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Michael Thomas Injury: Fantasy Football Rapid Reaction (2021)

Jul 23, 2021

We’re back to provide the rapid reaction to the recent Michael Thomas injury news. Our analysts share how to approach Thomas this fantasy football draft season and other implications to the injury.

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The Details of the Injury

Here are the details of the trade courtesy of our NFL News Desk.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) is expected to miss the start of the 2021 season after undergoing surgery to repair the ligaments in his ankle in June.

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How does Michael Thomas’s injury impact the New Orleans Saints?

It felt like too many people were dismissing Thomas this year, as he was falling into borderline WR2 territory, but now that we know of his ankle surgery that took place in June, he’s going to fall even further. It’s possible he misses the first 4-6 games based on the timeline he received. That’s not the only question mark surrounding Thomas, though. Many wonder who his quarterback will be once he returns. If it’s Taysom Hill, there should be a slight downgrade, but don’t forget what Thomas did in the four Hill games last year: 9/104/0, 4/50/0, 9/105/0, and 8/84/0. Those are rock-solid numbers, though the touchdowns were obviously not there. Right now, I’m expecting Thomas to miss at least four games, which moves him down into WR3/4 territory. If you’re able to stay afloat the first month of the season, snagging Thomas in the middle rounds might be a winning strategy. It seems like everyone forgets he was the consensus No. 1 wide receiver just a year ago.

As for how this injury affects the rest of the team, I think it’s that much more likely Hill is the starting quarterback to begin the year. This obviously gives a boost to Alvin Kamara, who should be in line for eight-plus targets during that time and only solidifies him as a top-five pick. Tre’Quan Smith is now the de facto WR1 for this team during that time, which gives him value for those who want to spend a pick on Thomas in drafts and handcuff him, but don’t be surprised if the Saints go out and add a wide receiver, as they were already weak at the position. Another winner is Adam Trautman, who should now have no issues hitting 80-plus targets this year, giving him TE1 potential.
– Mike Tagliere

Well, we can add to the uncertainty in New Orleans the Thomas injury, and whew, it’s a big one. The early speculation is Thomas will miss the first five games, but this is a surgery that has a FOUR-month recovery window. So the idea that we can accurately assess when Thomas might come back based on his having surgery in June is just silly. Until we hear a firmer timeline with tangible progress for Thomas, he should basically be off your draft board, or at least moved to the very end. There’s a ton of upside, but with an injury that significant, there’s just no reason to waste a substantial pick.

Alvin Kamara should probably see an uptick in the receiving game, but even then, it’s likely going to be less than it was with Drew Brees based on Jameis Winston’s and Taysom Hill’s skill set. Still, it’s a boost to Kamara’s 2021 value, and he moves from No. 6 in my overall rankings in 0.5 PPR formats to No. 5, jumping Ezekiel Elliott. As for Tre’Quan Smith, for the moment, he moves from late-round sleeper to someone with immediate fantasy relevance. But the Saints will undoubtedly add another wide receiver, so it’s not as if Smith suddenly becomes an option to reach for. My early move puts him at WR34, but that’s likely not where he’ll end up once the dust clears and we know the Saints’ plan.

Also moving up is Adam Trautman, who goes from trendy sleeper to likely must-draft tight end. He moves from low-teens to TE12 in my rankings given the expected uptick in targets.
– Dan Harris

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