Michael Thomas came out of nowhere to be one of the top steals of the season in fantasy last year. In most leagues, he was available after the tenth round, and in many, he even went undrafted. He went on to rack up 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns off of 93 receptions. There is no doubt he outperformed his expectations, but this year is a different story.
Why Michael Thomas is Being Drafted Way Too High
After finishing as the WR8 in standard formats (The Football Database), his ADP is now in a whole new stratosphere. The New Orleans Saints wideout is now consistently rated as the WR7, and about the 15th player overall in standard scoring (Fantasy Pros). But after only one year of productivity, is it really worth the risk to use such a valuable second round pick on him?
This isn’t to say that Thomas is going to have a bad year. In fact, he should be expected to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. But there are a couple receivers I’d take over him. Some of those players are guys with similar ADPs like Dez Bryant and T.Y. Hilton, but there are even some pass catchers with much lower draft grades who warrant consideration, like Terrelle Pryor or DeAndre Hopkins.
Guys Guaranteed to Outperform Him
One of those players is Dez Bryant. He is running under the radar because he’s been hurt the past few years, but he came on strong once he came back, and has adjusted his game to fit in with the new offense that Dak Prescott and company are leading in Dallas.
Bryant’s productivity cannot be denied, as he has finished with over 1,200 yards receiving and at least 12 touchdowns three times in his career. In the 12 games he played in 2016, he scored eight touchdowns, just one less than Thomas scored all year. (NFL)
Bryant has the pedigree to outperform Thomas this year, and that’s not even considering the fact that Ezekiel Elliott is out the first six games of the season, which will likely force Bryant to step up even further. He might just be the X-Factor that takes your team to the playoffs.
Another guy who isn’t getting the respect he deserves is T.Y. Hilton. People are forgetting that he actually led the league in receiving yards last season, and finished as the WR5 in standard scoring.
Hilton is another guy who has been a victim of injuries, just not his own. He has seen his stock has take a hit the past few years because of the health of his quarterback, Andrew Luck. There are conflicting reports on just how soon Luck will be back, but he will be back in time for the fantasy playoffs, and that’s all that really matters anyway.
Like Bryant, Hilton has a history of being an elite receiver. Even with Jurassic quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throwing him the ball most of the year in 2015, Hilton still managed 1,124 yards. These numbers are about the same as Michael Thomas had last year. Aside from that he has multiple 1,300 yard seasons (NFL). Considering all this, don’t let him be just a ghost on your fantasy radar.
Better Value, Similar Numbers
One thing I really do not like doing anyway is drafting wide receivers in the first two rounds. Compared to running backs, there is a plethora of viable receivers available in the middle rounds that usually post similar numbers to many of the wideouts drafted in earlier rounds.
In comparison, there is a huge drop-off in production for running backs outside the top ten, so it’s usually good to go with dual running backs in the first two rounds. Thomas’s 15OVR ADP means he likely goes in the second round, something that just does not make sense for a guy with just one good year.
Go for a Quarterback Instead
Ok, so he’s not a quarterback – anymore – but if you want to draft a guy based on potential growth and only one year of productivity, look no further than former Raider signal caller turned pass catcher, Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor may not have finished close to Thomas in terms of fantasy numbers last year, but his yardage totals were similar. He somehow managed to eclipse 1,000 yards in his first EVER season playing wide receiver in organized sports.
He did this with a carousel of quarterbacks on the worst team in the league. Pryor was never the best quarterback, but at times he could have outperformed some of the guys throwing him the ball. Now he has one full season of starting under his belt, and a huge upgrade at quarterback in Kirk Cousins.
Pryor’s ADP in standard is WR15, or about 32OVR (Fantasy Pros), so if you want to focus on snatching up valuable, yet scarce running backs in the first couple rounds, Pryor is a guy who can give some value in later rounds, and is likely to have similar stats to Thomas.
Speaking of the Browns, Pryor is letting out a sigh of relief that he got out of Cleveland, because one of their quarterbacks, Brock Osweiler, destroyed the season of one elite WR, causing his draft stock to plummet further than the Bills’ fans hope for this season.
I’m talking about DeAndre Hopkins, the top fantasy receiver of 2015. Hopkins is looking at an ADP of WR13, or 27OVR, meaning you can scoop him up in the mid to late third round (Fantasy Pros). He left a bad taste in people’s mouths last year, but he was a victim of the Garbage Man-Brock effect.
Even if he doesn’t return to his ridiculous 2015 form, all we need to see is Hopkins climb back up to having numbers like his 2014 season. That year, he had 1,210 yards and six touchdowns (NFL) to give him similar numbers to Thomas, for much better value. Now that Osweiler has been sent packing, there is no doubt this will happen.
Touchdowns in the NFL are very fickle and vary greatly from year to year for players. If we take away Thomas’s touchdowns, and just look at his yardage, his numbers don’t stand out enough to warrant a second round grade on him. This is the main reason that I refuse to accept Thomas’ ADP. There are simply better, more proven options out there, so go get them.