Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Michael Thomas (3) is unable to catch a pass against Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Nick Watkins (21) during the second half of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Honorable Mention: Michael Thomas vs. Brandon Coleman
The departure of Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston have left voids in the Saints offense, especially when it comes to the red zone.
Voids equal opportunity in the fantasy realm, as proved by Ben Watson and his resurgent year in 2015. The current void is that of the red zone threat at receiver, a Colston type who can use his big body in tight spaces to make contested catches.
There are two candidates who could fill this role in the Saints offense in 2016: 2nd round pick out of Ohio State Michael Thomas, or the third year physical phenom Brandon Coleman.
Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 26-19. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
I put this one as an honorable mention just outside of my Top 5 just because it’s a toss-up and whoever drafts the right player will wind up with a great contributor down the stretch, while whoever guesses wrong will be left with a desperation flex option.
Personally, I recommend going with Brandon Coleman. I asked John DeShazier, beat writer for the neworleanssaints.com (the Saints official team website) in a Twitter mailbag if he thought Thomas would beat out Coleman for a starting receiver role.
His response was, “No, but that doesn’t mean Thomas won’t play a lot or contribute significantly as a rookie.” (Full response here.) That’s a bit of a mixed response, but here’s my analysis.
Come draft day, Michael Thomas is going to be a flashy pick, because of his NFL pedigree, (his uncle is Keyshawn Johnson) and the buzz about him being NFL ready, plus his OTA peformance.
However, Coleman is entering his third year in the Payton/Brees offense, and he really started coming into his own at the end of last year.
You will be able to draft him later than Thomas which means great value, the key to fantasy championships.
Outside of fantasy football, having both of these young receivers should bode well for the Saints. They will be competing and pushing each other, which will ultimately make both of them better as a result.
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