August 30, 2015

New Orleans Saints

NFC South

2014 Schedule

  • Week 1

    NO @ ATL


    1:00 pm

  • Week 2

    NO @ CLE


    1:00 pm

  • Week 3

    MIN @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 4

    NO @ DAL


    8:30 pm

  • Week 5

    TB @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 6


  • Week 7

    NO @ DET


    1:00 pm

  • Week 8

    GB @ NO


    8:30 pm

  • Week 9

    NO @ CAR


    8:30 pm

  • Week 10

    SF @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 11

    CIN @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 12

    BAL @ NO


    8:30 pm

  • Week 13

    NO @ PIT


    1:00 pm

  • Week 14

    CAR @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 15

    NO @ CHI


    8:30 pm

  • Week 16

    ATL @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 17

    NO @ TB


    1:00 pm

PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart

The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.

New Orleans Saints - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview

jimmy graham of the NO saints



New Orleans Saints - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview 


Last year nine teams had three or more fantasy starters in the top 60 and it is likely that it’ll continue to be that way in 2014. This series: Dressed for Success, will look at NFL teams going into 2014 that have assembled the right players to be a treasure trove of fantasy studs.

New Orleans narrowly missed having three players in the top 60 of fantasy scoring. That sounds pretty mystifying considering that the Saints ranked 10th in scoring. Leading the way for New Orleans was Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham, who finished 2nd and 1st at their respective positions and 2nd and 25th in overall scoring. For all of Brees’ 5,162 passing yards, only Jimmy Graham eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving. Runner-ups include Marques Colston (943), Kenny Stills (641), Darren Sproles (604 & not on the team anymore) and Lance Moore (457 & not on the team anymore).

Going into 2014, the Saints on offense look like a whole new team with Drew Brees, Marques Colston, and Jimmy Graham being the only returning starters from 2013. The other fantasy relevant players on the roster for 2014 are Kenny Stills, Brandin Cooks, Khiry Robinson, and Pierre Thomas. Sorry Mark Ingram.

Let’s get this out of the way and just say Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are going to be drafted highly and they should be for every reason imaginable.

Drew Brees’ has always been a perennial contender for number one scorer in fantasy and just had his passing record eclipsed by Peyton Manning in 2014.

Flashback to 2011 when Drew Brees’ set the record on a Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons for most passing yards in a season. I was out at a chicken wing joint with my fiancée and when Brees’ closed out the game, I told my fiancée, “this is a moment in history, you’re going to have to remember where you were when Drew Brees set the record for most passing yards in a NFL season.” She most unenthusiastically responded, “I’m sure someone will set a new record.” Was she right? Yes.


drew brees passing record


Records are made to be broken and if anyone is going to 1 up Peyton Manning, it’ll be Brees. While Brees’ has the potential, I don’t expect Brees to set the new record this year, just because the talent around him hasn’t fully matured. But the cast around him right now is extremely exciting. He has veteran Marques Colston, who’s had 6 1000+ yard seasons, two young receivers in Stills and Cooks who both run the 40 yard dash in 4.3 seconds, and the best TE in the game today in Jimmy Graham. He doesn’t have the flashy running skills of the younger running QBs, but that also means he’s less prone to injury, but has consistently shown he can get it done through the air.

One caveat fantasy owners should know is the inexplicable good Drew Brees when he plays at home and the not as good Drew Brees when he plays away. 33.2 at home, 21.6 away.

Despite these scoring differences, Brees is still a top tier QB. The talent around Brees makes him a stellar option for QB if you are willing to give up the 2nd round pick to get him. If you can get him in the third, go bananas.


drew brees dunking

Dunking is contagious in New Orleans

The other no-brainer on the Saints is Jimmy Graham, who was the number one tight end in 2013. Graham is the target leader on this offense, being targeted 144 times in 2013 and hauling in 11 TDs. It’s scary to imagine that he played much of the season with a foot injury and still produced absurd numbers.

There’s the great debate of whether Jimmy Graham is worth a first round pick; there’s no dispute that he’s worth a second round pick. Part of the argument for picking Jimmy in the first is the huge disparity between him and the second best tight end. Graham scored 217 points on the season compared to 163 by Vernon Davis. That’s 54 points. Even compared to WRs, his score would be good for 4th, behind just Josh Gordon (227.4), Demaryius Thomas (227), and Calvin Johnson (220.9).

Now, consider for a moment Peyton Manning’s record setting season culminated in 496.8 fantasy points, 59.3 points more than Brees’ second place point total of 437.5. So Manning’s 59.3 point lead over the QB competition was only five points more than Graham’s 54-point lead over the TE competition. No other position in 2013 had nearly as significant of a disparity between first and second as QB and TE.

Then consider that Graham was battling a foot injury for most of the season and arguably could have put up more points. Is it likely that Graham could repeat not just his high flying production, but also his domination over the rest of the TEs? probably.

jimmy graham dunking the ball

The Master

Looking at the wide receivers, the three to talk about are Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Brandin Cooks. Given the talent of the trio of wide receivers, it’s hard to see any of the three leap frogging the others in receiving yards. All three of the can easily be a 1000 yard receiver, but not by much.

Marques Colston is not particularly exciting like Andre Johnson who broke out for 1400 yards a season. Colston has always averaged about 1100 yards a season for eight seasons. His highest yardage total was 1154 yards in 2012. Entering into his 9th season, it’s predictable for him to see a drop off in yardage because of his age. In 2013, he finished with 943 yards, a drop off from two consecutive 1100 yard seasons beforehand. But Marques has proven that he can get it done, being only a 7th round pick in 2006. In many ways he epitomizes “Power in Numbers;” in the 7th round or such I would rather be picking Colston than Steve Smith or some receiver stranded on a bad team.

The other receivers, Stills and Cooks, however have tremendous upside compared to Colston. Stills, as a rookie, led the league with the highest average yard per catch, at 20 YPC and was the clear cut number two on the Saints, out producing veteran Lance Moore, who is not on the team anymore.


lance moore dancing

Your dancing will be missed Lance

One of the downsides with Stills is that he produced some duds on the season, a problem that is inherent with the big play wide receiver. The foreseeable problem for Stills is that he won’t be given the opportunity to mix up his routes with Graham and Cooks perhaps taking up the middle of the field. The best way to view him is as a boom or bust, feast or famine kind of player that I would be comfortable getting past in the mid rounds.

Compared to Cooks, a rookie in 2014, who’s known for his speed as well as for having an absurd 110 receptions in one college season, Stills has never reached that kind of targeting. In addition to being a catching machine, Cooks also has the same roadrunner speed as Stills. The only caveat is that Cooks is still only a rookie, and rookies that can produce 1,000 yard seasons in the first year are few and far between. I would say there’s a 50/50 chance that Cooks can clear 1,000 yards as a rookie, after all Drew Brees is his QB, and it’s not like he will be receiving the best opposing corners. If I have to draft a rookie WR this season, it’ll most likely be Cooks.

Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson now lead the backfield with Darren Sproles being a Philadelphia Eagle. This backfield is still likely to remain a backfield committee, which it has been for a while.

Who is Khiry Robinson? A legitimate question since Robinson only started seeing significant touches towards the end of the season and the post season. In his two post-season games he rushed for 45 yards on 8 attempts against the Eagles, and 57 yards on 13 attempts against the Seahawks. In his last two games, he’s proven to be able to be a phenomenal runner and at least as good Mark Ingram. Going into next season, there is speculation that he can be the lead back in New Orleans. The best thing to do is to keep track of him throughout the offseason. He could end up becoming a late round steal similar to Pierre Thomas in 2013.

Pierre Thomas finished the season with 136.2 points in standard scoring, finishing around the 20s in fantasy RB scoring. But Thomas was a PPR revelation, catching 77 passes on the season, a high for him. One reason we aren’t talking about Mark Ingram is because he had only one more rushing attempt than Pierre Thomas had catches. Thomas’ value rises significantly in a PPR league, otherwise he could be a midround pick in standard scoring.

Okay we’ll talk about Mark Ingram. His best game in 2013 was against the abysmal Cowboys defense, where he did breakout for a 145 yard game. That was the first time he ever ran for 100 yards. He has never made more than 11 catches in one season. Given his lack of breakout potential and his lack of pass catching potential, I find it hard to see him produce value in a backfield committee. Save your draft pick.




CLEVELAND BENGALS - 2014 Preason #FF Preview


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Green Bay Packers - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview

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Dikta trades his draft for Ricky Williams

The Saints, especially Mike Ditka, coveted Ricky Williams and traded all of their draft picks in 1999, as well as two picks in 2000, in order to move up two spots in the draft to acquire him. This has been and will continue to be talked about as one of the worst trades of all-time, but was it really? The evidence of what actually happened paints a very different story. This trade was more about drafting ineptitude than it was about building a dynasty for any of the teams involved.

Ricky Williams was one of the most hyped running backs coming into the league in 1999, after rushing for 2,327 yards with 29 touchdowns and winning the Heisman trophy as a member of the Texas Longhorns. Mike Ditka was the most enthralled with the young runner, as he saw him as the next Walter Payton, and made it clear ahead of the draft that he was willing to trade all of the Saints picks to obtain Williams. That was a lot of talk, but when the draft began Ditka made the bold move as the Saints and Redskins made a blockbuster trade.

Ricky Williams career stats

Iron Mike Ditka followed through on his vow, and made a deal with the Redskins, trading them their six picks in the 1999 draft, as well as their first and third round picks from the 2000 draft. Here is how it looked on paper, and wow what a haul for moving up just two spots in the draft.

New Orleans received the #5 overall pick in the 1999 draft from the Redskins and draft Ricky Williams. The Redskins received the following picks: #12, #71, #106, #144, #179 and #218 from the 1999 draft and #2 and #64 overall picks from the 2000 draft. At the time the trade was executed the analysts named the Redskins the winner for all that they were able to gain in this trade, but what followed was some of the dumbest moves ever made.

The Redskins, now loaded with draft picks, set their sites on getting Champ Bailey with their first round pick, which was now the 12th overall. Unfortunately, the Redskins did not feel that Bailey would fall to them at the 12 pick, so they went all New Orleans Saints and unloaded four of the picks they acquired from the Saints and sent them to the Bears for the right to move up from 12 to the seventh pick, where they drafted Champ Bailey. The Bears received the #12, #71, #106 and #144 in the 1999 draft from the Redskins along with a third round pick in 2000, but the Skins were not done dealing yet.

Washington then contacted the Denver Broncos about the #165 pick in the 1999 draft, and they acquired it with the final two picks of the 99’ draft from the Saints, #179 and #218. So, while Washington received eight picks to move back seven spots, they then traded six of those picks to move up twice in the draft. So let’s now look at what each team was able to do with their multitude of draft picks, and determine whom the winner was.

The Saints gave up eight draft picks and walked away with Ricky Williams. Williams would play for the Saints for three seasons, before being traded to Miami. In those three years Ricky ran for 3,129 yards with 16 touchdowns, while adding another 1,431 yards and six scores on 197 receptions. Those are good numbers, but what Williams did in his first two seasons in Miami left New Orleans fans scratching their heads. #34 ran for 3,225 yards with 25 touchdowns, and another 714 yards on 97 catches with two more scores. He was named 1st team all pro in 2002 with 2,216 yards from scrimmage, while leading the league in rushing with 1,853 yards. The best years of Ricky’s career did not happen in New Orleans, and Saints fans were disappointed, but did the other teams do any better?

The Redskins, who received all the picks, may be the case study in how to take a good thing and turn it into a bad thing. The Skins had an extra seven picks, but they ended up trading six of those to draft just two players, Champ Bailey and Derek Smith, a tackle from Virginia Tech. Champ Bailey proved to be a good pick by Washington and he was the player that lasted the longest with the team that drafted him. Champ played for Washington for five years, and was named to four Pro Bowls during that time, but at the end he wanted out of Washington and was traded to the Broncos for Clinton Portis. After giving all those picks away in 1999, Washington decided to hold onto the two picks from the 2000 draft that they got in the deal. The first pick was the second overall pick in the draft, linebacker LaVar Arrington. Arrington would play for Washington for six seasons and was named to three Pro Bowls, but his career was cut short by injuries. The final player drafted with a pick from the Williams trade was Lloyd Harrison, a defensive back who was taken with the #64 overall pick in the third round. Harrison played one year with Washington and registered no stats. This brings us to the team that scored a bounty of the Saints picks through the Redskins, the Chicago Bears.

The Bears entered this draft with many needs, quarterback being first and foremost on their list, but the Bears were not going to trade up to get hometown hero Donovan McNabb, and instead made a huge deal with the Redskins to trade down from 7 to 12 for four draft picks. What the Bears proceeded to do, was show how to make an embarrassment of riches look like an embarrassment.

Chicago grabbed the fifth quarterback off the board, Cade McNown, with the 12th pick. McNown only played with the Bears for two seasons, and had a marvelous 3-12 record as a starter with 16 touchdowns and 19 interceptions thrown. The next pick in the deal was a third round pick, the #71 overall, and the Bears selected wide receiver D’Wayne Bates. Bates was totally ineffective for Chicago playing three seasons with the Bears, totaling 15 catches for 221 yards and one score. The Bears then selected linebacker Warrick Holdman with the Saints 4th round pick, #106, who played for the Bears for five seasons. He was the most productive player the Bears got in this trade, but only had 278 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his five years. The final player drafted because of this trade in 1999 was linebacker Khari Samuel with pick #144 of the 5th round. Samuel played two years with Bears totaling 10 tackles in that time. In the 2000 draft the Bears selected the final player from this deal, tight end Dustin Lyman with pick #87 in the third round. Lyman was not an offensive threat with 37 catches for 278 yards and three scores in five years with the team. While the Bears traded down and received a lot of picks, they showed that volume does not guarantee positive results.

The final team involved in this draft day deal was the Denver Broncos. This was the most minor of all the deals, as the Broncos traded the #165 pick in the 1999 draft, which the Redskins used on tackle Derek Smith, who never played a game for the Redskins. The Broncos received a sixth and seventh round pick in exchange and drafted tight ends Desmond Clark with pick #179 and Billy Miller with pick #218. Clark would play in the league for 12 seasons, but lasted only three with Broncos posting 79 catches for 910 yards and nine touchdowns. Billy Miller was totally ineffective playing two years with Denver posting six catches for 66 yards.

So in the end what seemed like one of the biggest blockbuster trades ever made turned into a pile of poop for the four teams involved. The Saints at least got production from Ricky Williams, but they also got a win loss record of 20-28 during his years as a Saint. The Redskins did get some great production from Champ Bailey, but by no means was it the kind of return on they expected when they got the eight picks from the Saints. The Redskins failed with their picks, but not as bad as the Bears. Chicago seemed to be in the right place at the right time, but all those picks mean nothing when you have a general manager who goes 0-5 on those picks. The Broncos got a tight end out of the deal, but it was only Desmond Clark, so not really a win there either. With all of these teams, and their scouting departments they took 12 picks and turned them into basically 2 or 3 players that were worth anything. Nicely done guys.

The history of this trade proves that there are many general managers, and teams, that have no idea how to draft a winning team no matter how many picks you give them. The Saints gave away their draft for Williams, but it is hard to call them a loser in this exchange, as the other teams netted zero from all of those picks. At least we will always have Dikta in a tuxedo and Williams in his bridal dress for the worst wedding couple of all-time.


ditka and ricky

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Deuce McAllister

Deuce McAllister was one of the most dominating rushers when he entered the league and though he had a short career is still the all-time leading rusher for the New Orleans Saints.  McAllister had a unique blend of speed, power and elusiveness that made him a great running back.  McAllister had his career cut short by 2 ACL injuries; otherwise he might have gone down as one of the best running backs in his era and would have been in the talk of the best running backs of all time. 

When McAllister joined the Saints as a first round pick in 2001 NFL draft he found himself behind Ricky Williams, whom the Saints traded away an entire draft to acquire.  In his first season, McAllister only had 16 carries, but had one go for 54 yards, which showed his big, play ability.  He also added 15 receptions and scored 2 TD in his first year playing behind Williams.  The next season, though, he would be the bell cow for Saints and showed he was ready for the spotlight. 

In his second season McAllister would carry the ball 325 times for 1,388 yards and added 47 receptions for another 352 yards and scored 16 total TD.  McAllister showed his big play ability and hard nosed running up the middle with elusiveness on his way to becoming a fan favorite in New Orleans, but this season was just a precursor for what was to come.  The next season McAllister would enjoy his best season as a professional and was a fantasy stud that caught everyone’s attention. 

McAllister started all 16 games in 2003 and once again carried the load with 351 carries for an impressive 1,641 yards and 8 rushing TD.  McAllister also added 69 receptions for 516 yards for a total of 2,157 yards from scrimmage.  McAllister saw his TD total drop, but he was a beast this season with an impressive yards per carry average of 4.7.  Unfortunately, the team was unable to take advantage of his great play and finished with an 8-8 record.   McAllister was showing that he was an all around player who had the tools to dominate at the running back position.  The problem for McAllister, and other running backs in his era like him, was that the amount of carries he had over those first 2 seasons as a starter began to take their toll on him and this showed over the next 2 seasons. 

In 2004 McAllister began to show the effects of all those carries and was unable to duplicate the durability he showed in the previous 2 seasons.  McAllister only had 269 carries in 2004 and finished with only 1,074 rushing yards and added 34 receptions for 228 yards with 9 total TD.  Even with the lowered totals, McAllister went on to become the first Saint’s running back in their history to have 3 straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons.  McAllister was looking for a bounce back season in 2005, but his hopes were crushed early. 

McAllister was only able to play in 5 games in the 2005 season before tearing his ACL in his right knee.  Before the injury occurred McAllister was not having a good season with only 335 yards rushing in those 5 games and 117 receiving yards with 3 TD.  McAllister also saw his yards per carry drop to the lowest level in his career with a 3.6 YPC average.  The big play was missing from his game as his longest run went for only 26 yards during this injury-shortened season. 

When McAllister returned the next season he found himself in tough spot due to the fact the Organization made Reggie Bush their first round draft pick in the 2006 NFL draft.  McAllister now had heavy competition from a Heisman Trophy winner with big play ability.  McAllister would retain the starting job, even with the arrival of Bush, and had a decent season, but not a great season.  McAllister would once again reach the 1,000-yard mark rushing with 1,057 yards on 244 carries and scored 10 rushing TD.  The arrival of Bush, though, ate into his receiving production as he only had 30 receptions for 198 yards on the season.  McAllister and Bush looked like they could be a good combination of power and speed, until early in the 2007 season. 

In 2007 McAllister saw his career come to a screeching halt.  It was the third game of the season against the Tennessee Titans and McAllister would end up tearing the ACL in his left knee.  He was placed on injured reserve and would make one last run at the NFL the next season before hanging up his cleats forever.  In his return in 2008 he was no longer the starter and only carried the ball 107 times and had a 3.9 yards per carry average.  McAllister clearly lost a step and he ended up taking the 2009 season off and was resigned by the Saints in 2010, before their Divisional Playoff Game, and he McAllister was named the honorary Captain for the game, although he would never carry the ball in the NFL again. 

McAllister finished his short career as the all-time leading rusher in Saints history with 6,096 yards rushing and his 55 TD were the best in team history until Marques Colston passed him recently, but he is still 2nd in team history for TD scored.  McAllister also set a team record with twenty-two 100-yard rushing games in his career.    

McAllister had a fantastic career and unfortunately it was cut short and we did not get to see the full impact he could have had on the running back position and the NFL.  As it stands he remains one of the greatest players in Saint’s history and for those of us who were lucky enough to watch him play could see that he was a dominating force with a great combination of speed, power and elusiveness. 

Deuce McAllister career stats



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The Dome Patrol

The New Orleans Saints franchise had struggled since its inception in 1967, and would go without a winning season for their first 20 years. When the team finally did get on their winning ways, it was easy to identify which players changed the course of the franchise. They were known as the “Dome Patrol”. The Dome Patrol was made up of Ricky Jackson, Pat Swilling, Sam Mills and Vaughn Johnson. Who Dat? Only the best linebacking corps the NFL has ever seen.

The leader of the Patrol was their veteran Ricky Jackson. The Saints selected Jackson in the second round of the 1981 draft, and he would make an immediate impact as a rookie with 125 tackles and eight sacks. Jackson was an aggressive outside rush linebacker that knew how to get the quarterback, and he holds the Saints record with 123 sacks. Ricky only missed two games in his career, because of a car accident. He was supposed to be out for 4-6 weeks, but instead came back with a wired jaw and recorded 7.5 sacks on the season. Jackson was the emotional leader for this corps, but he needed help and had to wait until 1987 for the arrival of the rest of the patrol.

The first two arrive on the scene was Vaughn Johnson. Johnson played for the USFL’s Jacksonville Bulls, and had 154 tackles in 1984. In 1985 the Saints selected him number one in the NFL’s supplemental draft. Johnson took over as one of the inside linebackers in the Saints 3-4 defense. He would lead the team in tackles in 1987 and 1988, and from 1989-1992 was named All-Pro. Vaughn was that solid presence on the inside that shut down opposing rushing attacks.

In 1986 the USFL concluded its final season, which allowed for a large influx of talent to come to the NFL. The first move the Saints made was to hire Jim Finks from the Bears to run their football operation, and his first move was to hire former USFL Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars head coach Jim Mora. Mora led the Stars to all three USFL Title games, winning two of them. Once Mora was on board, he immediately brought Sam Mills with him.

Mills was an undersized linebacker, standing only 5’9” and weighing 229 pounds, but he was a playmaker with a tremendous motor. Sam was cut by the Browns in 1981 and was not playing football until he got a call from Jim Mora to come play for his Philadelphia Stars in the USFL. Mills would end up leading the Stars in tackles the three seasons he played for them. Mora brought Mills to the Saints, and took over the other inside linebacker position next to Johnson. Mills led the team in tackles in 1989 and was named All-Pro five times with the Saints.

The final piece to the puzzle was outstanding outside linebacker Pat Swilling. Swilling was a third round pick from Georgia Tech in 1986, and spent his first year on special teams before elevating with the arrival of Jim Mora. Pat became the starting outside linebacker, and he paid immediate dividends leading the team with 10.5 sacks in 1987. In 1989 he was named All-Pro for the first time and set a new team record with 16.5 sacks on the year. Swilling would have 17 sacks in 1991, and would be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Together these linebackers were the DOME PATROL.

The Saints had 20 losing seasons before these linebackers came together, and while they were together from 1987-1992 the Saints never experienced a losing season compiling a 62-33 record. Now you have to understand that these linebackers were basically all the Saints had during this time. In those six seasons the Dome Patrol was named to 13 Pro Bowls, while there was only one All-Pro season from the rest of the Saints defensive players during this span. The Saints offense was offensive during this time as well.

When you think of the Saints now, you think of Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and a high flying offense, but that was not the case for New Orleans during the years of the Dome Patrol. During those six seasons the Saints were led by quarterback Bobby Hebert and Steve Walsh, need I say more. The best receiver on the team was Eric Martin, who you probably have no idea even played in the NFL. The stud running backs for this team were Rueben Mayes, Dalton Hilliard and Criag Ironhead Heyward. The simple truth for this team was that they did not have an offensive that could win games on their own, and it was the defense that led the way.

The Dome Patrol led the Saints to three playoff berths, although their offense helped to ensure that they did not win any of those games. Regardless, if it were not for the Dome Patrol, the Saints would never have made a playoff appearance. These linebackers were fierce, dominating, intimidating, and just plain ruthless. Their speed on the turf in the Superdome was unparalleled, and they put fear into the best offenses in the game. For the six years they were together they were the best linebacking corps and could be the best of all time. The crowing achievement for these four horsemen came in 1992 when all four of them were named to the Pro Bowl, which had never happened before.



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Reggie Bush vs. Darren Sproles

Bush vs Sproles

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First Play in Team History was a Touchdown

The Saints were known for being a losing Franchise during their beginnings in the NFL.  The Saints came into the NFL in 1967 and it took until 1987 before the Saints would register their first winning season in Franchise history.   Although, there were high hopes when the Saints took the field for the first time in 1967, and the Franchise would open with a bang. 

The first game the Saints ever played was a home game, which was played at Tulane Stadium on Sept. 17th 1967, and there were over 80,000 fans on hand to see the birth of this NFL Franchise.  The Saints were taking on the Los Angeles Rams and the game started with a most unlikely occurrence.  John Gilliam was a rookie running back on that team and also drew kick return duties and this is where he made his mark and will forever go down in Saints history. 

Gilliam took the opening kick in the Saints first ever game and took it back to the house 94 yards for a TD.   The stadium was rocking and the Saints fans were feeling good about themselves, but the good times in that game and their history would have to wait a long time to bring that happy feeling back.  The Saints would go on to lose that first game to the Rams by a count of 27-13.  The Saints would also keep searching for that first Franchise win which did not come until November 5th against the Philadelphia Eagles 31-24, for one of their 3 wins in their inaugural season that finished with a 3-11 record. 

The Saints would continue to struggle and it would take until 1979 for the Saints to have their first non losing season, but it was also not a winning season as they finished 8-8 on the year.  The Saints would have to wait until 1987 to get their first winning season in Franchise history with a 12-3 record.  For those players that were there from the beginning winning did not come easy, although it seemed like it might after the first play in Franchise history.  Looking back it can truly be said that Gilliam’s kick return was not the auspicious start that it first seemed to be. 



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Danny Abramowicz uses his head

Danny Abramowicz is not a name that is easy to say spell or very well remembered in the history of the NFL. Abramowicz was a very productive receiver for 6 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, but he is most remembered for one of the greatest football follies moments of all time. 

Abramowicz was one of the original Saints players who were there when the franchise was founded.  He was not fast at all and did not run the best routes, but Abramowicz found a way to make big catches for a team looking for an identity.  Abramowicz played for the Saints for 6 seasons and had 37 TD during his years with them, never having less than 5 TD in a season while only playing 14 games a year. 

Abramowicz was top 10 in the NFL for receptions and yards in 1968-1970, and was top 10 in TD in 1968 and 1972.  In 1969 Abramowicz had his best season as a Saint topping the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the only time in his career and added his best catch total ever with 73.  Another interesting fact about Abramowicz is that he was the NFL record holder for catching a pass in consecutive games when he retired with 105.  These are all great things about Abramowicz and his numbers, but unfortunately for him this is not what he is known for. 

Abramowicz was part of a football follies video where they were documenting the history of the Saints and their dismal beginnings.  There is a clip below and at the 1:07 mark of the clip you will see Abramowicz catch a short slant pass and go out of bounds, head first into a huge camera.  This was back in the days when they did not have hand held cameras, or cameras on wires to show the action.  Instead, there were huge cameras that would move up and down the sideline only a few yards out of bounds.  This event led to the cameras being moved behind the benches.  After this video came out and has been replayed on NFL Films Abramowicz has always been known as the guy that cracked his head into the camera. 


Check out this clip at the 2:38 mark.



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It would be very impressive if CJ Spiller can make it all the way back from IR/recall. At this moment he is limited at practice.

Pyro's take: Dont look for much from Spiller this season, unless he gets a full-time nod. If he does, he has a great match-up against the Raiders. Stranger things have happened, so if you are in need of a running back, this may be a nice play for your team, just dont rush it and make sure he is fully recovered.

12/17/14, 04:27 PM CST by Vaaal-verde


Khiry Robinson returns to practice, and is expected to play on Sunday. How much playing time he gets, and what that means for Mark Ingram is another situation. "There's two things," Payton said when asked about Robinson's expected workload. "With regards to the first game a player's back, you have to look closely at how many snaps. But I don't envision it really changing what Mark's been able to do, and I think that there will be enough carries in the game and we'll be smart about it."

Robinson, who has 330 yards on 64 carries, is actually averaging more yards per carry this year than Ingram (5.2 to 4.5). Robinson would rank third among all NFL running backs in that category if he had enough carries.
"I know it's a battle because it's your job. But at the same time, we all encourage each other," Robinson said. "All our relationship is all together as one. It's not like one vs. the other or he's doing good and I'm like, ‘Oh man.' It's nothing like that. I feel like we're all one when it comes to the running backs."

Pyro's take: It doesn't appear at this point that Robinson will cut into Ingram's workload, but keep your eye on the situation, because that could change.

12/03/14, 07:02 PM CST by Vaaal-verde

Cooks Cooked

Mike Garafolo has mentioned via twitter that "Saints WR Brandin Cooks had surgery on that injured thumb and is actually out 4-6 weeks, per his agent @jeffsperbeck"

Pyro's take: This means that he now becomes droppable in 12 team, and redraft leagues. Look for the Saints to focus on Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, Marques Colston, and perhaps Pierre Thomas.

11/17/14, 07:23 PM CST by Vaaal-verde

Not Practicing

Khiry Robinson is not practicing and he has joined Pierre Thomas in the fold.

Pyro's take: If both Robinson and Thomas are out, look for Mark Ingram to get the majority of the workload. Ingram could be a nice flex play against the Green Bay Packers.

10/23/14, 11:51 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde


Ian Rappaport has stated via his twitter that "More #Saints bad news: They will lose RB Pierre Thomas for 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury, I'm told. He left Sunday's game early."

Pyro's take: Not to worry much, unless your suffering with depth, Thomas will be back in a few to resume his normal duties. If in need, Denard Robinson, Anthony Dixon, or Bryce Brown are options.

10/21/14, 09:05 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Spiller Spilled

CJ Spiller will be lost for the year after he broke his collar bone. Eric Wood stated about Spiller "He was in a lot of pain," Wood said. "I was just praying for him, telling him to stay strong. I've been there before." Fred Jackson was lost to a groin injury, just two plays before. "I don't know how it'll change moving forward," Wood said of Buffalo's backfield, "but it's never good when you lose two players of that caliber."

Pyro's take: Anthony Dixon or Bryce Brown will get an opportunity here, while both starters are out. Dixon stated "This is opportunity I've been waiting for, to get back in that workhorse role and show people what I can do," Dixon said. "I want to show people what I could do in college and high school."

10/20/14, 12:18 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Coaching Staff Not Happy

Buffalo Bills reporter Mike Rodak stated via his twitter account that "Bills OC Nate Hackett said today the coaching staff wants C.J. Spiller to 'see three, get three.' Said Spiller is trying to "do too much."

Pyro's take: This pretty much sums up why Spiller is not being used and why his production has been dropped since the new coaching staff has arrived.

The Bills are asking him to change the way he runs to fit their scheme, as opposed to changing their scheme to fit him. Spiller is not that type of player, the offensive system, needs to adjust to his skill-set, and not force him to be in a box of set-runs.

This may be the last season for CJ Spiller as a Buffalo BIll, unless the coaching staff is terminated, or comes together to inspire a change of direction for Spiller.

10/18/14, 03:24 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Mark to Go

Mark Ingram looks ready to take the field. According to Mike Triplett via his twitter: "#Saints RB Mark Ingram said he's full go, taking all the normal reps, running, catching passes, not being eased in or babied."

This looks like a good sign, as he stated last week, he wanted to return for the Lions game.

Pyro's take: Mark Ingram has had a solid year before he went down with his injury, in two weeks, he has had 24 carries for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He was looking to be the primary back. Looks like his return will be 100% healthy.

10/15/14, 05:20 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Spiller Over

C.J. Spiller has seen a reduction of carries over this season, Jay Skurski, writer for the Buffalo Bills, has stated that C.J. Spiller's "12 snaps were his fewest in a game dating back to 2012. He even played more in games last season with a high-ankle sprain."

Pyro's take: Spiller just has not produced. He had that one great year, two years ago, but since then has done very little. Even being moved to special teams, is an indication of his insignificance in the running game. Its Fred Jackson's team now.

10/13/14, 10:54 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Boosting the Run Game

Looks like a October 19th return date for Mark Ingram. They will be facing the Lions in just one week. "My plan is to be back out there next week versus Detroit," he said. Ingram has not practiced since breaking a bone in his hand at Cleveland in Week 2. He said he would have to be cleared by the medical staff after successfully competing in practice this week.

Pyro's take: With Mark Ingram's return it should elevate the New Orleans Saints run game. Look for October 19th if everything goes well, and a great time as bye-weeks are hitting full steam.

10/12/14, 01:06 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Heavy Brees

Drew Brees game seems to be faltering. Its obvious that he has been struggling this year, and at home, against the weak defense of the Tampa Bay Buccs he stumbled again. His 371 yards and two touchdowns were nice, but he also threw three interceptions. When asked about his struggles, and maybe his 35 year-old arm faltering, Brees stated "Even if that was the case (losing arm strength), because I would say at some point maybe your skills, I wouldn't even say skills diminish, I wouldn't even say strength diminishes," Brees said earlier this week. "The thing that diminishes as you get older is your ability to recover."

Pyro's take: His age and recovery speed are all something us elders know all about. Whether that is what is keeping him from producing top flight numbers is something not yet known. There is no escaping putting him in your starting line-up each week, and perhaps, after this week's bye, things can get back to normalcy.

10/06/14, 10:36 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Cool Brees

Drew Brees didnt put up monster stats against the Minnesota Vikings, but he was very efficient. He finished the game with 27 completions on 35 attempts for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Hill and Marques Colston were beneficiaries of those touchdown passes.

He faces the Cowboys next week on Monday Night Football.

Pyro's take: Brees should continue to be himself, even though he will be on the road, which seems to be his nemesis of late. Not a better way to break that spell than play one of the worst defenses in football

09/23/14, 07:41 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Ingram undergoes surgery

Mark Ingram has undergone surgery to repair the fracture in his hand. Two screws were inserted above Ingram's thumb during the procedure. Head coach Sean Payton has stated there is no chance Ingram can play, and his status will be "week to week."

Pyro's take: The important factor here is that Ingram will only be out this week, and a possibility of return for next week. Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas value has increased.

09/17/14, 06:55 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Ingram to miss a month

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram is expected to miss at least one month with a broken hand he suffered Sunday, a source told ESPN.

A broken hand will keep the Saints' Mark Ingram out for at least the next month.
Saints coach Sean Payton declined to offer any specifics on Ingram's injury Monday.

"Nothing now," Payton said. "I thought he ran really good. Shoot, he played hard. We'll evaluate where he's at. But nothing today with specifics in regards to any of these guys with injury."

Pyro's take: There is the Ingram we all know and despise. After two great performances Ingram will now be on the shelf for a month or more. During his time away Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson will probably get the bulk of the work. Upon his return though Ingram could still be an effective player for fantasy squads unless Robinson runs away with the job. Thankfully, the injury isn't to his legs so he should come back at a high level when he returns. It looks like Pierre Thomas will be used in a similar, yet probably slightly increased fashion while Robinson gets the early down carries.

09/15/14, 01:56 PM CDT by Stagg Party

Thomas enjoying his role

Pierre Thomas is in his seventh season, and the Saints finally have found a role that fits Thomas perfectly. He has taken over the Darren Sproles playbook, and even though it has only been one week, he has looked great out there. Thomas received more snaps (34) than Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson combined (32) in the Saints' Week 1 loss in Atlanta, and can contribute in several different ways.

Thomas' snaps in the run game will drop, while his snaps in the pass game will rise. Thomas saw 78.8 percent of his playing time on passing downs. He is being lined up all over the field, so the Saints can take advantage of his skills. "Route running for me is the thing I try to work on the most," Thomas said. "I don't do it often, and I haven't done it often in my past. It seems like I'm going to get a little more work at it. In practice, that's what I've been doing."

Pyro's take: Thomas always had the ability to be a top notch receiver out of the backfield, but just couldn't find a way to fit him in at a maximum. Its all under the bridge now, as he fits perfectly in the Saints explosive offense. Look for numbers to continue to roll, as he should make an excellent flex player for PPR rosters.

09/12/14, 02:36 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

The rookie wideout can play

First NFL game stat line: 7 catches (on 8 targets) for 77 yards, a 3-yard TD and an 18 yard rush.

"I had an all-right performance, but at the end of the day you want the win. I would rather have zero catches with a 'W' than what I did." -Brandin Cooks

My kind of guy, zero diva - all about the team football player!

Pyro's take: I've been singing this kids praises since last fall when I watched him play a couple times for the Oregon State Beavers. He's faster than most, had the top-3 best all-around NFL Combine performance for wide receivers over the past 10 years - yet Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. got taken before him in May's draft.

With Drew Brees throwing him the pill, and talented veterans like Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston there to take the pressure off the rookie - he's in a position to dominate week in and were out.

If you scored him in a keeper league in recent fantasy drafts you are licking your chops at the low pick you will have to give up to keep him next season. Just sit back and enjoy the ride with this fella.

09/08/14, 12:10 PM CDT by d-Rx

Spiller on kickoffs

Head coach Doug Marrone will be using ultra-talented CJ Spiller on kickoff returns, and denied any comment that it would be too risky to have a star running back in these type of situations. “I look at it as how many guys have been injured returning the football compared to people injured with the ball being handed off to them,” said Marrone. “I don’t view it as much of a risk as some people would. I could understand why people could see that because of the distance and the way people are running down the field. But again I don’t look at it that way. As much as we can get our playmakers out there whether it be punt returns or kickoff returns we have to make sure we explore that.”

Pyro's take: CJ Spiller has been used in kickoffs in both college and the pros, so this nothing new. At Clemson, he averaged almost 28 yards a return (27.7) and had seven returns for touchdowns. In his Bills career he’s had 50 kick returns for 1,157 yards and a touchdown, a 95-yarder against New England on Sept. 26th of his rookie season (2010).

Doug Marrone on the other hand realizes he needs some kind of offense, so if it means using Spiller to return kicks, he is going to do so. This is great news for those that use a scoring system that incorporates using a player in kick returns as a roster spot, for all other owners, pray he doesnt blow out a knee returning a kick.

09/04/14, 05:57 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Looking good in Saints offense

The NFL world was losing hope on Mark Ingram, after all he was a first round draft choice, 28th overall, in 2011, and has made a career of being not much more than a football flop is averaging 7.1 yards on 21 preseason carries. Going back to Week 15 of last season, Ingram has rushed for 397 yards on his last 65 carries (6.1 YPC) in a Saints uniform.

The numbers are nice, but it's also the way he has ran the ball. He has that competitive drive, and drives with authority. Ingram is displaying patience, vision, decisiveness, balance and explosion. He's accelerating through holes and breaking tackles on runs that would have gone for two or three yards in years past.Ingram can also catch the ball, as seen in the preseason against the Titans on a 23 yard pass catch and touchdown.

Pyro's take: Mark Ingram should have more opportunities to get his mojo working this year, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him dominate not only in standard leagues, but also in PPR. His ADP is 44th running back drafted, or 10th round in standard. In PPR he is 43rd ranked running back. This is great value, and he should be targeted for all leagues.

08/27/14, 11:39 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Spiller looking for new contract and a rebound season

The Bills now have three proven NFL running backs – Jackson, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon – under contract for at least the next two seasons. So where does Spiller fit in that equation?

“Right now, I really haven’t given it any thought,” he said this week. “I’ve just been focusing on trying to get better at my craft. We’ve got time. Hopefully both sides will be able to get something done, and we can keep 28 and 22 together.”

A high-ankle sprain in 2013 robbed him of much of his explosiveness, resulting in significant drops in yards per carry (from 6.0 to 4.6), receiving yards (from 459 to 185) and total touchdowns (from eight to two) from 2012.

The injury, though, is fully healed.

“He doesn’t look hampered now. He looks more explosive than he did during the season last year,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. “We just have to do a good job in the preseason with the amount of carries we give him and how much work he needs to get to get ready for the season.”

Pyro's take: Spiller is one of the bigger question marks at the running back position. He has the ability to be a top 10 back, but he made such a bad impression on fantasy owners last season that his ADP has dropped dramatically. The Bills extended the contract of the 33 year old Fred Jackson, while the 26 year old Spiller is still playing to get a new contract. C.J. could be one of this year's great values at the running back position, especially if he has that explosion back in his game.

08/02/14, 11:20 AM CDT by Houdini

Cooks wants to win d-Rx his bet

What could’ve been a 50-50 ball, perhaps even should have been a 50-50 ball, was made into no such thing at all.

Brandin Cooks saw to that.

The rookie receiver sped down the right side of the field, crossed in front of his defender, kept his body between his opponent and the football and uncoiled to make a leaping grab, falling to the turf at The Greenbrier resort about 45 yards from where Drew Brees launched the pass.

“It was an interesting play because there are some different things you see on film and it is harder for a player with his stature, farther down the field you go,” New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said. “Often times it is harder to make plays above your head, but it was a good play in traffic. It was good to see.”

Pyro's take: I bet d-Rx $50 that Brandin Cooks would not reach 1,000 yards this season.

Cooks is a tremendous talent, and having Drew Brees and Sean Payton makes him even more potent. Brandin is a player who fights for every ball. He has amazing speed and should be a starter from day one, and I could be forced to pay d-Rx if he continues his rapid development.

07/28/14, 10:41 PM CDT by Houdini


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