It’s hard to think of a bigger fantasy football bust than New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas. Coming off one of the best seasons in fantasy history, most expected Thomas to be a top-three receiver, at the very worst. Instead, the former second-round pick has battled injury and hasn’t been too effective when on the field.
Even with the recent struggles, Thomas is too good to bench under normal conditions. However, conditions are no longer normal. Drew Brees is on the injured reserve, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Taysom Hill will start over Jameis Winston. The 30-year old Hill is anything but a proven commodity and now has complete control over Thomas’ fantasy value. Can you trust the superstar receiver with Hill, or should fantasy owner pivot somewhere else?
Fantasy Football: Michael Thomas Outlook With Taysom Hill
Michael Thomas Himself
First off, we need to figure out whether we can trust Michael Thomas himself. Even with Brees, Thomas hasn’t been great this season. Thomas suffered an injury late in Week 1, but still only recorded three receptions for 17 yards. Since coming back, Thomas has recorded just seven receptions for 78 yards in his two games of action.
This obviously isn’t good, but there are some encouraging underlying numbers. For one, his snap share in on the rise. Thomas returned to the field in Week 9 and played in 55% of snaps during a blowout victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One week later, he played in 78% of snaps while seeing seven targets.
Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain and a hamstring injury early in the season. Even when back on the field, it’s not uncommon for players to need a couple of weeks before returning to form. Based on his snap count and targets, it’s clear New Orleans still wants him to be the focal point of the passing attack. Thomas’ role isn’t going anywhere, so now the question is whether or not you can trust Taysom Hill to operate in this offense.
The New Orleans Saints Offense With Taysom Hill
Before we start, let’s acknowledge that we’re dealing with a small sample here. Throughout the course of his career, Hill has completed 10 of just 18 passing attempts for 205 yards and one interception. Mohamed Sanu entered the season with more career completions than Hill.
That said, we do have a decent idea of who Hill is based on his college and preseason tape. Based on what he’s shown, Hill is a dual-threat quarterback who is more Tim Tebow than Kyler Murray. The former undrafted free agent isn’t that accurate on the move and struggles to read defenses, but is capable of using his mobility to create open throwing lanes while finding his first read.
Hill’s biggest strength is his legs, and Sean Payton is one of the best offensive minds in the league. Chances are, Payton will use Hill’s mobility as much as possible while scheming up RPO’s and play-action bootlegs. This run-heavy approach is not good for Thomas, as there will be fewer targets to go around. The good news is that Thomas runs a lot of high-percentage underneath routes, and those will be harder to cover with linebackers cheating up to stop the run.
Ultimately, Thomas is no longer a top-five receiver with Taysom Hill. Brees is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league, and his chemisty with Thomas is unparalleled. However, that doesn’t mean Thomas is completely useless with Hill. While the volume will be lower, Hill’s rushing ability should create some easy connections over the middle of the field. Look for Thomas to be a mid-level WR2 against a subpar Atlanta Falcons defense.
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