Saints vs. Cardinals: Beyond the Numbers fantasysharks.com Tue 8/7/12 9:06 AM13 Comments

Hall of Fame Game: New Orleans Saints 17, Arizona Cardinals 10

New Orleans

Perhaps the most glaring observation made during this game was how little the Saints offensive system will change in 2012, despite the absence of head coach Sean Peyton. New Orleans opened the game putting the ball in the hands of Drew Brees with rapid decision making, marching straight down the field to score a quick touchdown. Those who questioned Brees' 2012 fantasy value got their answer (myself included).

This game also taught us that the Saints will continue to utilize all three running backs in the same roles from last season. Pierre Thomas started the game, garnering most of the carries between the 20s. Darren Sproles entered the mix primarily as the "pass-catching running back," while Mark Ingram finished the scoring drive taking the goal line carry in for a touchdown. Sproles still looks to be the player to own, but the timeshare will continue.

The battle between kicker John Kasay and Garrett Hartley didn't become any clearer. Kasay handled field goal duties going 1-for-2 with a block, while Hartley nailed both extra point opportunities. Whoever emerges has serious fantasy value.

Considering the physical nature in which Jimmy Graham plays the position, we should note the Saints' backup tight end looks to be Michael Higgins. Although miniscule now, put this in the back end of your notes, especially if Graham is your starting tight end exiting the draft.

Arizona

Exiting last season, and throughout the offseason, the hot topic coming out of Arizona has been the quarterback competition. As expected, Kevin Kolb started the game only to throw an ugly interception on his first pass attempt after failing to recognize the coverage of Malcolm Jenkins. On the Cardinals' third possession, Kolb would be hit hard and forced to leave the game with an injury the Cardinals are calling a rib contusion (fancy word for bruise). We should remember that Kolb has never played more than nine games while struggling with numerous injuries ranging from turf toe all the way to concussions (get it, head to toe).

Replacing Kolb was third-year player John Skelton. During my offseason breakdown of the Cardinals, I noted that Skelton proved to be the superior player in 2011 while increasing the value of all Cardinals' offensive players, especially Larry Fitzgerald. Skelton did not disappoint. He correctly read the Saints defense, adjusting the play and making accurate throws in the face of ...