Why is Michael Thomas, 2019’s WR1, regularly seeing the fourth round in fantasy football dynasty startups? There has to be more to it than just there are 14 better receivers to take from a dynasty perspective, because there aren’t. (That’s right, Thomas is going as the WR14 in dynasty startups!)
We shared some of our favorite buy low fantasy football dynasty trade targets on this week’s podcast, but I wanted to dive deeper into why exactly people are ignoring one of the best receivers in the NFL in dynasty leagues.
Is Michael Thomas Old?
Player age is one of the most overvalued pieces of data in dynasty football, and that has to be playing a role in Thomas’ depressed value.
Thomas is 28-years-old with a March birthday, and so he’ll head into his sixth season at the ripe old age of 28. For comparison’s sake, DeAndre Hopkins is 29, Calvin Ridley is 26, Tyreek Hill is 27, Davante Adams is 28.
There is an adage in dynasty that absolutely drives me bonkers, and it goes something along the lines of: I’d rather get out a year early than be a year late on a player.
This sounds really clever. The dirty little secret about this adage, though, is two-fold: 1, it assumes we can see when players are going to hit the cliff (while also assuming our league mates don’t have magic spectacles too), and 2, since we don’t know when that year early really is, you’re resigning yourself to trade your best players away while they are in their prime. You acquire these players to have them in their prime! You play to win the game!
You don’t get points tricking yourself into thinking you have the prettiest “in three years” roster.
Take advantage of owners with this mindset.
Is Michael Thomas “Injury Prone”?
Thomas missed one game in his rookie season, a rookie campaign where he finished as the WR9 in standard and WR7 in PPR. Thomas was then the PPR WR6 in 2017, WR6 in 2018, and the No. 1 WR in 2019. Suffice to say, Thomas has been an absolute fantasy football darling.
Thomas only played in seven games in 2020, battling ankle/hamstring (maybe groin?) issues. Not only did Thomas miss games, he missed games in the worst way. He had a high ankle sprain in Week 1, and for the rest of the season, fantasy GMs had to guess, just about every week, if Thomas was back.
When Thomas did return, he pulled his hamstring and played through the injury which had an obvious impact on his play.
Now, Thomas is carrying the ethereal injury-prone tag, no doubt adding to his discount.
Will Michael Thomas Be Less Productive Without Drew Brees?
This is a legitimate worry as it is a pretty big unknown. I’m on record on the podcast saying I believe Taysom Hill will start the season as the Saints quarterback, and this is a worst-case scenario for Thomas.
However, as worst-case scenario go, this worst-case scenario isn’t that bad. An injured Michael Thomas playing with Hill under center last year (Week 11 to Week 14) still saw almost 9 targets for nearly 86 yards per contest. Hill knew to get Thomas the ball.
If it does turn out to be Jameis Winston as the starting QB in New Orleans next year, we all know Winston’s problem has never been failure to produce in fantasy terms.
Trust Michael Thomas’ Talent
So why is Thomas so cheap? I honestly don’t know. Sure there are a few reasons people could be talking themselves into passing on Thomas. But are any of them really strong enough to make you pass on a dominate wide receiver in his prime?
I took Thomas at 4.10—the 10th pick in the 4th round—in a recent Superflex dynasty startup. I’ll laugh all the way to the bank with that one, folks.