WR - NO
The last time we saw Michael Thomas, he limped to a WR41 finish in fantasy points per game. While this sounds horrendous, much of it is related to the fact he scored zero touchdowns in 2020, as his underlying metrics were still strong. Thomas ranked 24th in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets per PFF) and drew a 27.9% target share in his seven games played. Thomas's health is still up in the air at the time of writing this, with reports that he's still not 100%. With a better supporting receiving class around him now, the Saints could throw the ball more often this season. If Thomas can get back to full strength, he should still be a fulcrum for the New Orleans aerial attack as a target hog.
When Thomas was healthy in 2020 from Weeks 11-14, he commanded a 33% target share, earned a 90.5 PFF receiving grade and averaged an elite 2.86 yards per route run - a mark that bested his career average (2.45).
With Thomas readily available as a fantasy WR3, he's the quintessential late-to-middle-round WR that could make the massive leap back atop the fantasy leaderboards.
8/2: More & more highlights emerging on MT & that he is 100%, both health & attitude-wise. Could go right back to Top-12 status. Buying big.
7/27: Cleared for camp & practicing. HUGE news! Jameis Winston says the two have already bonded over the course of the offseason over their shared missed 2021 & desire to go feast. I love it all!
5/15: Still has "a few hurdles" til he's back to full-strength. When he returns, he now faces more tgt competition w/ Olave & Landry added. Starting to feel "busty," but Winston could still force feed if MT Regains form. For now, in this upside-filled tier, I'm avoiding.
Thomas has done what he could to avoid playing with Brees over the past two seasons. The days of Thomas being considered in the the WR1 range may have passed, but he is likely being undervalued currently in drafts. Early-summer news is that he still has hurdles to clear with his recovery while the Saints have added Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry to the roster.
Michael Thomas has historically been an 85-90% route participation player with targets per route between 26-30%. His range of outcomes for his targets is somewhere between 90-160, I'm going to lean toward the higher side of that range. UPDATE: "Michael Thomas is Michael Thomas...Thomas looked good in his breaks and cuts, which is what was most important. He's jumping off the line in his routes and looks like Michael Thomas. There's a sense of him being rejuvenated being out there, and it shows in a big way." (si.com)
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Rashod Bateman WR-BAL
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