Sean Payton doesn’t participate in fantasy football. Given Payton’s job — running an actual NFL team — that shouldn’t come as a surprise. He does, however, know which player every fantasy football owner should be targeting in this year’s draft. He also made that clear on Tuesday.
“Listen, I think he’s gonna contribute early,” Payton said, per ESPN’s Mike Triplett. ” I don’t follow fantasy football, but shoot, I’d try to have him. I think he’s gonna do well.”
Thomas shouldn’t serve as Drew Brees‘ top target this season, but that shouldn’t really matter. At least not in New Orleans, where Brees finished with the second-most pass attempts (627) among all quarterbacks last year. Brandin Cooks will get his share, so will Willie Snead and tight end Coby Fleener. But plenty of balls will still exist for Thomas.
It’s only August, but so far, so good for Thomas:
As Payton and the clip above made clear, Thomas clearly has a high ceiling — but Payton doesn’t play fantasy football. So, while he told fantasy players to draft Thomas, he didn’t really get specific.
So where exactly should you actually target Thomas? Not in the early rounds. As CBS Sports’ Heath Cummings wrote, there’s a chance that Thomas, a second-round pick, only experiences a mild breakout season:
I see a possibility that Snead is close to what he was last year and Thomas has a mild breakout campaign. That’s just about the worst case scenario. The more positive possibilities involve Thomas becoming the star he looks like at camp, Snead taking another step forward or Drew Brees having the type of year that can support both of them.
The point of Cummings’ column was to highlight options for fantasy football owners who don’t draft a receiver in the first five rounds. Cummings slotted Thomas as a 10th-round pick in that scenario, all because of his upside.