on the way for the Saints' defense. They traded for Jonathan Vilma to patrol the middle, signed DE Bobby McCray and CB Randall Gay, and drafted DT Sedrick Ellis and CB Terry Porter to bolster the defense.
Buyer beware. While the defensive talent surely has improved, this group has yet to prove how well they can play together in defensive coordinator Gary Gibb's system.
A traditionally reliable position for the Saints, dating back to Morten Anderson and continued with John Carney. However, Olindo Mare was nothing short of a disaster in 2007.
He hit on only 10 of 17 field goals before being replace by Martin Gramatica for the final three games.
Gramatica hit all five of his field goals, including a 55-yarder against the Eagles.
The Saints drafted Taylor Mehlhaff to compete with Gramatica for the starting job.
Fantasy players outside of Louisiana may have not heard of second-year running back Pierre Thomas. In limited action last season, Thomas average 4.8 yards per carry and scored a touchdown both rushing and receiving. During his lone start, he managed over 100-yards rushing and receiving against the Bears at Soldier Field.
If Deuce shows signs of wear and tear during the season, look for Thomas to become the feature back in New Orleans.