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Fantasy Alert: Saints' Michael Thomas Looks 'Excellent' in Return from Ankle Injury

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 5, 2022

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Reports out of New Orleans Saints training camp regarding the health of wide receiver Michael Thomas are hugely positive.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Thomas looked "excellent" and "awesome" in what he referred to as a "high-level practice" on Friday:

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

What's the feel at Saints camp?<br><br>"Michael Thomas looked EXCELLENT today.. I think the Saints are a playoff team" ~<a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RapSheet</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PMSLive?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PMSLive</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Saints?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Saints</a> <a href="https://t.co/1nj37ZBa4R">pic.twitter.com/1nj37ZBa4R</a>

Thomas was among the NFL's best wideouts over his first four seasons, but he played in only seven games in 2020 due primarily to an ankle injury and missed the entire 2021 season after undergoing ankle surgery and experiencing a setback.

Prior to injury issues derailing things over the past two seasons, Thomas opened his career with four consecutive seasons of at least 1,100 receiving yards, earning him three Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro selections.

The 2016 second-round pick out of Ohio State first reached elite status in 2018 when he led the NFL in receptions with 125, yielding 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns.

In 2019, Thomas led the league with 149 catches and 1,725 yards, plus he scored nine times, earning him NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Before getting shut down for the remainder of the season, Thomas was limited to just 40 grabs for 438 yards and no touchdowns in seven games in 2020, which was quarterback Drew Brees' final NFL campaign.

The Saints cycled through multiple quarterbacks last season, including Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, but none of them had Thomas to throw to.

In the wake of Sean Payton retiring as head coach, Dennis Allen has taken over, and all signs point toward him rolling with Winston as his starter under center in 2022.

While Winston is nowhere close to the quarterback Brees was during his career, he is a competent signal-caller who put up some huge numbers in 2019.

During his final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2015 No. 1 overall draft pick led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and threw 33 touchdown passes, although he also threw a league-worst 30 interceptions.

Winston helped both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans finish with over 1,000 receiving yards that season and they combined for 17 touchdowns as well. Both players were also named to the Pro Bowl.

That suggests Winston will be able to get some big numbers out of his receivers in New Orleans this season, and Thomas could be the main beneficiary.

With the return of Thomas, plus the selection of Chris Olave in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft and the signing of Jarvis Landry in free agency, the Saints' receiving corps should be greatly improved in 2022, and there is enough talent to direct some attention away from Thomas.

Currently, Thomas' ADP (average draft position) in Yahoo fantasy football drafts is 87.0, which places him in the middle of the ninth round.

Given his resume, a clean bill of health and what Winston was able to do in Tampa, Thomas could be the biggest steal in fantasy football and deliver close to WR1 production from the middle of the draft.

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