The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

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There is no question that the Saints have one of the most dangerous Os in the league. Their win/loss record will depend most on how well they can stop the other team from doing the same thing.

Drew Brees is the #2 QB in most Fantasy Drafts this year for good reason. In the last 3 seasons he has thrown 26, 28 and 34 TDs. The only comment that some QB gurus make is that he is too short at a little under 6 feet to see over the O linemen. Let’s be honest. When you have 5 guys that are between 6-8 and 6-5 in front of you, you have to be 8 feet tall to see over them. Every QB needs to look in between his linemen to find his target. Brees has it all—leadership, arm, accuracy, ability to read coverage, ability to move in the pocket and rush awareness. His backup is Mark Brunell. Mark has to use Grecian Formula 88 to keep his hair brown because Grecian Formula 44 wasn’t strong enough. He is 39 but is a reasonable backup. Joey Harrington joins Brunell on the bench.

The Saints running game is a little up in the air. If you look at all the preseason books, they show Reggie Bush as the starter. He may but his has never in his college or professional career been “the” guy. Even sharing the position with a number of other Saints, he has not been healthy for an entire season over the last 2 years. He is a talent and has speed and elusiveness. But he is not built to handle 25 carries a game for 16 games plus playoffs.

My Fantasy tip of the year—get Pierre Thomas as your 2nd or 3rd RB. He averages 4.8 yards per carry and scored 12 TDs last year (9 rushing). The duo is solid and should make it difficult for defenses trying to defend the pass. The FB is Heath Evans, an excellent blocker and receiver out of the backfield.

The receiver corps is a 3 headed monster. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are as good as any 3 in the NFC. Colston was out for 5 games but the O never seemed to slow down. There may be another head added to the group because Robert Meachem is getting better and is a solid threat. The TE are Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, and Darnell Dinkins all of whom have been starters. Shockey was a disappoint primarily due to injuries. He still caught 50 balls.

One of the goals on the O line last year was to get bigger and tougher. Ts Jammal Brown and Jon Stinchcomb were the only guys to survive the change. The team added 2 rookie guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans and both were OK. Jonathan Goodwin stepped in at C. The entire group is back with Brown as the best of the line. G/C Jamar Nesbit, T Zach Strief and C Nick Leckey provide veteran depth.

If the O is the good and the D is the bad then the D line is the ugly. Both DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith had injuries last season and have been suspended for the first 4 games for substance violations. Bobby McCray, Paul Spicer and E Anthony Hargrove will battle to start in their place. Spicer and Hargrove were UFA additions and have look very good in camp and in the first preseason game. DTs Sedrick Ellis and Kendrick Clancy were OK. Ellis started as a rookie.

The team traded for MLB Jonathan Vilma and he solidified the middle of the D. It’s a good thing because backup MLB Mark Simoneau was put on the IR with a torn tricep. SLB Scott Fujita and WLB Scott Shanle are projected to start but may be challenged. UFA and former all pro Derick Brooks was signed to bolster the LBs. He provides leadership and is particularly good at pass coverage.

The D backfield last year was a major problem. The team brought in vet CB Jabari Greer and drafted rookie Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State. They will challenge expected starters Randall Gay and Tracy Porter. UFA FS Darren Sharper brings leadership and joins SS Roman Harper to solidify the last line of defense. The group should be better with the additions. Vet S Pierson Prioleau was signed as a solid backup and former starter Jason David is expected to be the 5th DB or be cut due to his salary.

OVERALL: The Saints are great on O but improving on D. They will challenge the Falcons for the NFC South title. The winner will be whichever D plays the best. Bet on the Falcons with the Saints a possible wild card team.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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