Saints will have crowded backfield next season

The Saints have been making rampant player moves this week, inking DT Shaun Rogers to a one-year contract and agreeing to terms on a five-year deal with kicker Garrett Hartley. Their latest move has the most fantasy relevance, though, as veteran runner Pierre Thomas has been signed to a new four-year contract.

Last season, Thomas was considered a potential breakout player in fantasy circles. Instead, he broke down — physically — and missed a total of 10 games due to an injured ankle. He also ended up in coach Sean Payton’s doghouse at one point in the year and was ultimately outplayed by rookie standout Chris Ivory. Still, I’d guess that Thomas will top the team’s depth chart in 2011, albeit as part of what looks like an imminent committee.

Barring a setback in his return from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury, Ivory is going to see more than his share of rushing attempts. He showed some real potential last season, and Payton is certain to utilize his skills and abilities to help the ground game and keep Thomas fresh. And don’t forget about Reggie Bush, who is still under contract and will certainly remain in the mix as the team’s best receiver out of the backfield.

While a lot can happen between now and training camp, it’s hard to see Thomas being drafted as more than a No. 2 fantasy runner.

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