I am here to tell you about one guy that is deflating my roster boner in nearly every draft I have seen. That is none other than Julius Thomas, tight end of the Denver Broncos. Right now, Thomas has an average draft position of 30.2 according to Fantasypros.com. That makes him the number two tight end behind Jimmy Graham, and puts him right in the middle of the third round in a standard 12 team league. Let me tell you why this is absolutely ludicrous and why you should not fall into that same trap, as other people clearly seem to be doing.
After making your first two draft selections, you should be focusing on running backs, wide receivers, and (maybe) quarterbacks. Thomas should not be on your radar at this point because he does not deserve consideration over guys like Randall Cobb, Vincent Jackson, or Andre Ellington. I promise you, you most certainly can get similar value in the later rounds of the draft. Don’t believe me? Take the blind eye test:
Of these, whom would you rather have? Player A has the most scores, but has the least amount of receptions. Players B, C, and D are all very similar, and appear to be the consistent guys should want on your roster. Those three look to be the safest picks that will produce for your team week in and week out. This leaves us with Player E. Player E does have a lot of touchdowns like Player A, but he also has the least amount of yards and is second to last in receptions.
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Anyone care to guess which one is Julius Thomas? You would not think with all the hype so far, but he is indeed Player E. That does not sound like the same player that has been the second tight end off the board. For reference, A is Vernon Davis, B is Tony Gonzalez, C is Greg Olsen, and D is Jason Witten. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a player that I know will catch balls and get up field instead of a guy that relies on scoring on a weekly basis.
Here’s another another eye opening stat: Gonzalez, Olsen, and Witten all had over 100 targets last season. Thomas only had 89, and Davis was not far behind with 84. But when considering the fact that Denver threw the ball almost 42 times per game versus 26 for San Francisco, it really puts into perspective how valuable those touchdowns were for Thomas. He had the highest volume of opportunities, but still saw the second to least targets. Those are not numbers I want to see in my third round pick, regardless of position.
Now, I will admit that Thomas is a great red zone target for Peyton Manning, but I have an extremely difficult time believing he will surpass, even match, his touchdowns from last season. People need to realize that what Peyton did last year will probably never be done again. There is absolutely no way an aging, 38-year-old player can replicate or surpass those numbers. It was a special season, but Thomas will simply not have the same opportunities against defenses this year.
The bottom line is that people screw up draft day in fantasy football all the time. When you miss on your first three or four picks, it’s damn near impossible to win any league. Whether it is reaching for a guy four rounds too early, or taking a defense before you have a QB, some people refuse to draft smart. Drafting Julius Thomas that early is just not a smart decision. 99% of all draft blunders result from the absolute number one cardinal sin of all fantasy sports: remembering what won a league the previous year.
You need to realize that last year is over and done with now. It means as much as Beanie Babies and being the world’s tallest midget. It does not translate to the upcoming season. Stop trying to chase Thomas’ numbers from last year because they will not be there.
With all that being said, I am 100% okay with having Thomas on my team, but at the right spot. I still believe he is capable of producing top three tight end numbers this year. He should finish within the top five if, and it’s a big if due to his injury history, he stays healthy. My issues are the inconsistency and relying on his touchdowns to make up for the lack of receptions and yards. With the numbers he should produce this season, he should be a late fourth round pick at the absolute earliest. That is why he will not be on a single team I own this year.