New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will miss a regular-season game for the first time since 2009 Sunday, which creates some intriguing questions with regard to the fantasy value of running back Mark Ingram and Brees’ replacement in Luke McCown.
Saints head coach Sean Payton announced Friday that Brees will miss New Orleans’ Week 3 clash with the Carolina Panthers, according to the team’s official Twitter account. The 36-year-old signal-caller suffered a bruised rotator cuff in a Week 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which put his status in doubt, per ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett.
With Brees on the shelf, McCown will start, which is something the 34-year-old veteran hasn’t done much over the past several years, as evidenced by this tweet from NFL Network’s Erin Coscarelli:
McCown has just nine career starts to his credit despite entering the NFL as a fourth-round pick in 2004, but Payton has the utmost confidence in him, according to Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com:
The journeyman quarterback is in the midst of his third season as Brees’ understudy, and while he has barely seen the field for the Saints, he believes he can take advantage of what has been one of the NFL’s best offenses for many years, per Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com.
“Read option waved bye bye to me by about the second ACL,” McCown said. “This offense is what it is, and it produces, if you play within the confines of it, it produces.”
It is likely that many of Brees’ fantasy owners will be looking for a replacement option in Week 3, but it would be best to look elsewhere instead of starting McCown.
Not only has he had little success over the course of his career, but New Orleans’ offense isn’t as potent as it once was. Neither Jimmy Graham nor Kenny Stills are in the fold any longer and Marques Colston has declined, which leaves Brandin Cooks as the only top target.
In addition to that, the Panthers rank fifth in total defense so far this season, so the matchup is far from ideal.
With Brees out of action, one can only assume that the Saints will lean more heavily on the running game in Week 3, which means Ingram should receive no shortage of touches.
He has struggled out of the gates with a yards-per-carry average of just 3.1 this season, but he averaged 4.3 yards per tote last year and found the end zone nine times.
Unfortunately for him, Carolina is seventh against the run, as it is allowing 78.5 yards per contest and 3.6 yards per carry. Even so, Yahoo Sports fantasy analyst Brad Evans sees potential in the former Alabama standout for Week 3:
While it could be tough sledding at times for Ingram Sunday, he is the Saints’ best option in terms of beating the Panthers, so he will have plenty of opportunities to accumulate stats.
Ingram’s owners should start him as an RB2 or flex with the understanding that he probably won’t post eye-popping numbers, but he’ll be of value assuming he is able to find pay dirt.
None of New Orleans’ offensive players truly benefit from an offensive perspective with Brees out, but if you are going to start one of them, make sure it’s Ingram.
McCown’s projected Week 3 stats: 170 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception
Ingram’s projected Week 3 stats: 75 rushing yards, two receptions for 10 yards and one touchdown
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