The injury news around the fantasy football world isn’t slowing down. We got word Friday that New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas, who missed nine games with an ankle injury in 2020, reportedly underwent surgery in June to repair ligaments in the ankle. He’ll certainly miss Week 1 and it sounds like multiple weeks is likely. This is obviously a huge blow to a New Orleans receiving group that is already very shallow after Thomas.
In games he played alongside Taysom Hill at quarterback in 2020, Thomas saw a 30% target share—over seven games total, Thomas averaged nearly eight targets per game. Per FTN’s advanced passing numbers, 63% of Hill’s passes were thrown on the first read, a top-10 rate in football. And that first read was almost always Thomas. Of course, Jameis Winston could also start at quarterback this season, but regardless of who is under center, Thomas won’t be there to catch passes to start the season.
RB Alvin Kamara was always going to see plenty of targets, but that’s even more true now. He averaged nearly nine targets per game with Thomas out of the lineup last year, and given the Saints lack of depth at receiver, I could see him line up in the slot quite a bit to open the season. It is difficult to not move him to the 1.03 in most drafts, especially PPR formats. Meanwhile, Tre'Quan Smith is now the top receiver on the depth chart until Thomas returns (or the team adds someone from outside the organization), and while his ADP will rise, I’m not sure how much his target share will. His role likely doesn’t change all that much, while the Saints probably end up signing a veteran wide receiver who can operate in the areas of the field that Thomas did. Keep an eye on a veteran like Golden Tate.
Finally, tight end Adam Trautman is a popular sleeper, and this news will only raise the hype. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Trautman could be a very nice red-zone weapon for a Saints team that will need more from its pass-catchers.