2014 Outlook: We regularly say that a tight end has to submit a truly historic season to justify a first- or second-round pick. Well, in 2013, Graham did just that. His 16 TD receptions led the NFL and was the second most ever by a tight end. It's true that after an incredible start -- 49 catches, 746 yards and 10 TDs through Week 9 -- Graham leveled off a bit. Bothered by a plantar fascia injury, he topped 73 yards receiving in just one of his final eight contests. But in that span, he also had 6 TDs, so we'll shut up. Perhaps the NFL's truest matchup nightmare, Graham is a cornerstone of the Saints' offense. Maybe historic seasons have simply become his norm.
2014 Outlook: Were it not for Peyton Manning's season for the ages, Brees would have garnered a ton of fantasy football MVP votes last year. He hit the 5,000-yard benchmark, threw 39-plus touchdown passes for the third consecutive season and had as many games with 30-plus fantasy points as Manning (five). Brees also has a highly favorable schedule -- only five games against teams that finished in the upper third of the league in fantasy QB points allowed. You can't go wrong with him.
2014 Outlook: For Colston, 2011 seems like a long time ago. Back then, his younger legs could still burn secondaries with ease. Despite missing two games that year, he scored 4 TDs on throws of 20-plus yards, which was tied for fourth best in the league. In the two seasons since, he's had only one such score, reaffirming that Colston needs to up his red zone game (just 3 TDs inside the 20 last season) before he gets back into the WR2 conversation. With rookie first-rounder Brandin Cooks in town, Colston will face even more competition for targets in 2014.
2014 Outlook: In 2013, Thomas led all NFL RBs in catches (77) and set a career high for touches from scrimmage (224). Overall, he ranked 23rd in fantasy points among RBs. Now that Darren Sproles is in Philly, conventional wisdom says Thomas' fantasy stock should be on the rise. But we're having a hard time getting too excited. Maybe it's because the Saints could be transitioning to a more traditional power running game, which would benefit second-year back Khiry Robinson. Or maybe it's because Thomas didn't produce a single run that went for more than 18 yards in 2013. Regardless, Sean Payton will probably play this by committee, which doesn't make Thomas any more enticing.
2014 Outlook: Nobody knows how the Saints' offense will look in 2014. By releasing Lance Moore and trading Darren Sproles, it's reasonable to wonder whether New Orleans committed to a more traditional attack. That would be good news for Robinson, a player who has only 54 career carries but showed startling power and burst in limited action last season. With Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas still around in the Big Easy, split carries are inevitable. Robinson has the look of a fantasy star in the making, but we're worried the Saints will continue to bring him along slowly.
2014 Outlook: On its face, Ingram's 4.9 yards per carry last season would seem to indicate that the frustrating Heisman winner was starting to live up to his promise. But if you remove a 14-carry, 145-yard effort against a terrible Dallas defense, that ypc number dips to 3.8, which is right in line with his previous two seasons. When it comes to Ingram, it's hard to see many positives on tape. He lacks instincts to consistently find running lanes and rarely gets enough momentum to use his 215-pound frame as a battering ram. Ingram will get a chance to carve out a bigger role, but our money is on Khiry Robinson to emerge as New Orleans' primary rusher.
2014 Outlook: Cooks' high school nickname was Sonic Boom, and it's easy to see why. Last season at Oregon State he found his way to the end zone 16 times while breaking the Pac-12 single-season records for receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,730). His backstory is just as impressive, as he helped hold his family together after his father died of a heart attack when Cooks was only 6 years old. New Orleans moves the ball around a lot, so Cooks may not have dominant target totals, but his 4.33 40-yard-dash time indicates he can make the most of the passes thrown his way.
2014 Outlook: So the Saints' defense didn't totally stink last year. Who saw that comin'? Rob Ryan's swap to an aggressive 3-4 worked, especially against the pass. DE Cam Jordan (12' sacks, fifth in the NFL) was a revelation as a pocket-collapsing 3-4 end in the J.J. Watt mold. And CB Keenan Lewis, never anything special in Pittsburgh, became a legit No. 1 cover man. The Saints will now pair big-ticket free agent safety Jairus Byrd with second-year stud Kenny Vaccaro. That should be a dynamite combo. The worry is run defense. This was a bottom-five unit in yards per carry in 2013, and it still hasn't found consistency from defensive tackle or middle linebacker.
2014 Outlook: Stills is a big reason New Orleans felt comfortable letting Darren Sproles and Lance Moore walk in free agency. As a rookie, he led the league with 20 yards per catch; Josh Gordon was second with 18.9. Of course, a low volume of targets (49) and receptions (32) factored into that, but only two other players since 2009 have caught 30-plus balls and averaged 20 ypc in a season: DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace. Without Sproles or Moore in the picture, more than 20 percent of the Saints' targets from last season are up for grabs. Stills will have to compete with first-round pick Brandin Cooks, but if he can snag his fair share, he'll vault up the WR rankings.