Dynasty is my favorite format in fantasy football for a multitude of reasons, but for starters, its a talent evaluation game. The better you are at identifying talent, the more likely you are to succeed by cashing in on players’ stock. One of my personal biggest hits has been New Orleans wide receiver, Michael Thomas.
You see, many people have doubted Thomas at various points of his career. He was the sixth WR taken in the 2016 NFL Draft, taken in the second round by the Saints. He was selected after WRs Corey Davis, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, and Sterling Shepard, but to me, he was the best wide receiver in the class.
Coming into this NFL season, most fantasy experts had Thomas outside their top tier of players at the position, but to me, he was right amongst those at the top. Few people would argue against the idea that Thomas is in the top tier of dynasty wideouts at this point, but again, I may feel stronger about him than most. Michael Thomas has worked his way up to my number one overall WR in dynasty, and if you keep reading, I’ll explain why he should be yours as well.
I will start by describing to you the pure domination that Thomas has put out on the field. I mentioned the five WRs taken before him in the 2016 NFL Draft. If you take the first four of those (Davis, Fuller, Doctson, and Treadwell) and look at their career stats, Thomas has 5 more receptions, 2 fewer touchdowns, and only 492 fewer yards than the group combined! In the 58 games played to this point (Week 12 of the 2019 NFL season), he has 425 catches for 5,029 yards and 29 touchdowns.
He broke the record for most receptions through the first two years of a career (196) previously held by Jarvis Landry (194). He followed his sophomore season with another 100+ catch season and subsequently broke the record for most receptions through the first three years of a career (321) and has since broken the record for most receptions in the first four years of a career in Week 9. That means that he has seven games to build on the record.
Not only has he broken those records already, but Thomas is on pace to break another record this year.
Michael Thomas now at 104 receptions and on pace for 151 this season, which would break Marvin Harrison’s single season record of 143 set in 2002.
— Rod Walker (@RodWalkerNola) November 25, 2019
Not only does Thomas catch a ton of passes, but he does so with an insane efficiency. He has 425 receptions out of 541 targets. That’s an astounding 79% catch-rate! Odell Beckham Jr., a man most known for making some of the best highlight-reel grabs ever witnessed, has only a 61% catch-rate. Larry Fitzgerald, a future Hall of Famer recognized for his amazing hands (among many other things), has only a 60% catch-rate over his career. The point is, Thomas is one of the best at converting targets to receptions to this point in his career.
Many people like to argue that Thomas is a product of one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in Drew Brees. This year, Thomas was able to put up fantastic numbers with backup QB Teddy Bridgewater when Brees went down for seven weeks with a broken thumb. In those seven games, Thomas averaged 9 catches for 107 yards and .5 touchdowns. Those numbers prorated over a 16 game schedule equal out to 144 catches for 1,712 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those numbers would represent a career-high in receptions and yards and one less touchdown. He was every bit the dominant receiver without the HOF Brees.
Thomas has proven to be one of the best players in the entire NFL, regardless of position.
The dream fantasy player
Thomas has been a steady rock for the fantasy football community since the moment he was drafted. As a rookie, he finished the year as the WR7 overall in PPR. He followed that up with two WR6 performances in the following seasons and is currently WR1 on the year this season. Not only is he on pace to be WR1 this year, but he is doing so in the best possible way.
Many fantasy players, myself included, are not fond of the boom/bust type of players. We like to know what we are getting in our players and don’t feel comfortable with the risk associated with this type of play in most cases. DeSean Jackson, Will Fuller, and even current WR3 Mike Evans and WR4 DeAndre Hopkins, are players that are capable of winning you your fantasy matchup, but also capable of sinking it with a horrible performance. Thomas has a whopping ZERO games in 2019 fantasy football outside of WR2 (top 24 WRs on a week) performances! He has been the most consistent player in the entire fantasy world this year. Not only has he been consistent, but he has the boom in him as well, with seven games of at least 20 PPR points. He is the IDEAL fantasy WR
I’ve told you how dominant Thomas is. I’ve illustrated why he is such a lovable fantasy asset. There is one thing left to discuss: the future. Dynasty is much more than your typical one-year endeavor. It’s the long game that makes a player a real dynasty darling. Michael Thomas has a very bright future ahead.
One thing that can differentiate a good dynasty fantasy player from a great one is the attention paid to a player’s age and contract. Most people think of the age part right away, but few pay attention to contracts. A player’s contract can change a lot about their overall situation with a team. A player that has underperformed in the last year of his contract with a cap-strapped squad is far more likely to switch teams within the next year than a player who has a brand new 5-year deal in place.
Sometimes you want a player to move teams (my Tyler Boyd and Allen Robinson shares come to mind), but sometimes, you’d like nothing more than the team to agree to that five-year $96 million extension with your stud. Thomas is the latter.
This past offseason, the Saints and Thomas came to such agreement, and the contract keeps him in New Orleans until after the 2024 season (unless traded or cut). The benefit of having the deal done is that Thomas doesn’t have to worry about anything other than performing. No worrying about finances, if he will have to move cities, or any of the enormous changes that come with a new team, offensive coordinator, QB, HC, owner, or teammates. At age 26, he’s set to play into his age 31 season with the same team that drafted him.
Speaking of his age, some people might be a little turned off by him being 26 already. Did you listen to that sentence? He’s only 26! Dynasty is the long game as I already said, but you don’t need to worry about age so much that you miss out on a likely 4-6 years of elite production. Thomas is the same age or younger than many of the other options for top-end WRs, like Hopkins, Beckham Jr., Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Tyler Lockett, and Stefon Diggs.
Another long-term benefit that comes with your marriage to Thomas is the team he plays for. The Saints have one of the best offensive minds in the entire game of football as their head coach. Sean Payton is a legend in the bayou and should be a legend to all fantasy football players in general. The man has worked wonders with a variety of situations and an abundance of different players. He’s the mastermind behind the incredibly impressive firepower that you see coming from The Big Easy. Thomas’ contract with the Saints is a promise that unless something drastic changes, you will have the #1 WR for one of the NFL’s geniuses.
Another underrated part of being connected to the Saints is that the NFC South is full of high-powered offenses. What that means for fantasy is that six games of the year are more likely to produce a lot of points. When a lot of points are scored, we in the industry often call that a “bonanza,” because your wealth skyrockets.
Some may be worried that Brees is likely to retire in the next year or two, but again, Thomas has shown the ability to produce magic without him. Teddy B was part of a career-high pace stretch of games for Thomas already this year, and even if he isn’t deemed the long-term answer at QB, I trust Payton to find his next future signal-caller quickly after Brees’ retirement. I have no concerns here.
So are you onboard? Do you agree that Michael Thomas is dynasty WR1? We looked at his record-breaking history, his current dominance, the reason he is an ideal fantasy WR, his contract situation, his age, his QB, and his team. Every single one of these topics should provide confidence, if not a downright excitement, in you making him your #1. If you don’t agree with me, I’d love to hear your reasoning and what WRs you have about this man, but for now, I bid you farewell.
Corey Ashburn is the lead editor of the fantasy and gambling section of PFN as well as a cohost on the Any Given Friday podcast. You can find him @AshburnPFN on Twitter. Let him know your thoughts.