Emmanuel Sanders Fantasy Football Outlook Without Michael Thomas

Emmanuel Sanders Fantasy Football

News broke today that the New Orleans Saints put wide receiver Michael Thomas on Injured Reserve. This is just the latest in a string of issues related to the star wideout that has limited him to just seven games this year. Emmanuel Sanders will now be the top wideout target for Drew Brees in his first game back from injury. What does Thomas’ absence mean for Sanders during the fantasy football playoffs?

Fantasy Football: Emmanuel Sanders Outlook without Michael Thomas

Games Without Thomas

After injuring his ankle in Week 1, Thomas missed the next six games, leaving a clear path for targets open for Sanders. Sanders also dealt with injuries of his own but appeared in the first four games that Thomas was out.

He didn’t see immediate success. In Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sanders was limited to just one catch for 18 yards. However, in each of the next three games, Sanders was a great fantasy start, seeing his targets, catches, and yards increase each game. This culminated in a game where he saw a whopping 14 targets, which he converted into 12 catches for 122 yards.

Even with Sanders’ dud game included, that put him as the WR24 during that span, so he was a borderline WR2. Because of his low floor, he isn’t someone fantasy football managers really want to put in their lineups, but he at least has a decent ceiling in half-PPR since he should garner targets and catches.

Upcoming Schedule

At first glance, Sanders’ week 15 matchup seems as juicy as it gets. The Saints go up against the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a matchup both teams desperately need in order to stay in the race for the number one seed – and a first-round bye. It is a game where fireworks are likely and most expect it to be a high-scoring affair. However, according to Yahoo Sports, the Chiefs give up the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.

The Chiefs defense is better than advertised against wide receivers, meaning those that do start Sanders should temper expectations. The Saints could end up focusing on taking advantage of matchups – opting to get running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook involved in the passing game.

In Week 16, the Saints match up against the Minnesota Vikings. This is a game that looks much better on paper for Sanders, considering the Vikings’ defense is terrible this year, especially against wide receivers. They are allowing the third-most points to wide receivers this year.

Looking at these two games, ideally, fantasy football team managers that have Sanders will want to try to sit him this week. Then they can slot him in during the fantasy championship if they move on.

Emmanuel Sanders Overall Fantasy Football Outlook

The biggest question mark for Sanders is obviously the health of Brees. He was surprisingly announced to be returning from his rib injuries this week. Taysom Hill has started in his place, getting the job done for the most part, but looking up and down. However, he at least did enough to allow Thomas to succeed in fantasy, as Thomas only had one game with under ten points the past four weeks.

But how will Brees fare? For one, his arm strength already looked to be waning during the weeks he was starting. And how will his ribs hold up? He might have some rust to knock off as he returns to the lineup.

Still, fantasy players shouldn’t feel too worried, as Brees’ game plays to Sanders’ strengths nowadays anyway. Like Brees, Sanders is also in the twilight of his career. He doesn’t have the top-end speed he used to, but he is as savvy as ever with his route running, which is part of the reason he had four straight games with over 10 fantasy points.

Sanders is risky, but if players have to start him, there are much worse options out there.

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