One of the biggest quarterback battles around NFL training camps is with the New Orleans Saints between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Regardless of who wins that, he will not have one of the league's top receivers for perhaps the first month-plus of the regular season as three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas had ankle surgery to repair ligaments and the general timetable for a return is about four months – so October. Thomas is/was +1200 at William Hill Sportsbook to lead the league in receiving yards for the second time.
Rather interesting this is coming out now considering the surgery happened in June (why wait so long?). Thomas had at least 1,137 yards receiving in each of his first four seasons, topped a monster 149-catch (NFL record), 1,725-yard, nine-TD effort in 2019 that earned him Offensive Player of the Year odds, his third straight Pro Bowl and second straight first-team All-Pro nod. That was also the second consecutive season Thomas led the NFL in receptions and his first receiving yards crown.
Last year, injuries hampered Thomas and he was limited to seven games, catching 40 passes for 438 yards with no TDs. Apparently, this surgery stems from the original ankle injury that Thomas suffered in garbage time in Week 1 last year vs. Tampa Bay. Needless to say, all sportsbooks have taken down Thomas Over/Under receiving yardage and TD totals for 2021.
The Saints were quite thin at wideout as it was with Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris the primary guys behind Thomas. Emmanuel Sanders was the team's top receiver last year with 61 catches for 726 yards and five scores but signed with Buffalo in free agency. Tight end Jared Cook had 37 catches for 504 yards and seven scores and he's now with the Chargers. The Thomas news absolutely affects the Fantasy Football prospects of top Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who may be used even more as a pass-catcher.
There already are reports the Saints are looking at free-agent receivers. Some potential bigger names still out there: Golden Tate (probably option No. 1), Larry Fitzgerald (likely to either retire or return to Arizona), Dez Bryant (had a cup of coffee with Saints few years ago), Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon (if reinstated).
Keep in mind the Saints will be without excellent defensive tackle David Onyemata for the first six weeks due to suspension and Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore also could be facing a suspension for an arrest earlier this year. New Orleans hosts Green Bay in Week 1 and the Saints were -3 but many books have taken that off the board.
After hosting Green Bay, New Orleans is at Carolina, at New England and home vs. the Giants if Thomas is out until early October.
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