Fantasy Football: Breaking down the New Orleans Saints

• Inside the Locker Room

With Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Will there be a lead running back in 2011, or do you expect another committee?
I expect Mark Ingram to become the primary ball-carrier — eventually. You don’t trade two high draft picks for a running back to sit him on the bench. He’s definitely the future back in New Orleans. How long that takes depends on his ability to pick up the Saints’ complex passing attack. Running backs don’t play in Sean Payton’s offense if they can’t protect the passer. But he should be a quick study.

Is Lance Moore the definite No. 2 option at receiver, or could Robert Meachem see more targets this season?
Moore is unquestionably the No. 2 option. He’s one of the most underrated receivers in the league and one of Drew Brees’ go-to targets on third down. There’s no reason he won’t duplicate his numbers from 2010: 66 catches, 763 yards, eight touchdowns.

Jimmy Graham is shooting up fantasy draft boards as the sleeper tight end. How will he handle the role of a full-time starter?
Graham added 10-15 pounds of muscle in the offseason in preparation for his increased role and appears primed for a breakout season. He says that the extra weight is all muscle and will not handicap his elite speed. If so, he figures to have a huge year and could challenge Marques Colston for the club lead in touchdown receptions.

• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @TEN, @MIN, ATL
Get it while you can in that opening round against a Titans team that ranked 22nd vs. QBs, 19th vs. RBs, 26th vs. TEs and 23rd vs. WRs in fantasy points allowed. The Vikings are a little tougher with the sixth-best fantasy run D, 16th vs. QBs and 13th vs. WRs. The Falcons game could be a tough title round for Saints owners as their fantasy points allowed were 12th-best vs. QBs and fifth-best vs. RBs (but 28th against WRs).

• Athlon Best Bets
Jimmy Graham, TE
Deep-Sleeper: Robert Meachem, WR
Overvalued: Marques Colston, WR
Top Rookie: Mark Ingram, RB
Bounce-Back: Saints D/ST
Top IDP: Roman Harper, DB

• Try to Avoid
Chris Ivory, RB

With the Saints drafting Mark Ingram, who will likely step into the starting role, Pierre Thomas returning from injury and the acquisition of Darren Sproles, it doesn’t seem like there will be enough touches for Ivory to be relevant 

• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Acquiring a second first-round pick was costly, but drafting Ingram could be the missing piece to New Orleans’ run at the Super Bowl. The Saints have several options returning on the depth chart, but Ingram should take over as the top back and gives the offense a true 20-25-carry option every week. Ingram should be the top rookie selected in redraft leagues. He was the only offensive player selected, and the rest of the incoming rookies should help bolster an already solid defense.

More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Exclude From Games: 
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