While nothing can be official until March 9th, it is starting to sound very likely that Julius Thomas will be suiting up in aqua and orange next season as he moves his way just a little further south to Miami, Florida. As with any player movement in the off season you always need to ask yourself one thing, “What is the fantasy impact?” And I am here to help you out.
Thomas has been a bit of an enigma in the NFL over the past few years. His 2016 season didn’t show much fantasy hope as he played in only nine games, racking up 30 receptions for 281 yards and four touchdowns. His 2015 wasn’t that much better, falling short of 500 yards in 12 games, and catching only five touchdowns. All-in-all Thomas played just 21 games during his two-year stint in Jacksonville, contributing a paltry average of 3.6 catches, 35 yards, and 0.4 touchdowns per game. Stats that don’t exactly scream TE1.
Now let’s go back to Thomas’ previous run with the Denver Broncos. Drafted by the Broncos in 2011, Thomas was nonexistent his first two years in the league, but in 2013, something clicked. From 2013 to 2014 Thomas became one of the top tight ends in the league. In 27 combined games, Thomas accumulated 108 catches, 1,277 yards, and 24 touchdowns. That’s right, Thomas almost averaged a touchdown a game when he played in Payton Manning’s high powered Broncos offense.
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Now we come to our dilemma. Which Julius Thomas is going to show up in Miami? Will it be a Jaguar averaging 35 yards a game, or a Bronco who is going to produce a touchdown almost every time he steps on the field?
Here’s what we do know. Obviously, Payton Manning had something to do with the success Thomas had in Denver. Also, as much as I am a Ryan Tannehill fan, I know he isn’t Payton Manning, and as much as I would love to argue that he is a decent upgrade over Blake Bortles, that is another argument for another day. At the least, we can agree Tannehill is no worse than Bortles. In my opinion, the true x-factor in this conversation is a man named Adam Gase. The same Adam Gase that was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos from 2013-2014. The same span of time where Julius Thomas had his best two years as a pro. The same Julius Thomas who is potentially heading down to Miami to fill a huge gap at tight end for Miami. The same Miami who has an offense being called by Adam Gase. Catch the trend?
Just picture this. Miami has the potential to have a hard-nosed workhorse running back in Jay Ajayi. If they can find a way to bring back Stills (which sources say they want to do), they will have a young three-headed receiving core consisting of Still, Landry, and Parker. Throw in a quarterback who has tons of arm strength, and then add the play caller who got the most out of Thomas in his career. There is potential for him to have a lot of room in the middle of the field for an up-and-coming Miami Offense. I’m not going to go as far as to say Julius Thomas is going to be a top five tight end in 2017 (if he can stay healthy), but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it happened either. If you’re a fantasy player who likes taking risks, take a risk on the 28 years young Julius Thomas in 2017, and it might just pay off.
Thanks for reading!
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