by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Saints’ Michael Thomas appears to be among the favored wide receivers as we prepare for 2018 drafts. However, is he really worth the early round draft day cost? Should we be willing to use a second round pick to acquire him?
There are three distinct risks involved in making the selection:
1) Can he repeat his efficiency?
Last season Thomas turned 149 targets into 104 receptions, or a 69.80% completion rate. Of the 30 players with at least 65 receptions, there were only nine players who were better (and the group averaged a 65.93% completion rate). That may not seem like a big number, but a 66% completion rate would knock him down to 98 receptions. Obviously that’s still a good mark, but what if he also gets a few less targets?
- 140 targets at 66% completion = 92 receptions
- 130 targets at 66% completion = 86 receptions
Any regression is going to have an impact and it needs to be monitored closely.
2) Where were the touchdowns?
Despite the heavy workload, Thomas managed to score just 5 TD on the season. That’s obviously a concerning number, especially given his size (6’3” and 212 lbs.). He did score 9 TD in his rookie season, so it’s possible it was just an aberration, though Drew Brees only threw for 23 TD last season. He’s clearly on the downside of his career, so it isn’t a guarantee that he returns to the days of pushing 40 TD and this goes hand-in-hand with the third concern…
3) Will the Saints go with a running back heavy approach?
We started to see it last season:
- Mark Ingram – 230 carries + 58 receptions
- Alvin Kamara – 120 carries + 81 receptions
That’s nearly 500 touches from your two running backs, and considering they combined for 25 TD it’s easy to explain why Thomas failed to find the end zone often. It’s also easy to envision it being a problem that continues.
This isn’t to say that Thomas isn’t going to be a productive player, but that seems like an awful lot of risk for a player who is nearly being selected in the first round (14.2 average ADP). At that type of price you want to make sure you are going to get production, and it’s easy to envision him falling far short of the expectations. If he slips to the bottom of the second round or early third round things are a little bit different, but at this price tag we’ll be passing.
Sources – ESPN, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: