New Orleans Saints: Why Michael Thomas is the team’s most irreplaceable player

Michael Thomas, Saints. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas, Saints. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Thomas’ Previous Production

There is a reason Thomas was going in the top five in most fantasy drafts; his previous production is off the charts. Despite being a second-round pick, the Ohio State product wasted no time making a noticeable impact.

Despite missing a game and not being a huge part of the offense early, he still finished with 1137 receiving yards and 9.4 yards/target. It is easy to forget, but he is a major reason why Brandin Cooks eventually was traded by the Saints; the speedy receiver was frustrated by his lack of targets, which stemmed from Thomas supplanting him as Brees’ preferred target.

From there, Thomas continued to blossom.

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He totaled 1245 receiving yards in 2017 and then developed into a superstar. In both 2018 and 2019, he was named to the All-Pro team and led the league in receptions, and a case can be made for his 2019 stat line as being one of the best for a wide receiver ever.

Not only did he break the single-season receptions record, but he also averaged 107.8 yards per game, posted an elite 80.5% catch rate, and was a consistent chain mover with 91 first downs. Remember, Brees missed five games that season.

Ironically, Thomas never played a major role at Ohio State; he never had more than 800 yards in a season there. However, he certainly isn’t the only receiver from Ohio State to not be properly utilized — Terry McLaurin has been a star for the Washington Football Team but didn’t make much of an impact in college.

This further demonstrates that surface-level college production can not be trusted when projecting a player to the pros, and also shows a way to find undervalued players. Due to his lack of production in college and his limited route tree, many didn’t believe Thomas had “upside”.

However, he had a much higher range of outcomes given the “unknown” with him, and he was able to maximize on his abilities in an organization that has done a tremendous job developing wide receivers.