Initial Fantasy Football Thoughts about the Saints RB Situation
Alex Dunlap, Rosterwatch.com
From Thursday’s NFL Season Opener against Green Bay:
5 carries for 31 yards.
4 receptions on 5 targets for 37 yards.
Pierre Thomas is the kind of player I love to watch. I am convinced that when healthy, Pierre Thomas is one of the most, if not THE most talented runner in the league at breaking tackles. His balance and lateral awareness while engaged with a defensive player are what make him elusive. Not top end speed or even necessarily power. Pierre Thomas is a master of body positioning at the point of impact. That is his greatest skill. Think about that. He is one of the best players in the league at putting his body in compromising positions as he is being tackled by 1 or more 260 pound NFL Ballers. Pretty painful skill to have, and his injury history proves that. In Thursday’s season opener, he did nothing to disprove my theory, by forcing defenders to miss 7 tackles on 9 touches.
14 carries for 40 yards
Rookie Mark Ingram was the game’s leading rusher despite this medioocre-to-crappy stat line. He also received nearly three times the carries of his nearest competition. It is obvious that New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton is most comfortable with his other two options as receivers out of the backfield, but as the game wore on, it was in fact Mark Ingram who Sean Payton made a distinct effort to get involved on the majority of 1st and 2nd down run plays.
2 rushes for 7 yards
7 receptions on 9 targets for 76 yards
1 sick 72 yard punter return
What a pick up for the Saints. He has taken to the offense like a duck to water and by all appearances is capable of becoming the player on 3rd downs and special teams that the organization had hoped for in Reggie Bush and then some.
What can we draw from this-
1) Even in high scoring games, no running back in this tandem is guaranteed even marginal standard fantasy football scoring as the situation currently stands.
2) Darren Sproles will be heavily involved in this offense, and could take over an even more prominent role in the event of an injury to one of the others. People look at his slight stature and assume he cannot carry any significant portion of the load in spot duty, but watch tapes from the end of the 2009 season after LaDanian Tomlinson went down up through the AFC Wild Card game. He went bananas.
3) Sean Payton showed a commitment to Pierre Thomas as the official “starter’, but also a more telling commitment to Mark Ingram in getting him heavily involved as the game wore on. This is a function of trying to keep Thomas healthy, but also the beginning of a changing of the guard in New Orleans from one lead back to the next. Even if Pierre Thomas stays healthy, expect Mark Ingram to see a more and more prominent role as the season wears on.
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