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The Curious Cases Of The New Orleans Saints

Lineup tinkering is a dangerous thing. If you’re like me, I’m constantly swapping players in and out of my starting lineup, because sometimes it’s too hard to decide. In those moments, I always say go with your gut instinct.

Gut instinct. Isn’t that a weird phrase? We’re going to trust what our gut thinks? Our gut only knows when it’s hungry and when it’s full. How can we trust it to make the tough fantasy decisions?

All jokes aside, I think that gut instinct is a legitimate thing when it comes to fantasy. If your gut instinct is telling you to play Wendell Smallwood over LeSean McCoy, then your gut instinct sucks and you shouldn’t listen to your gut ever again. But if it’s more like Michael Thomas over Rishard Matthews, then sometimes your gut call can pay off.

Speaking of the Saints and gut instinct, if you own any Saints players, you have probably been making tough decisions every week. Throughout the season, there have been many teams that have had their share of questionable coaching calls and surprise studs, but the Saints seem to take the cake.

The curious cases of the New Orleans Saints seems to get more and more mysterious each week. From benching players to wide receiver decoys, the Saints are tough to decode for fantasy players. I’m going to attempt to make some sense out of this craziness, so bear with me.

Curious Case #1: Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram’s woes started when he fumbled in Week 8. Twice. In one game. After that, Sean Payton benched him and Tim Hightower took his place. Since those fumbles, Ingram and Hightower have been splitting time, basically 50/50.

I saw a statistic yesterday that since Ingram was benched, he has 47 rushing attempts, 382 rushing yards, and two touchdowns. Hightower, since Week 8, has 58 rushing attempts, 228 rushing yards, and one touchdown. Ingram is obviously the better running back, and he always has been. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Ingram as the Saints feature back again? #MakeIngramGreatAgain

Even though he’s splitting time with Hightower, I still think Ingram is startable. With the crazy amount of yards and points that he just put up, I think you have to gamble on him and hope that he continues to prove that Hightower should not see the field at all.

Curious Case #2: Tim Hightower

I’m going to say something controversial: Tim Hightower is not good, and he shouldn’t be playing as much as he does right now. I firmly believe that if the Saints had a different head coach, he wouldn’t see the field.

For some odd reason, Sean Payton LOVES Hightower. It’s not logical, and it really seems like he’s trying to make Hightower a thing when he shouldn’t be a thing.

If not for Hightower’s 50 yard catch from Willie Snead, he would’ve had a terrible day this past Sunday. If I owned Hightower, I would be very hesitant to start him, especially with Ingram playing so well.

Curious Case #3: Brandin Cooks

After what just happened this past Sunday, Brandin Cooks may have the most curious case of them all. In a game where the Saints scored 49 points against the Rams, Cooks had 0 reception and 0 yards, and wasn’t targeted AT ALL.

Why? Why did arguably the best Saints receiver not get a single pass thrown his way? It appears as though it was the Rams’ game plan to take Cooks away, and the Saints just rolled with it. Cooks was double covered most of the time, which left the other receivers either open or guarded by the not-as-good cornerbacks.

On the other hand, the Saints didn’t make a point to get Cooks the ball, even if the Rams were trying to stop him. It’s as if the Saints said: “Oh, you’re trying to take away our best receiver? Go for it, we don’t care about him. We’ll just murder you with all of our other players. Yay!”

I don’t think this is going to be a reoccurring theme, so all you Cooks owners can relax and breathe a sigh of relief. Cooks is still the 13th highest scoring wide receiver, and has boomed more than he has busted. Keep starting him, and pray that Sean Payton regains his sanity.

Curious Case #4: Michael Thomas

One of the biggest surprises this year has been the emergence of rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas. Right now he’s the 10th highest scoring wide receiver in fantasy. Last week, while Cooks was silent, Thomas was boomin’. He had nine catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

Overall, Thomas has been a stud this year. However, the past few weeks have been rocky. In Week 10 against the Broncos, Thomas fumbled twice (him and Ingram are double fumble twins). Because of that, his field time was limited in Week 11 (another Sean Payton fumble punishment). Week 12 was his rebound week, proving that he’s for real, and the fumbles were just a fluke.

If you have Thomas, you need to be starting him. With the best opposing cornerback most likely guarding Cooks, Thomas should keep exploding. Thomas has the potential to be a league winner, so treat him as one.

While it’s hard to predict which Saints player is going to go off from week to week, it’s safe to say that any one of them has the potential to get you a ton of points. I have Thomas in a couple of leagues, and I’m rolling him out with confidence. If you have Ingram, Cooks, or Thomas, start them and cross your fingers that Sean Payton and Drew Brees show favor on them. Your playoff chances may depend on it. Good luck, and go with your gut.

Do you agree? Or Disagree? What Saints players do you trust or distrust? Let me know by commenting or tweeting at us here. While you’re here, check out this week’s starts and sits and player rankings, and our awesome podcasts.

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