Michael Thomas was dominant in 2018, it’s no surprise he’s a popular draft pick heading into the upcoming season. However, there are a number of reasons I’m fading him completely at his current average draft position.
Drew Brees’ declining pass volume
Upon Drew Brees’ arrival in 2006, the New Orleans Saints became one of the league’s most prolific passing attacks. Brees met or surpassed 650 pass attempts in seven of those 13 seasons. So it stands to reason we’ve become accustomed to viewing the Saints in that manner. Those days are over. In 2016, Brees threw it 673 times. From 2017-18, his pass attempts fell to 536 and 489 (15 games). I’m firmly entrenched in the belief that this is the new offense. If not for brutal misfortune in two consecutive seasons, the Saints could’ve been in two Super Bowls. For my money, they’re not changing their balanced system — Brees is north of 40 after all. This is the most important factor in my fading of Thomas because less volume means less margin for error.
Unsustainable catch rate
Thomas compiled a catch rate north of 80 percent in 2018. (My calculation is 85.0 percent based on Pro Football Reference data, Team Rankings has him at 82.9 percent. The sentiment remains the same.) Since 2009, Austin Collie (Colts 2010) is the only other wide receiver to catch 80-plus percent of his targets. I’m not willing to bet on a repeat of that degree of hyper-efficiency.
Sharing is caring
I’m not quite as bearish on Thomas repeating his 28 percent target share in 2019 considering he also handled a 27.8 percent clip in 2017. However, with such a large piece of the pie, he’s the one who stands to lose surplus with the arrival of Jared Cook and presumed development of their young receivers. It doesn’t feel like a stretch to suggest a 25-26 percent target share is entrenched among his reasonable range of outcomes.
CWi Final Word: Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas’ price tag is based on the assumption that he’s a safe bet to repeat unsustainable peripheral numbers in an offense that wants to establish the run. While Thomas’ floor may be one of the most stable in the game, he’s closer to a sub-100-catch, sub-1,200-yard season than his ADP suggests. If he proves me wrong, I will tip my cap. But I’m not willing to buy into a player/situation that requires such a level of hyper-efficiency just to return even value. Especially not when I can invest in the much more explosive ceilings of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and Juju Smith-Schuster.
CWi: 25 | Y! ADP: 14.1 | FFC: 10.8