Fantasy Spotlight 2017 Player Preview: Michael Thomas

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 27: New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) catches a pass for a touchdown during an NFL game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on November 27, 2016 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Fantasy Spotlight Player Preview Series focuses on players primed to make an impact on your 2017 fantasy football team. This week we profile New Orleans Saints second year wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Fantasy Spotlight 2017 Player Preview: Michael Thomas

2016 Draft

The New Orleans Saints drafted Ohio State University wide receiver Michael Thomas with the 47th pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Thomas was coming off his final college season in which led the Buckeyes in receptions with 54. The Saints, who are always known for having an explosive offense, drafted Thomas with the intention of having him contribute right away. Nearly ten days after the draft, the Saints inked the rookie to a four-year contract worth $5.11 million. More than half of that contact ($2.60 million) is guaranteed. Thomas also received a $1.92 million signing bonus.

Rookie Season

Right out of the gate Thomas and the Saints were a perfect match. With veteran quarterback Drew Brees leading the team, the Saints offense was primed for a big year in 2016. New Orleans wasted zero time getting Thomas in the fold as he was named starting wide receiver alongside Brandin Cooks. Thomas immediately showed the Saints the immense talent he possesses. During the season opener against the Oakland Raiders Thomas caught all six of his targets for 58 yards. The 6’3” receiver found the end zone for the first time in a 45-32 week three loss to the eventual NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. Thomas finished his breakout game with seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.

As the season continued Thomas gained more and more confidence in his play. He also gained the trust of his future Hall of Fame quarterback. Thomas recorded his first 100+ yard receiving game week seven against the Kansas City Chiefs. His first multi-touchdown game came week nine against the San Francisco 49ers. The rookie finished the season leading the team in receptions (92) and touchdowns (nine), while finishing second in yards (1137). Perhaps the most telling stats for Thomas were his home/away splits. The Saints have always been known as a team that thrives offensively at home, but struggled some on the road. Thomas, however was an equal opportunity pass catcher. At home, he finished with 47 catches, 558 yards and four touchdowns. While on the road he recorded 45 catches, 579 yards and five touchdowns. Per playerprofiler.com, Thomas finished as the seventh best wide receiver with 17.2 fantasy points per game. He would also set the Saints franchise rookie records for receptions, yards and touchdowns.

2017 Fantasy Impact

While 2016 was a fantastic rookie season for Thomas, expect 2017 to be even better. With Brandin Cooks now a member of the New England Patriots, Thomas enters the 2017 season as the top receiver for Brees and the Saints. The Saints brought in veteran receiver and fellow Ohio State Alum Ted Ginn to compete with Willie Snead IV to start alongside Thomas. Despite the addition of Ginn, Thomas is set to raise the bar in 2017. Most early mock drafts have Thomas being drafted mid-second to early-third round. If you are not able to grab Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr, or Julio Jones, Thomas is more than capable of anchoring your wide receiver stable for your fantasy team.

2017 Fantasy Spotlight Projections:

Receiving- 98 receptions/1267 yards/11 touchdowns

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