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Michael Thomas’ Fantasy Football outlook for the 2022 NFL season

Michael Thomas, Saints, 2022 Fantasy Football

Michael Thomas is set to make his return to the football field with the New Orleans Saints in 2022 after missing the entire 2021 season with an ankle injury. Thomas played spraingly during the 2020 season as well, meaning this is the first time we will really see him in action since the 2019 season, a season in which Thomas put together one of the most dominant campaigns in NFL history for a wide receiver.

Thomas’ return to the field is one of the most exciting storylines around the NFL as training camp has opened up. The Saints have struggled to overcome the loss of one of the top wide receivers in the NFL, and having him back should help their offensive production increase drastically this season.

In terms of Thomas’ own production, there are still a lot of question marks. After all, we haven’t seen him on the field in a year and a half, and during that time there have been a lot of changes to the Saints offense. So how productive will Thomas be for fantasy owners this upcoming season? Let’s take a closer look.

Michael Thomas’ 2022 Fantasy Football outlook

When he’s on the field, it’s tough to find a better receiver than Michael Thomas. His 2019 season was one of the best in NFL history (149 REC, 1725 YDS, 9 TD), and it saw him break the record for most receptions in a single season. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen Thomas come anywhere close to reaching those heights since.

But Thomas will be back on the field in 2022, and is poised to reclaim his spot a top the Saints wide receiver depth chart. Whether or not he can reach the level he was on in 2019 remains to be seen. Thomas has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons, and that instantly clouds up his fantasy football status.

There has also been a ton of change on New Orleans’ offense too. Drew Brees is no longer around, and Jameis Winston is the new guy in town. The drop off in production from Brees to Winston is sizeable, and it could have a huge impact on Thomas’ production this upcoming season.

New Orleans also has a ton of targets for Winston to throw to in the passing game. Behind Thomas, the wide receiver depth chart will be rounded out by 2022 first-round pick Chris Olave and veteran slot wideout Jarvis Landry. Alvin Kamara is also one of the most dangerous pass-catching running backs in the league, and even if he ends up getting suspended for his arrest back in February, his backup Mark Ingram II is a serviceable receiver too.

These guys are all going to take targets away from Thomas. In each of his first four seasons, Thomas had at least 120 targets come his way, with the 185 he got in 2019 being his high. Chances are he won’t hit that total again given all the help he has alongside him, but he could be able to hit 120 targets if he plays all 17 games this season.

Thomas will be the Saints top option in the passing game, and having all this help alongside him will make getting open much easier. But Thomas’ fantasy football outlook depends on himself. Will he be the same player he was before his extended layoff? Missing two seasons can be very detrimental, and it’s worth noting Thomas is now 29 heading into the 2022 season. He basically just lost two seasons of his prime.

Chances are Thomas has still got it, but expecting him to pick up right where he left off is foolish. He’s entering an offense that has changed drastically since the last time he took the field, and he’s going to have to get acclimated to playing alongside Winston and co. rather than Brees. That’s going to take time, but that’s also what training camp is for too.

Thomas has a lot of question marks surrounding him, but it’s tough to think of 30 wide receivers that will be better than him in 2022. If he can assert himself as the Saints go-to guy early and develop chemistry with Winston, Thomas will be in a good spot moving forward. But nobody really knows what to expect from Thomas right out of the gate, which decreases his draft stock. Thomas’ ceiling is as a WR1, but he’s closer to a WR2/FLEX option heading into the season.

Many folks are high on Thomas’ return to the field, which may lead to him getting drafted earlier than he should. Thomas probably shouldn’t get drafted any earlier than the seventh round, but if he reaches rounds 10 or 11, that’s too late and he’s got to get picked. Chances are Michael Thomas is going to go earlier than he should given the excitment surrounding his return, but if he begins to drop down the board, he would be a fantastic buy-low candidate given the WR1 potential that is attached to his name.