- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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You know Drew Brees is going to be throwing on Monday night. You know the Minnesota Vikings probably won't be able to stop it from happening. However, fantasy owners keep playing a weekly guessing game of pick the New Orleans Saints wide receiver, and sometimes it works out, other times not so much. So, fantasy owners, who is going to star this week -- and beyond?
Ever since Marques Colston left the lineup after Week 1 with a thumb injury, it's been tough to determine who Brees will entrust with touchdown passes. It's hard to fathom now, but fantasy owners were concerned that Colston's injury would affect Brees' value. How silly this looks now, as Brees is the No. 3 player (and quarterback) in fantasy through four weeks, just a few points behind Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers. There's nothing wrong with Brees.
The Saints' wide receiver corps has really stepped up, with no shortage of names to choose from, but have any become fantasy stalwarts we can count on? This is, of course, the crux of the problem. Witness
• In Week 1, Colston caught his only three passes of the season. Reggie Bush stepped up to lead the team in receptions and yards, and he turned a simple screen pass into the 42-yard touchdown that won the game. Deep threat Devery Henderson scored an 84-yard touchdown and possession guy David Patten scored on a 39-yarder. Those last two were the names fantasy owners went with for Week 2, which turned out to be a mistake.
• In Week 2, Bush again led the team in catches and receiving yards, but did not score. Brees didn't have his best game, and his lone touchdown pass went to second-year man Robert Meachem. Oddly, Meachem became the third wide receiver in two games to catch a touchdown pass, but in each case it was the player's lone reception of the game. Again, that just served to tease fantasy owners and prove very little.
• In Week 3, Bush caught 11 passes but was surpassed in receiving yards by Meachem and Lance Moore. Hmmm, that's interesting for fantasy, even though Bush caught the lone touchdown from Brees. Meachem was a big disappointment as a rookie, a first-round pick who didn't even dress for any games. He has breakaway ability, and Brees throws more than anyone, so do the math.
• In Week 4, however, it appears Brees finally found a wide receiver he can depend on. Nothing against Henderson, Patten and Meachem, but Moore seemed to receive special attention in the 31-17 win over the 49ers, becoming the first Saints wide receiver to actually catch more than one pass in a game he scored in. Moore hauled in a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes. Meachem would also score in the same quarter and continued to prove his innate value as a home run hitter. His catches went for 47 and 52 yards.
So who's the wide receiver you want in fantasy? Colston owners certainly would like to know when their high draft pick will return to the lineup (in ESPN leagues he was, on average, selected No. 28). It won't be this week, that's for certain. The Saints are hoping for Week 6 against Oakland, but that might be premature.
The reason why this is a bit more relevant than normal is that the Vikings are not a very good pass defense, but they control the run quite well. Deuce McAllister doesn't appear at all enticing on Monday, but Brees and his receiving pals sure do.
As a result, look for Moore to continue what he established in Week 4. While he doesn't have the same credentials as someone like Meachem, a touted first-rounder with exceptional speed, Moore is a possession receiver who gets open and can still make things happen after the catch. An undersized, undrafted player who played in Europe, Moore gets credited for his work ethic, toughness and sure hands. He spent two seasons on the Saints' practice squad, getting overlooked, but now that he's had his chance, it appears he's going to stick around. The Saints have burners who can get open deep. Soon they will get Colston back, as well, someone who combines all the traits of a top receiver. Moore is smart, and he picked the right time to become arguably Brees' top target.
Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN.com who covers fantasy baseball, football and basketball. He has twice been honored as fantasy sports writer of the year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. His new book, "Top 100 Philadelphia Sports Arguments," was published by Source Books and is available in bookstores. Contact Eric by e-mailing him here.
Eric Karabell breaks down the New Orleans Saints' passing game and discusses which of the receivers have the most fantasy value.