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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Michael Thomas, formerly No. 40

Michael Thomas would have come in at 40 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas runs after a pass reception against Minnesota Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo during the first quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Change is the nature of the NFL beast and during our Top 75 countdown we’ve already had new of Cam Akers missing the season and Michael Thomas missing a big chunk of the season. We were able to keep the countdown going by moving Darrell Henderson up, but Thomas’s ankle surgery doesn’t have any such loopholes at this point in the countdown.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

The official fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 40, Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, WR

Thomas dealt with ankle injuries all last season and tried to heal his problems with rest and rehab, but he eventually had to have surgery in June. He’s now got a wide timetable to return, but it looks to be from Week 4 to Week 8 of the season.

Competition for touches

While Thomas is out, either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston or both will be throwing to a rag-tag bunch of wide receivers. Tre’Quan Smith is the “veteran” of the group as far as usage goes, but no single receiver is set up to be a target hog while Thomas is out.

Team offensive expectations

Sean Payton will likely lean on Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray this season, as he doesn’t have a strong quarterback or set of receivers going into this season. Payton can get offense out of a rock, but he will have limited resources to work with this season.

What’s his upside?

When Thomas returns, he will quickly become the No. 1 target again and should be helpful in fantasy. The earlier the better for your fantasy teams, but he should be guaranteed consistent fantasy points as long as he’s healthy. Don’t skip him if he falls far in drafts.

What’s his downside?

Thomas’ downside is tied to when he can return to the field and if Hill or Winston are able to show an ability to move the ball through the air. We know he’ll get a ton of targets, so his floor should be high when he returns, but the Saints offense is a mystery wrapped in an enigma right now.

Projection

It’s impossible to give a true projection for Thomas until we have a better idea of when he might return.