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Fantasy Football: Pierre Thomas a Great Value Pick in 2014

Pierre Thomas New Orleans Saints

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In 2013, the New Orleans Saints’ RBs combined for almost 1,400 yards rushing and 1,200 yards receiving along with 11 total TDs. Unfortunately, these stats were split between four RBs. It’s as if head coach Sean Payton took kindergarten too seriously and lives by the principle of “sharing is caring.” Despite Payton’s tendency to split the workload between multiple backs, I’m targeting Pierre Thomas in all of my leagues this year. Here’s why.

Last year, Thomas rushed for over 500 yards and two TDs and caught 77 balls for another 500 yards and three TDs. He finished the season as the No. 23 RB in standard scoring and the No. 17 RB in PPR formats, but Thomas could do even better in 2014.

In 2013, Drew Brees threw the ball 650 times. Of those 650 pass attempts, about 28 percent of those targeted his RBs. The two RBs who saw the bulk of Brees’ targets were Thomas and Darren Sproles. Thomas received about 13 percent of Brees’ throws with 84 targets while Sproles received about 14 percent with 89 targets.

In case you missed it, the Saints traded Sproles this offseason to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth-round draft pick. Last year, Sproles accounted for over 200 rushing yards, two rushing TDs and 71 receptions for over 600 yards and two receiving TDs. That’s a big vacuum for someone to fill in 2014. There are 104 points in standard scoring and 175 points in PPR formats up for grabs in New Orleans this year.

Of course, Thomas won’t be the sole beneficiary of all those extra carries and receptions. On the ground, it’s likely that RBs Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson will see more rushing attempts this year. In the air, WRs Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks may get some extra passes thrown to them with Sproles gone.

However, Thomas will still see a chunk of those rushing attempts and targets in the passing game. Let’s play a game. Assume that Thomas, Ingram and Robinson split Sproles’ rushing attempts and that Thomas’ yards per carry remains the same as in 2013. Let’s also assume that Thomas, Stills and Cooks split Sproles’ receptions and that Thomas’ yards per catch remains the same as well.

It’s not beyond reason that Thomas could end the 2014 season with about 600 rushing yards and three rushing TDs along with 100 receptions for about 700 receiving yards and four receiving TDs. Those stats would equate to 172 points in standard leagues and 272 points in PPR, which would’ve made Thomas the No. 13 RB in standard last year and the No. 5 RB in PPR.

Thomas is a big part of the offense in New Orleans. While he’ll be 30 years old in December, this could be the best season of his career with Sproles now in Philadelphia. Thomas being the main receiving back for the Saints is a big opportunity for him as well as for savvy fantasy football owners. Don’t miss out on an RB2 with RB1 potential with a current ADP in round six or later.

Meng Song is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ms0ng, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your Google+ network.