Fantasy Football: How Brees' Retirement Impacts Michael Thomas' Value

How will 2019 Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas fare in 2021 Fantasy Football without QB Drew Brees at the helm of the Saints Offense?
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After a record-setting 149-reception season in 2019, fantasy football managers near and far drafted Saints WR Michael Thomas as high as the No. 1 overall pick ahead of the 2020 fantasy campaign. Expectations were at an all time high for Thomas after posting an outstanding average of 23.4 fantasy points per game in PPR formats in 2019. 

Unfortunately for all who drafted MT this past year, the All-Pro WR suffered from an injury riddled season that sidelined him for 9 games. Thomas' continued inability to stay on the field left fantasy managers frustrated and searching the waiver wire for possible replacements. After offseason surgery and with a new quarterback at the helm of the Saints offense, his return still leaves more questions than answers on his fantasy value heading into this season.

With the 2021 season just around the corner and Drew Brees announcing his official retirement, things may look different from a fantasy standpoint for the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year. The uncertainty at quarterback for the Saints affects not only Thomas’ draft stock but fantasy managers ability to take a gamble on drafting the All-Pro WR in the first-round.

Michael Thomas was a "no-brainer" first-round fantasy draft pick going into the 2020 season. The offensive player of the year reeled 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and averaged 9.3 receptions a game just a year prior. In PPR format, Thomas was scoring at least 9 points a week just from his receptions alone and a total average of 23.4 fantasy points per game. 

That output ranked Thomas 1st in fantasy scoring amongst all WRs in 2019. Thomas' Top-5 WR fantasy season also elevated teams deep into the fantasy playoffs. Of the teams who made the 2019 fantasy football championship game in ESPN leagues, 36.1% of those teams rostered Michael Thomas.

But what about Thomas in 2021 with a new QB running the offense in New Orleans?

Michael Thomas TD

In his career, Thomas has played only nine-games without QB Drew Brees. Five of those games with Teddy Bridgewater in 2019 and four games with Taysom Hill in 2020. In his 5 games with Bridgewater, MT averaged 23.02 PPR fantasy points.  He averaged 16.1 PPR fantasy points in his 4 games with Taysom Hill. In a fairly large sample size of life without Drew Brees, Thomas’ output should keep him among high-end WR1s with either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill in 2021.

Due to the uncertainty at quarterback for the Saints, Thomas’ fantasy draft value may have him fall to the mid to late 2nd round. However, his ceiling still remains as one of the top fantasy wide-outs. Without Brees, Thomas has proven he can continue to post similar production to his first four NFL seasons and help lead his fantasy managers to regular season and post-season success.

Keep an eye on Thomas throughout your fantasy draft and if possible be patient, as he may fall a little more than you think after a lackluster 2020. Now at full health, Thomas will continue to be a must start wide receiver every week as he’ll remain New Orleans’ primary target at the wideout position in the 2021 season. 

Saints News Network Intern Joe McGuan contributed this article.

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