Week 1 of the NFL season is fast approaching, but there is still time for fantasy football drafts to take place prior to the first game of the season this coming Wednesday night.
The start of the season can’t come soon enough for the New Orleans Saints after a tumultuous offseason, and their offense is again likely to provide fantasy owners with plenty of suitable options to consider on draft day and throughout the season. But for the purposes of this exercise I will narrow it down to arguably their top two wide receivers, Marques Colston and Lance Moore, in search of which is the better fantasy option. Let’s take a look at both, then I’ll make my choice.
Colston has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league in recent years, with at least 70 receptions, 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in five of his six seasons as a pro. In the lone season he failed to reach those benchmarks (2008) he played just 11 games, but it’s also worth mentioning he has played all 16 games just twice in his career and has some history of knee issues. He was a free agent this offseason but elected to re-sign with New Orleans, which was clearly positive news for his fantasy value.
Colston is a top option in one of the league’s most prolific passing games piloted by one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Drew Brees, which automatically makes him a relevant and typically reliable fantasy option. His size and route running savvy makes him a nice option in all areas of the field, and the Saints’ offensive scheme prevents him from being an afterthought in any game. A lack of red zone targets (13) compared to some of his more notable teammates last season makes his eight touchdowns fairly impressive, and double-digit touchdowns would not be out of the question in 2012 with only a few more opportunities around the goal line.
Colston’s consistency should also be noted, as over the last two seasons he has at least three receptions in 27 of 29 games and at least 50 receiving yards in 24 of those contests. His upside is obviously not as great as the wide receivers ranked above him on preseason cheat sheets, but sometimes knowing what you’ll get week-to-week is a very valuable commodity for fantasy owners.
Moore got off to a slow start last season, as he was inactive Week 1 and then had just one touchdown over his first six games played. But he then averaged a touchdown per game over his next seven games, including two multi-touchdown games, to give him eight touchdowns for the second straight season. In fact, Moore has at least eight touchdown receptions (10 in 2008) in three of the past four seasons despite only topping 800 yards once in his six-year career.
Moore had just two games with more than five receptions and two games with over 75 receiving yards last season, with both milestones only happening once in the same game. That said, he was a primary option in the red zone (16 targets) and could be in line for a bigger overall role this season with the departure of Robert Meachem in free agency.
The New Orleans passing game provides ample opportunity for both Colston and Moore to be fantasy starters, though Brees’ propensity for spreading the ball around creates some risk for a poor game here or there while also creating the possibility of an occasional big game.
All things considered, I’ll take Colston’s consistency over Moore’s largely touchdown-driven fantasy value at this point. If Moore does have an expanded role with Meachem out of the picture that may change things some, but he is really nothing more than a WR3 with potential upside right now in standard leagues. Colston on the other hand is a worthy low-end WR1 in all fantasy formats and could even come at a value on draft day if the other owners in your league overlook him.