Last season, Demaryius Thomas caught 83 passes for 949 yards and five touchdowns. In fantasy, Thomas finished as the 23rd-best wide receiver in standard scoring. Thomas’ average draft position, as it stands now, sits at 5.06 in 12-team, standard scoring leagues.
The Denver Broncos acquired quarterback Case Keenum, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, this offseason on a two-year, $36 million contract. The Broncos also have the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft, so there’s still a chance they take a top quarterback prospect.
Demaryius Thomas’ 5.06 ADP means he’s drafted, on average, in the fifth round of drafts. That puts him as a team’s WR2 at best or a FLEX at worst. In this case, we’ll assume that Case Keenum is the starting quarterback for the Broncos in 2018 and that Thomas’ value sits as a FLEX wide receiver.
The questions for this case study are:
- 5.06 ADP puts Thomas as a starter. Is he capable of that?
- Is it correct to label Thomas as a FLEX value?
The Case FOR
The big question for Demaryius Thomas this season is whether Case Keenum can support him. To answer this, let’s look to Keenum’s two wide receivers last season:
Stefon Diggs – 14 games 64 rec, 849 yds, 8 TDs (finished as WR #16)
Adam Theilen – 16 games, 91 rec, 1,276 yds, 4 TDs (finished as WR #11)
Granted, Keenum wasn’t the starter in Minnesota for all 60 minutes of all 16 games. However, I think it’s safe to say both receivers got their fair share of work.
Let’s take a look at Demaryius Thomas’ finishes, in standard scoring, since the first season in which he started all 16 games in 2012:
2012 – WR #4
2013 – WR #2
2014 – WR #3
2015 – WR #11
2016 – WR #18
2017 – WR #23
As you can see, Thomas’ first three seasons as a full-time starter resulted in top-four finishes. Thomas also spent his four seasons as a top-12 receiver. There’s an argument to be made that Peyton Manning’s best years skewed the numbers, like the 2013 season in which he threw for over 5,400 yards and 55 touchdowns. However, take a look at the 2015 season. That year, Manning completed only 198 passes for 2,249 yards and nine touchdowns. That year, Demaryius Thomas caught 105 catches for 1,304 yards and six touchdowns and finished as the 11th-best wide receiver in fantasy. Thomas got it done without Manning.
Speaking of Demaryius Thomas’ performance since 2012…
- Five straight seasons with 1,000+ yards
- Five straight seasons with 90+ receptions
Thomas has had only two seasons with less than 1,300 yards and two seasons with more than 100 receptions since 2012. Also, notice how I said five straight seasons since 2012. For those who, like me, are too lazy to do the math, that means Thomas has had only one season with less than 1,000 yards and 90 receptions.
The Case AGAINST
Let’s be honest, there really isn’t a dominant argument against Demaryius Thomas smacking us in the face. There are a few things we can nit-pick about Thomas. For example, there is always uncertainty with a quarterback change. As I mentioned earlier, the Broncos could end up drafting another quarterback in this year’s draft, at which point questions about a rookie quarterback enter the mix. On a more paranoid note, the Broncos could also draft a top wide receiver, like Calvin Ridley, who could steal targets from Thomas. However, I would expect the Broncos to put the pick into their offensive line or another area of actual need.
Demaryius Thomas also turned 30 on Christmas Day last season. 30 years old can be a scary age for football players, especially wide receivers or running backs. Some players take it in stride and don’t miss a beat, others have noticeable struggles and are never quite the same. That’s not to say that every player changes at age 30, it’s just something that can be common.
If you want to get super specific, you could look once again at Thomas’ finishes in fantasy since 2012. While all are within the WR2 range, there has been a trend downward since 2013. There could be a number of reasons why, including quarterback play, but I wouldn’t lose focus on how they were all within that WR2 range.
By now you’ve probably realized that this is mostly a PSA reminding everyone that Demaryius Thomas is still a beast. He has been reliable since his first full season as starter in 2012 and has not faltered. In addition, Thomas hasn’t missed a game in those six seasons, stringing together 96 consecutive games as a starter since 2012! Thomas has proven he can get it done with average quarterback play, and Keenum is an above-average quarterback.
His finishes since 2012 only confirm that he has a very high floor and an even higher ceiling. To answer the questions: yes, Thomas is more than capable of being a starter and even more capable of putting your team on his back. No, Thomas is not correctly valued as a FLEX wide receiver. I believe that Thomas in the fifth round is a steal and I, personally, wouldn’t be afraid to jump up to the mid-to-late fourth round for Demaryius Thomas in drafts based on his ceiling.