Demaryius Thomas Fantasy Football Caution


Demaryius Thomas has ranked in the top four of fantasy football points for three seasons running and checks in as the second-best fantasy wide receiver over the past two. However, fantasy nuts may want to be a little wary of how they use Thomas this season.

ALSO ON SPIN ZONE: Where Does Demaryius Rank Among NFL’s Best WRs?

Before throwing out the fantasy and football logic of why drafting — or starting — Thomas too early might come back and bite you this year, remember, the man also just got paid.

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If history has taught us anything regarding players who land their mega-contract, it’s that their production will typically decline the following season. With Thomas however, his dip in production will likely come from more than just getting fat and happy.

Peyton Manning looked weary, downtrodden and noodle-armed by season’s end last year.

While some of that definitely had to do with the thigh injury Manning suffered in week 15 against the San Diego Chargers given that he uses the lower half of his body more than any other quarterback in history — the man was simply spent — and isn’t getting any younger.

As Manning enters his year 39 season keep in mind he threw 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions over the final seven weeks of last season. Half of those games coming before the leg injury.

Head coach Gary Kubiak has also been on record saying that he will not only save his aging first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback from wear and tear in training camp, but in the season as well stating: “we have a plan, and we’re going to stick to that plan,” to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold

With Kubiak’s firm commitment to the run game via his zone blocking scheme and an even firmer commitment to preserving his aging star’s arm for a postseason run, expect to see less targets and production for Thomas during the early part of the season by design.

That’s not to say that the Broncos couldn’t get behind in a game and have to ditch the run early in the year, but even then, Thomas may not be the target Manning turns to first.

Last season Thomas caught only 60.3 percent of balls thrown his way and was second in the NFL with 10 drops. Meanwhile his counterpart Emmanuel Sanders had zero drops on over 140 targets while catching 101 balls to net a catch percentage of 71.6 percent.

Nov 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) celebrates with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It’s more than just the dissuading numbers that might cause Manning to turn the other direction however. Teams view Thomas as the No. 1 option and will undoubtedly focus their safeties his way in single-high sets as well.

Before Sanders tweaked his hamstring in training camp, he earned Manning’s trust via numerous play-action deep post patterns while looking fast and sure-handed in the process.

This route and play call combination which resulted in Sanders streaking past Broncos defensive backs is something Kubiak implements regularly in his offense during games.

Yes, Thomas is still a top-tier wide receiver in the NFL but don’t sleep on Sanders and be very cautious of drafting Thomas as your No. 1; or on counting on him for too much production early in the 2015 fantasy football season.

Will Reeve is a contributing writer to NFL Spin Zone, you can follow him on Twitter @WillReeveJr or connect with him on Facebook here.

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