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David Thomas: Assessing Fantasy Value for Saints TE with Jimmy Graham Injury

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: David Thomas #85 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images
Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 20, 2012

With news out of New Orleans Saints camp that Jimmy Graham did not make the trip to Tampa Bay this weekend, it leaves fantasy owners scrambling for replacements for the star tight end.

One of the options that makes the most sense is David Thomas, a fellow tight end on the Saints' roster who does most of the heavy lifting by blocking at the position in the run game.

Owned in only 0.1 percent of ESPN standard leagues, Thomas will be a name floated as a late-week pickup if you need someone to replace Graham in your lineup.

Upon closer look, though, it seems as if Thomas has more risk than reward. He's only caught two passes  for 11 yards, not even making a blip on the fantasy radar, and that includes a zero-point performance when Graham went out.

When Graham went down against the Chargers, the primary recipient of the red zone targets was Marques Colston, not Thomas, as reported by Tom Kessenich, manager of High Stakes Fantasy Games for Stats LLC.

Colston was primary Red Zone beneficiary of Graham's absence in Week 5. But that was without Moore. David Thomas had 0 catches. #Saints

— Tom Kessenich (@TomKessenich) October 20, 2012

Not only was Graham sidelined against the Chargers, but Lance Moore was also unable to participate. Those two have largely been the best options for Drew Brees in the red zone, so that's the first reason not to add Thomas in your league.

As Joe Dolan of notes, there are likely better options that are available to add than the backup TE for New Orleans.

Lot of questions about David Thomas. I would use him only if desperate. Would rather play a guy like Brandon Myers.

— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) October 20, 2012

Buffalo Bills TE Scott Chandler headlines this week's list of hot pickups. Jermaine Gresham is also a name being floated, as is Brandon Myers from Oakland.

Simply put, Thomas, the tight end from Texas, doesn't have the fantasy upside that some of his counterparts do in different offenses. That's odd, since New Orleans has one of the most prolific passing games in the NFL.

Lance Moore is returning this week, and while Thomas will certainly get a few looks from Brees, he hasn't been a fantasy starter since 2009. The last time he scored a touchdown was in 2010, long before Graham's coming-out party late in that season.

The Saints will game-plan for Graham's absence with more involvement from their running game, particularly out of the backfield on screens and short passes. Wide receivers like Devery Henderson will also benefit, since he is a down-the-field option for Brees.

It's feast or famine for Thomas, most likely. Should he score a cheap red-zone touchdown, that won't outweigh the potential he has to only catch one or two passes for no fantasy points. Keep searching the fantasy waiver-wire for better options, and if you own Graham, pray his ankle is ready to go next Sunday.

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