You don’t realize what you’ve got till it’s gone. We won’t be able to fathom Drew Brees‘ fantasy greatness until we tally his career in New Orleans. …
(Note: Assuming one point for every 20 yards passing and four points per touchdown.)
In 2015, Brees played 15 games. If he had played one more and hit his average points per game of 25.3, he’d have finished as the QB3. He was also the only quarterback to finish in the top 17 who didn’t play the full 16 games. This was a “down year.”
Average-to-mediocre quarterbacks are easy to find in this game we play, but the ones who put up 25-30 points on almost every occasion they take the field are tough to find. Brees has been, is, and always will be a fantasy football superstar.
Not only does Drew Brees have a stunning yearly floor, it translates to his weekly performances. The Saints will always be able to score points with him at the helm. In the past three seasons, he hasn’t scored fewer than 11.3 points in any single game and has scored over 20 points in 22 of his 31 games. This is true consistency shown by someone who is all but guaranteed to be a top ten quarterback at the end of the year, with the potential to finish number one overall.
But what makes him so special?
The Perfect Passer
Brees is arguably the best pure passer in the NFL. There are better throwers. There are players with stronger arms. But in terms of someone who can spread the ball around to multiple different options with unfaltering anticipation and a pure understanding of his offense, Brees is king. He will pick a defense apart in multiple ways, and is so tough to defend.
At some point this season, he will overtake Dan Marino and become third in career passing yards. Last year, he led the league in that category. In 2014, it was the same story. This statistic from ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ tells you all you need to know about the level he’s playing at:
DID YOU KNOW: @Saints QB Drew Brees has passed for 5,000 yards 4 times. All other players in NFL history have COMBINED for 4 such seasons.
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) August 23, 2016
Who will help him aim for 5000 yards again this year?
The Surrounding Talent
Brees always makes the players around him look good (think Peyton Manning and Tom Brady), but this year he has some extremely strong weapons to look to. Third year man Brandin Cooks burst onto the scene statistically last season, but has shown his maturity and savvy from the moment he turned up in Saints camp as a rookie. While Cooks was extremely inconsistent as a fantasy asset last season (only six games with over 20 PPR points and another six with single-digit scores), he racked up 84 catches, 1140 yards and nine touchdowns. I don’t believe he’s reached anywhere near his full potential and expect him to match those numbers, if not improve on them.
Across from Cooks was Willie Snead, who fell just shy of 1000 yards and continued to show his prowess this preseason.
— NFL (@NFL) August 27, 2016
Not only did Brees put that pass in the perfect spot, he had trust in Snead to make a tightly-contested grab. While Snead’s yardage may drop this season when competing with more receiving options, he certainly will have opportunities to score and improve on his three touchdowns from 2015.
The shiny new toys for Drew Brees are rookie wideout Michael Thomas and former Colt tight end Coby Fleener. While we got excited for Josh Hill last year, I think we realized Jimmy Graham’s success wasn’t just down to playing the “Drew Brees Tight End” role. Then Benjamin Watson came along and busted out a 74-825-6 line, seeing over 100 targets. Fleener was brought in to fill that role again, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he achieves something similar to Watson. Thomas has wowed with some spectacular catches in the preseason, but I would slow the hype knowing how much Brees likes to spread the wealth. Regardless of how each of them perform individually, they will all contribute to another high-volume passing season for the Saints.
The Price Versus the Ceiling
He’s the fifth quarterback coming off the board according to the Two QBs ADP data. I believe fourth or fifth is where he should be (in a tier with Russell Wilson, behind Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck). But any time he falls below that mark among quarterbacks, don’t hesitate to get a hold of him. As for the players surrounding him in ADP at other positions, it will depend largely on how many quarterbacks have gone ahead in your draft and where you are with your pick. Assuming a quarterback run has begun and you are on the turn, I’d take Brees over players like Brandon Marshall and Mark Ingram. If you have another shot at a quarterback soon or grabbed one in the first round, then pass him by because there is always value at quarterback later on.
When thinking whether or not you’ll feel good after selecting Drew Brees, keep this in mind: In the past three years, he has gone over 30 fantasy points in 13 games (28%), leading the league. Those elite games win your head-to-head match-ups and propel your teams to the playoffs. Your investment will be worth it.