Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is certainly a player on the rise in fantasy football circles right now, with the team upgrading their quarterback situation with the signing of Peyton Manning. His own strong finish to the season, averaging just over 106 yards per game over his final seven games (including playoffs) has added to the hype and made Thomas a highly regarded receiver at this point. Manning has heaped his own accolades on him as well, saying he has never worked with a receiver like Thomas.
Thomas’ physical tools are clear, with the size (6’3″, 235 lbs.) and skills to be a No. 1 wide receiver, and having a capable quarterback will certainly help his production increase as the Broncos transition from the run-heavy offense they had with Tim Tebow at the helm. His role as the Manning’s top wide receiver, a role filled by Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne to a very productive level in the past, further adds to his potential and has fantasy football owners excited at the possibilities.
But along with Manning’s health concerns coming off missing the entire 2011 after undergoing multiple neck surgeries, Thomas has had his own injury issues during his first two NFL seasons. He missed the first part of the 2011 season after tearing his Achilles in February, and also suffered a broken left pinkie finger during practice early in the season as he was working his way back, though he played through that injury. Thomas was also hampered by multiple ailments (head, ankle, foot, thumb, arm) during his 2010 rookie season, leading to him playing just 21 total regular season games in two seasons.
Thomas’ upside potential alone may lead to him being drafted as a low-end WR1 in many fantasy leagues, but I feel like the downside is too much with his own issues staying on the field up to this point and Manning’s uncertain health until we see him take a hit in game action. Among Broncos’ wide receivers, Eric Decker looks like the better value on draft day even without the high upside.