Regardless of how you look at it, Drew Brees’ 5,476 passing yards was a surprise last year. But is it possible that it wasn’t the biggest surprise on the Saints offense from a fantasy perspective?

Brees was drafted in the second and third rounds of most drafts last year. We all know that the Super Bowl winning quarterback is talented. Maybe we couldn’t foresee 5,476 yards, but we expected a big season from him.

The true fantasy shock was Darren Sproles. The 5’6’’ speedster came over from San Diego in what seemed to be a “good pick up” by New Orleans. Little did we know that the elusive running back, with an average ADP in the 12th round, would wind up ranked 7th in the NFL in receptions.

Can Sproles repeat his efforts in 2012?

I see value with drafting…

Marques Colston. I’m a fan of balancing my fantasy teams with a few boom or bust guys, and then a couple of players that, no matter what, keep me in every fantasy game. Colston is one of those safe picks.

Right now, he’s leaving the board in the Demaryius Thomas and Percy Harvin range in the late 4th /early 5th rounds. It’s a fair ADP given Colston’s history.

You see, we’ll draft Demaryius Thomas for massive upside. And the same could be said for a guy like Percy Harvin, who finished the 2012 campaign very strong. But Marques Colston doesn’t necessarily have a lot of upside. You know what you’re getting out of him.

Over the last few years, his numbers have been nearly identical. He’ll get you 1,000-1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns. And that’s the perfect player to have if you’ve got a Mike Wallace type guy opposite of him on your team.

Draft Colston is you want consistency. His ADP is fairly accurate right now for his value, but if you’re looking at a high risk lineup, you may want to value Colston higher to mitigate a little risk.

In a non-PPR league, I’m not getting…

Darren Sproles. In a PPR league, I can’t blame you at all for getting him. But if you’ve got standard scoring, you’re taking on a lot.

I was listening to a podcast by The Fantasy Fumble (check those guys out – they’re entertaining) yesterday, and one of the hosts mentioned that Darren Sproles just “didn’t make sense”. It’s the best way to put it. I don’t understand, and will never understand, how a 5’6’’ Darren Sproles did what he did in 2011.

But it happened. He finished with 86 receptions and over 700 receiving yards. And with that, he was the 8th best fantasy running back in standard leagues.

I’m just not sure it can happen again. Are we to assume Brees repeats his yardage numbers last year? And should we just overlook the fact that Mark Ingram sat out a lot of 2011?

There are a lot of talented running backs in New Orleans, and that scares me. Sproles has value this year, just not in the third round where other very talented backs are being drafted. Unless you’re in a PPR league, of course.

There’s also value with…

Pierre Thomas. He finished as the 27th ranked running back last season, and is now being drafted in the late rounds of nearly every draft.

The main reason you should keep an eye out on Thomas is because of Mark Ingram’s health risks. He had two off-season surgeries, and the Saints are being cautious with his reps.

I see value in Thomas that late in the draft. The difference in fantasy production between him and Mark Ingram, in my opinion, will be much smaller than many believe. And you can get Thomas nearly 5 rounds later.

The one word to describe the 2012 Saints is…

Spread. They love to distribute the ball to a lot of different guys, and because of that, I’m always cautious in drafting players in New Orleans.

I can’t blame you for getting Colston in the 4th or 5th round if you have a risky WR1 on your team. You know what he’ll get you, and that’s always good to have on your team.

I’m just not sure about the rest of the team. There’s value in Pierre Thomas, but you must realize that the Saints are filled with talented backs. If he drops, get him. But don’t reach for Thomas, Ingram or Sproles.