The New Orleans Saints have really hit on their superstar wide receiver, Michael Thomas. He has been one of the top fantasy wide receivers since coming into the league, and has been a model of consistency. Thomas is coming off a record breaking year, where he is now the all-time receptions leader for a single season. He checks in as the number one projected wide receiver this season, and will be looking to post another monster year. The Saints continue to be a powerhouse for fantasy production, and the addition of Emmanuel Sanders shouldn’t hinder his upside.
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Marvin Harrison held the single season receptions record, and Michael Thomas surpassed those numbers. Thomas dominated PPR formats, and led all wide receivers by a hefty margin. The next closest was Chris Godwin, who finished about 100 points shy of Thomas. The Saints number one led all wide receivers in targets, and once again these numbers were not close. He finished with nine touchdowns for the third time out of his four career seasons. All his numbers have steadily been on the rise since being drafted. While he should creep back down in yards a little bit, reaching 2019 numbers again would not be a surprise.
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Because of Michael Thomas’ stellar 2019 season, we don’t have him breaking his own reception record. However, I do believe he sticks around it. Even with the arrival of Emmanuel Sanders, that isn’t going to have Thomas knocked down in terms of production. This should be helpful for the offense as a whole. New Orleans has been lacking that second wide receiver option for a while now. Thomas projects for the most receptions of any wide receiver and it isn’t close. His touchdown projection shares with a few other, but he leads by a few hundred in projection receiving yards.
Michael Thomas targets and fantasy ranks last three seasons:
2017: 149 targets – WR5
2018: 147 targets – WR6
2019: 185 targets – WR1
— Addison Hayes (@amazehayes_) March 21, 2020
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: Early First Round
Auction Price: $52
In PPR leagues, Michael Thomas is going to be in the mix for a top five pick. He is floating in that range of running backs, and he fully deserves it. Starting off a PPR fantasy lineup with Michael Thomas, who is the best PPR wideout over the last few seasons, you will be in good shape. He gives you that week to week floor that you want from a top pick, and he doesn’t have the injury risk of a running back as well. You can really make the case to take Thomas as early as the second or third pick. His auction price is among the elite names of any position, and you can’t argue against it.
The weekly floor in PPR leagues is unmatched. Averaging 9.3 receptions per game last year, already gave him a near double-digit fantasy floor off receptions alone. Averaging 107.8 receiving yards per game, it added about 19 points per game for Thomas and that is in games where he didn’t even find the end zone. You are not getting this type of floor from anyone else. Factoring in the weekly targets, the offense he plays in, and the quarterback throwing to him, there isn’t a safer option at the position at this point.
It is hard to argue that any other fantasy wide receiver has a higher ceiling than Michael Thomas right now. He has seen 121, 149, 148, and 185 targets over the last four seasons. He also has over 100 catches in three of his first career seasons. 2017 was the only year he didn’t have exactly nine receiving touchdown. Already setting a reception record, breaking Marvin Harrison’s single-season record, hard to top last season. The one area he could see a slight uptick in production is his touchdowns. If he finds himself around 11-12 in addition to the rest of strong receptions and receiving yards, we will be looking at a historic wide receiver season.
New Orleans Saints Offense
The Saints used to be one of the fastest and high volume pass offenses in the game. That has changed, as they will run the ball more with Alvin Kamara, and have also just slowed things down because they are ahead as well. They ranked 31st in pace last season. The offense still averaged the 5th most points per game, and averaged the 9th most yards per game. This Saints team scored 3.2 touchdowns per game, and averaged the 6th most yards per play. There is no issue with the pace here. The Saints passed 60% of the time, which was 13th in the league. They completed 72% of those pass attempts, and this is largely because of Thomas, but the play of Brees/Bridgewater too. This is an extremely efficient offense, and the Saints finally have a WR2 with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders too.
Strength Of Schedule
Michael Thomas has a strong schedule just because he is going to face six weaker secondaries in his division. Carolina’s defense struggled last season, and lost James Bradberry. Their defense as a whole is really going to be a team to target in fantasy. Atlanta and Tampa Bay both had weaker defenses, and so far have not addressed those needs. Thomas put up 296 yards and three touchdowns in two games against them last season. Over his career, he has averaged eight receptions and 97 yards per game against the Falcons, and 118 yards and 9.4 receptions per game against Tampa Bay. In 24 division games for his career, he has 11 total touchdowns.
Outside of the division, the Saints will have a tougher schedule. Thomas has enough volume and production to make him matchup proof. Philadelphia is on the schedule, and the addition of Darius Slay is going to create some fun shadows. The Chargers, Chiefs, and 49ers are also on the schedule and have strong secondaries. None of this is a huge concern for someone like Thomas, mainly because of the volume that he has. His weekly consistency in PPR leagues is the reason why you are drafting him very early.
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