So the Saints are a running team now. Swell. That’s great for the Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara owners of the world, but how about the Drew Brees owners out there? Quarterbacks aren’t exactly growing on trees this season.
On average, Brees was the third quarterback drafted in ESPN leagues, but he ranks 11th in QB scoring, coming off a season in which he finished third. Brees hasn’t scored 20 points in a game since Week 3. Owners aren’t getting nearly what they paid for.
Meanwhile, Ingram and Kamara have turned into RB1s, which is almost unheard of on the same team. They took it to a new level Sunday, finishing first and fourth, respectively, in RB scoring for the week.
The Saints have undergone a metamorphosis. Last season, they ranked 19th in rushing attempts per game and second in passes per game. This season, they’re third and 18th. And the change is pushing Brees into unfamiliar territory.
He’s on pace to throw for 4,263 yards and 23 touchdowns, both of which would be his fewest in 12 seasons with the Saints. Such a decline begs the question if there’s more to this than just the success of a running game that ranks third in the league.
Apparently, there is. Before receiver Brandin Cooks was traded to the Patriots in March, he reportedly had been complaining about Brees’ decreasing arm strength. On Sunday, NFL.com reported the Saints have become concerned about it.
This leaves Brees owners in a tough spot. You probably drafted him with a high pick, and given that he has missed only three games since 2004, you might not have made drafting a backup a priority. And unless you fleece someone, a trade probably won’t help you at quarterback without hurting you elsewhere. So you’re stuck.
Of course, there are worse quarterbacks to be stuck with. And you have to figure the running game, which has averaged 181 yards in the last five games, won’t lead the way the rest of the way. The Saints will need to rely on Brees at some point.
Maybe that time comes in Weeks 14-16, the fantasy playoffs, when the Saints have two games with the Falcons around a home game with the Jets. In 22 games against the Falcons with the Saints, Brees has thrown for 300-plus yards or multiple touchdowns 21 times. And the Jets are tied for the most touchdown passes against.
Until then, realize you have a low-end QB1 rather than the high-end QB1 you drafted and adjust your expectations accordingly.
IT’S NOT A BREES
Drew Brees isn’t having his typical season. Below are his averages in his first 11 seasons with the Saints and his 2017 pace through nine games.
Years Comp. Att. Yards TDs
2006-16 428 632 4,888 35
2017 382 533 4,263 23
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WEEK 11 OUTLOOK
Byes: Panthers, Colts, Jets, 49ers.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith: In their last six games, the Giants have allowed four QBs to throw for 300 yards and five to throw multiple TD passes (16 TD passes total).
Bills RB LeSean McCoy: The Chargers have allowed the second-most rushing yards and fourth-most receiving yards to running backs.
Ravens WR Jeremy Maclin: The Packers have allowed 80 yards to six wide receivers in the last four games.
Rams QB Jared Goff: His torrid pace figures to slow against the Vikings, who have allowed one or fewer touchdown passes in each of the last six games.
Falcons RB Tevin Coleman: He’ll be the lead back against a Seahawks defense that hasn’t allowed more than 54 rushing yards to a running back since Week 3.
Redskins WR Josh Doctson: He’ll face cornerback Marshon Lattimore and a tough Saints defense that has allowed the fewest points to wide receivers since Week 7.
WEEK 10 PICKS
Matthew Stafford: 249 passing, 3 TDs, INT
Jordan Howard: 15-54 rushing
Sterling Shepard: 11-142 receiving
Kirk Cousins: 327 passing, TD pass, INT, 2 TD runs
Joe Mixon: 9-37 rushing, TD
T.Y. Hilton: 2-23 receiving