NFL Fantasy Football: Is Drew Brees a must-play?

Each week, we’ll review a few players being debated as a must-play. Does playing on the road without Willie Snead make Drew Brees a bust risk?

Drew Brees threw for 5,200 yards and 37 touchdowns last season. It is hard to believe anyone would consider benching him for any game, but there is a theory out there that he is not worth playing in away games and certainly not in outdoor games. 

The statistics don’t really bear this out. There have been stretches where New Orleans’ offense has struggled on the road and their defense also had stretches where they boasted the worst road/home splits in the league. Brees’ stats for short periods feed the frenzy of fans who look for a reason to sit him down. A quick Google search will find as many articles proving the home/away theory as there are disproving the theory. 

Last season, Brees’ QBR was 12.5 points higher in New Orleans than on the road. He averaged 1.6 yards-per-pass less on the road and had three fewer touchdowns. Sounds gruesome, doesn’t it? Except for when you consider the bar he sets in his home dome. 

In eight road games last year, Brees completed almost 70% of his passes and averaged 7 yards per play. He threw for 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His road QB rating was 95.7. That’s pretty darned good. 

If that is not good enough to convince you to play Brees, remember they play in Minnesota, who live in a fixed-roof stadium, too. 

So… play him?

Well, he is not only on the road, but he faces last season’s top-ranked NFL fantasy defense. They were pretty good in real-life, too, coming in as the third best defense by yardage and the sixth-best by points. 

Almost everybody came back with another year of experience under their belts. They were supplemented by a couple of defensive additions. The players believe they should make a run at the top-ranked defense by points and yardage in 2017. 

But here’s the thing. The Vikings charged out of the gate last year, starting 5-0. The defense accumulated 57 fantasy points in those five games (11.2/game). After that, they tacked on 55 more points over 11 games, which included games of 18 and 13 points. Even with those big games, their 5.0 points-per-game average was barely better than the league’s DS/T standard (4.55 DS/T ppg). 

This preseason, Minnesota gave up big plays and looked more like the average squad that wrapped up last season than the behemoth that started 5-0. 

To make the situation even better for Brees, the Vikings defense will be preoccupied with stopping their former teammate, Adrian Peterson. Every play-action to Peterson is a potential long completion. 

So, you’re saying…

Play him! Drew Brees is absolutely a must-play. Opening day, in a dome, against an over-rated defense focused on stopping the rusher… it doesn’t get more inviting than that. No Brandin Cooks? No Willie Snead? No problem! Brees has plenty of weapons to make up for them.

Brees has such a high floor that he is a weekly must play, even if he shows up in a cast and an eye patch. Plug him into your lineup and you can be confident he will lead your NFL fantasy team to victory. 

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.