THE LUCK OF THE DREW

Saints’ run­ning game means Brees isn’t top- tier QB any longer

Chicago Sun-Times - - FANTASYFOOTBALL - JEFF AGREST Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Jef­freyA22. Email: ja­grest@suntimes.com

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 sinceWeek 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 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 Saints’ 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 high­end QB1 you drafted and ad­just your ex­pec­ta­tions ac­cord­ingly.

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Saints quar­ter­back Drew Brees has been hand­ing off more ( to Mark In­gram, above) and pass­ing less this sea­son.

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