Preseason Player Analysis
What You Need to Know:
- After finishing as the clear WR1 in 2019, 2020 was a forgettable year for Thomas. He tallied 55-40-438-0 in only 7 appearances.
- He wasn’t healthy at all during the season. It started with a Week 1 high ankle sprain. He missed the next 4 games before sitting out Week 5 for disciplinary reasons. (Thomas fought with a teammate at practice.)
- Then came a hamstring tweak at practice. He sat out the next 2 games.
- Thomas, 27, stayed on the field until Week 14, when another ankle injury shut him down for the regular season. He returned to record 5-73-1 in 2 postseason games (all in the Wild Card Round vs. Chicago).
- Thomas underwent early offseason ankle surgery. HC Sean Payton said the team is still monitoring the ankle, while Thomas (as of June) is still getting treatment.
- Taysom Hill started 4 games in place of an injured Drew Brees. In those, Thomas saw a 32.4% target share. His per game averages: 9.25 targets, 7.5 catches, 85.7 yards, 0 TD.
- From catch rate to yards after catch to yards per route run, Thomas’ numbers slumped across the small sample. Clearly, injuries played a huge role.
- The Saints will hold a QB competition between Jameis Winston and Hill in training camp. While Hill started each game in place of Drew Brees last year, our money is on Winston as the Week 1 starter. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has called Winston the favorite.
- Thomas, who’s dominated on slant routes with Brees, will almost certainly see an accuracy downgrade. Per Larry Holder of The Athletic: Winston’s catchable ball percentage on slants dropped from 80% in ’18 to 61.1% in ’19.
- Winston, who underwent lasik eye surgery last offseason, at least has a full year in HC Sean Payton’s system.
- No matter who’s under center, Thomas projects for high volume. Our numbers have him at 159 targets — 5th-most league-wide.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Only 27, Thomas is coming off a tough-luck 2020. A declining Drew Brees, a slew of injuries and a suspension ruined any hope of repeating a sterling 2019.
2021 brings some questions under center. But there’s no doubt Thomas will be fed in year 6 with Sean Payton. If Thomas’ Round 3 ADP holds, he’ll be a strong target thorough the summer.