The Many Saints of New Orleans: All-Pro WR Michael Thomas

Football life after Brees for Michael Thomas might slightly change, but expect this Saints player to have high numbers in 2021.
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By the numbers and off-the-field, Michael Thomas had a forgettable season in 2020.  Unless he has another significant injury, I doubt Thomas will duplicate his low production.  With this in mind, hopefully, he stays away from issues in the locker room and with the coaching staff.

Many Saints - Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas 2019 vs. 2020 Statistics

Thomas missed 9 games in 2020

Michael Thomas Stats: 2019 vs. 2020

Stat20192020

Targets

180

54

Receptions

149

40

Receiving Yards

1725

438

Yards Per Reception

11.6

11

Passer Rating Targeted

123.3

89.9

Thomas missed nine games because of a high ankle injury, ligament damage, and a one-game suspension. Indeed, it was a setback for Thomas to repeat his 149 receptions of 2019, but he still posed a problem for defensive backs while on the field. 

The Saints quarterbacks targeted him 54 times and completed the season with a passer rating of 89.9 in his direction. Compared to 2019, their passer rating was 123.3 on 180 targets to the AP 2019 Offensive Player of the Year.  

One interesting fact was the All-Pro wideout's yards per reception rate in 2019 was 11.6 and in 2020 at 11.0, not a significant drop-off at all. During Brees' four-game absence in 2020, Taysom Hill had his passing stats with Thomas. Hill connected 30 out of 37 passes for 343 yards to Thomas at a rate of 41.1%.   

Michael Thomas, Saints Wide Receiver

POST-BREES WITH HILL OR WINSTON

Whether Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston should become the signal-caller for New Orleans, the number of play calls with Thomas as the focal point won't drastically fall. 

PFF's Ian Hartitz wrote, "Thomas has ripped off 92 receptions-1137 yards-9 TD, 104-1245-5, 125-1405-9 and 149-1725-9 receiving lines in his four fully healthy seasons."

From a Fantasy Football projection, Michael Thomas is still an elite threat at wide receiver. The jury is still out on who will become the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers in New Orleans. 

Winston has created synergy with Tre'Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, and Juwan Johnson in several workouts this offseason, but who will emerge at Saints training camp is a mystery.

Sports Illustrated's fantasy expert Michael Fabiano ranked the New Orleans Saints receivers at No. 1 against "strength-of-schedule" opponents' defensive backfields for 2021. 

Projections are speculation, but the players and past output are good indicators for future production. Sean Payton is still calling the plays, and Michael Thomas is still the lead dog at wide receiver in the Big Easy.

An area New Orleans will need him most is to revisit the endzone.  The All-Pro had no touchdowns last year and never recorded double-digit touchdowns in a season for his NFL career.  In order to assist either Hill or Winston, he must make usage of his size, strength, and skill over smaller defensive backs to have a 10+ touchdown season.

Besides having an ego-altering fight and suspension last season, and mix in the injuries, expect Michael Thomas to perform at a high level with a new quarterback under center — remember this one fact, Sean Payton is the play-caller.


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