There’s always at least one.
One guy who quietly produces, but no one seems to care. One guy who gets overlooked on draft day. One guy who is vastly underrated. Running back Pierre Thomas has matched that description throughout his entire career, and this season is no different. Despite not ever posting the most other-worldly numbers or seeing a high volume of work, Thomas has been very strong this season. He currently ranks as the 19th overall rusher in Yahoo! leagues. Thomas is averaging almost 11 fantasy points per game. It’s pretty impressive, if you think about it. Especially when New Orleans is a pass-first team, averaging just 23.9 rushing attempts per contest. Perhaps the fact that the Saints don’t run the ball a lot is why Thomas hardly gets any fantasy recognition.
It needs to stop.
A veteran back who seemingly does everything right for this team, Thomas has opportunity and a good situation to continue playing like a top-20 running back. The Saints are clearly one of the most high-powered offenses in the league, which gives Thomas ample opportunity to find the end zone. They currently are averaging 3.5 red zone attempts per game, which is the ninth-most in football. Thomas is a good short-yardage back, and will benefit if this unit continues to give him looks up close. This offense is also averaging three offensive touchdowns per game, which is fourth-most in the league. Led by Drew Brees and company, this offense will march up and down the field with ease, and Thomas will continue to benefit.
Of course, Thomas could flirt with top-12 territory if the Saints didn’t tend to feature multi-back sets. Darren Sproles is still an elite pass-catching back, and an important part of this offense. However, he is dealing with a concussion, and his immediate status is unclear. But still, Thomas had been outperforming Sproles before the injury. His 39 receptions are fourth among all running backs, and he’s also scored twice through the air. As for the snap count, something near and dear to my heart, Thomas is dominating. While Sproles is seeing 31.9 snaps per game, Thomas is seeing 40.8. On the year, Sproles has only carried the ball 30 times, compared to Thomas’ 79 totes. In a Brees offense, the most trustworthy guys tend to get plenty of looks, and Thomas is one of the most reliable options he has.
If Sproles’ concussion forces him to miss time, Thomas is going to be a running back two weekly option. However, even if Sproles is in the lineup, Thomas is a strong flex play, especially this week. The Cowboys are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing backs, coming in at 23.16 per contest. He’s been especially good in PPR formats, hauling in almost five balls per game. That bodes well for this week’s matchup, as Dallas is allowing an inviting 63 receptions for 510 yards and three touchdowns to opposing backs, which is the most in football. Brees has targeted Thomas 5.5 times per game this season.
So the question remains, why don’t fantasy owners target him more prior to each season?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.