The running backs – Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas & Chris Ivory
The Saints are a passing team with a lot of running backs who will occasionally make plays. In other words, the player who is going to see the most time and likely the only one worth owning is Sproles (unless you are in a deeper format).
Sproles’ impact in the running game was minimal in 2011, running the ball just 87 times. He had incredible big play ability, however, averaging 6.9 yards per carry and amassing 603 yards. I am not sure we can expect that type of production once again, or if we can expect him to increase his rushing TD (he had two).
That said, Sproles is going to be a force in the passing game. He had 86 receptions for 710 yards and 7 TD a year ago and, with Drew Brees at the helm and a spread out attack in place, there’s a good chance he comes reasonably close to those numbers once again.
He is viable as a low-end RB2 (and as even more in PPR formats), though I’d rather have him as my FLEX option. Given how much New Orleans spreads the ball around, there is the risk of a few games of little output.
The next back inline may depend on Ingram’s health. However, I’m not sure we can expect Ingram or Thomas to get enough carries or targets to be worth considering in any format (barring an injury). Thomas clearly had the better season (987 total yards and 6 TD), but he is also 27-years old and Ingram is likely the future for the team. Consider both of these high risk options in the later rounds of your draft, but if everyone is healthy neither is likely to make enough noise to justify playing on a regular basis.
As for Ivory, he’s left in the dark at this point. On another team it’s possible he would get enough playing time and make an impact. In New Orleans he’s the fourth back in a passing offense. Does that really sound like something that should interest us?
What are your thoughts of the Saints backfield? Who is worth owning? Would you draft anyone but Sproles?
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: