First, it was the news Cam Akers was out for the year. Now comes news that Michael Thomas will miss the first several weeks of the 2021 NFL season after undergoing ankle surgery in June. According to Ian Rapoport, the recommended timetable for recovery is four months. That means Thomas could miss all of September and maybe into October, depending on when he had the procedure in June. Obviously, this puts a huge dent into Thomas' fantasy appeal and the Saints' offense (when have we heard those words?)
The top wide receiver in fantasy football in 2019, Thomas missed nine games last year and was considered one of the season's biggest disappointments. I still had him ranked among the top 10 receivers heading into this season, but that will have to change drastically. At this point, he's a draft-and-stash pick in the middle to late rounds.
With Thomas out of action, Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray could see a ton of extra touches. In eight games with Thomas on the sidelines last season, Kamara averaged close to nine targets and 30.9 fantasy points. While Jameis Winston doesn't have much of a track record of throwing to running backs, Kamara will be the unquestioned centerpiece of the Saints offense as long as Thomas is out. He remains a top-five pick.
Speaking of Winston, he'll be tough to trust even in DFS action without Thomas. In a situation where he’s not even guaranteed to earn the starting job with Taysom Hill also in the mix, the former Buccaneer won’t be worth more than a late-round flier in drafts.
The Saints don’t have a ton of depth at wide receiver, as Tre’Quan Smith will be the de facto top option with Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey behind him on the depth chart. Smith might be a potential WR4 option or flex starter in your starting lineup while Thomas is out; however, he's also no lock to be productive based on his prior lack of statistical success. Smith's opportunity is very appealing though, depending on how high he climbs in average draft position.
The absence of Thomas is also good news for tight end Adam Trautman, who is considered a deep sleeper in the fantasy landscape. With targets available, he could become a bigger player in the passing game until Thomas can return to the gridiron.
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!