Michael Thomas was an absolute beast in 2019, as he set the record for receptions with 149 on 185 targets and accumulated 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. The Saints will bring back their 2019 offense with the addition of free agent signee Emmanuel Sanders to once again put up big numbers on offense in 2020.
As the 2020 NFL Draft nears, DraftKings Sportsbook has given us over/under totals on passing, receiving and rushing yards for individual players. Thomas’ over/under for receiving yards in 2020 is set at 1,500.5.
Prediction: Under 1,500.5
Last season was most-likely an outlier for Michael Thomas, but what an outlier it was! Even if he doesn’t repeat his huge numbers, he’s set up for another strong season. The question is, will he be able to hit 1,500 yards in 2020? The answer is, of course he can, but, will he?
Thomas is still young, so his history isn’t a huge indicator of how he will do, but in his first three season he caught 92 passes for 1,137 yards, 104 for 1,245, and 125 for 1,405. Thomas will always have a huge target share in New Orleans, but there is a strong chance it falls this season.
Thomas hasn’t had a receiver as good as Emmanuel Sanders since Brandin Cooks his rookie season. Since then, the only other wide receiver to hit 70 targets was Ted Ginn. Alvin Kamara has been the biggest threat to Thomas’ targets over the last three seasons, as he’s averaged around 100. Even wafter missing two games last season and playing at less than full health, Kamara hit 97 targets based on the Saints lack of receivers, which is why Thomas’ numbers were pushed so incredibly high. His 186 targets last season beat his previous high of 149 by 37.
This year the Saints will add Sanders to the mix, who should easily get to 80 targets or more, likely topping any non-Thomas wide receiver over the last three seasons. Kamara will be back and healthy, giving the team more rushing and passing attempts through the running back position. Jared Cook will be in his second season with Brees in the Saints and after a successful 2019 where he missed two games, should be called on more.
We also should see less passing all around, as Brees averaged 36 pass attempts last season, his highest since 2016. Brees isn’t getting any younger and hasn’t been at his best in the playoffs of late. The team will look to limit the pressure on his arm and get back up to their normal usage on the ground, which was one of the keys to their only Super Bowl win.
There’s little doubt that the team would rather open their offense up to keep teams guessing. In their upset playoff loss to the Vikings last season, Minnesota allowed seven receptions to Thomas, but kept him in front of them, allowing just 70 yards and no touchdowns. Without stronger targets outside of Thomas, the defense was able to keep Thomas from taking over. The addition of Sanders will make that much tougher this season.
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