Nearly four weeks ago, Saints receiver Michael Thomas suffered an injury — a high ankle sprain late in a Week 1 win over Tampa Bay. Fantasy football managers hope that Week 5 is when Thomas will make his long-awaited return to the field. Playing on Monday Night Football in Week 5, Michael Thomas will get an extra day of rest. However, the Monday night game makes the decision for fantasy managers even more difficult. Can Thomas be relied on as a WR1, or should you use caution and leave him on your bench?

October 11 Update (3:40 PM): Michael Thomas ruled out of Monday’s game

Note: This article was originally published on October 10. On October 11, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Michael Thomas has been ruled out for their game on Monday night. While he was able to log a few limited practices, the team feels it is not worth risking any further setbacks as they have a Week 6 bye week.

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Michael Thomas managed to get in limited practice this week heading into Week 5

Anyone else getting déjà vu, or is it just me? Heading into Week 5, Michael Thomas was a limited participant on Thursday and saw another limited workload on Friday. Last week, Thomas practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He ended up missing that game, saying that he needs to be at 100% before coming back.

Because the Saints play on Monday night this week, they didn’t release their first practice report until Thursday afternoon. The fact that he is limited is a good sign, but as we just saw, we did this same rodeo last week. 

Related | Justin Jackson or Joshua Kelley: What Chargers RB do I start in Week 5?

What is most troublesome is that the Saints have a bye week in Week 6. If the Saints think they can win without Thomas on the field, why play him when he could get two more weeks of rest instead?

But there’s some hope. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Saints have upgraded Michael Thomas’ injury status to questionable for Monday night’s game against the Chargers. Questionable does not mean he is playing — it means Thomas is a 50/50 to suit up.

Knowing the game is on Monday, fantasy managers should have a backup plan ready for Michael Thomas in Week 5

If you plan on playing Thomas in your Week 5 fantasy lineup, make sure you have a backup plan ready just in case — one of the most annoying things to deal with is questionable players that would typically be a must-start playing on Monday Night Football. 

If Thomas does play, he’ll be a low-end WR1 against a beatable Chargers’ secondary. But there is just as high of a chance, if not slightly greater, that he will sit out, and you take a zero if you left him in your starting lineup.

If Thomas can’t play, we would have to look at another player in their game as a potential replacement. I would say to look at the Tuesday night game (yes, there is a Tuesday night game), but there is no certainty that it will even be played.

Related | Raheem Mostert Fantasy Injury Update: Should I be concerned in Week 5?

We could pivot to Tre’Quan Smith, who has been off to a solid start (14 catches on 18 targets for 186 yards and two touchdowns). However, he is not a player who can take over a game while Thomas is on the sidelines. Also, the disappointment of Emmanuel Sanders can not be overlooked. After signing a two-year, $16 million deal in the offseason, it was widely said that Sanders would be the best WR2 that Brees has had in his career.

Unfortunately, that has not come to fruition. Sanders has caught just 14 passes on 22 targets for 182 yards and two touchdowns. A whopping 92 of his yards came in Week 4 alone. He has and will be a WR5 on this offense until something else changes.

So, what should we do with Michael Thomas’ injury status in Week 5?

The team, just like fantasy managers, needs Thomas back in their lineups, especially after likely spending a top-six selection on the 2019 WR1.

The best advice I can give at this moment is to continuously monitor reports on Michael Thomas’ Week 5 injury status, although I’m not sure how much more we’ll find out before Monday afternoon.

If you want to take the guessing work out of your lineups, look for guys like Tee Higgins, Tim Patrick, Laviska Shenault, or Brandon Aiyuk. All of these players are available in over 50% of fantasy leagues and would be excellent plays. I detailed some of these guys in my article talking about Julio Jones’ injury status for Week 5.

None of them have the ceiling that Thomas has in Week 5, but they do have something that he doesn’t have either — a clean bill of health and are all locks to play this week. 

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.