Can Julius Thomas Return to TE1 Form?

Jun 29, 2016

Julius Thomas
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News out of the Jacksonville Jaguars camp is that tight end Julius Thomas has been “nearly unstoppable” during OTAs. It wasn’t long ago that Thomas was one of the premier tight ends in the league with 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He followed it up with just 489 yards, but another dozen touchdown catches. He cashed in with Jacksonville but injuries limited him to 12 games with 455 yards and five touchdowns. If he’s healthy he can certainly exceed those numbers, but can he reach TE1 form?
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Durability has been a concern for Thomas. He has played in 44 or 64 games in his four seasons. Red zone prowess has not been an issue though as he has 29 touchdowns in his past 39 games. That puts him on an average of 11.9 in a full 16 game season.
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Outside of durability, a secondary concern is his fantasy value reliance on the touchdown. He has averaged just 37.8 yards per game over the past two seasons and just 44.4 in his past three years.
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He was literally all or nothing last year. In the seven games in which he did not score Thomas averaged 23.4 yards per game with just one game with over 25 yards. He did have one game with 79 yards to give him six solid games. In the five games in which he did find paydirt, he averaged 58.2 yards and had three games over 50 yards. In those seven scoreless games he averaged 2.6 receptions. In the other five games he averaged 5.6 receptions. Not only did he lack good yardage totals, he wasn’t PPR friendly.
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I currently have Thomas ranked outside of the top 12, based on injury history and his dependence on scoring touchdowns. He’s a really good TE2 option though, particularly if you wait on filling the position. The tight end landscape is deep enough that you can afford to pair a couple of solid options.
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What are your thoughts on Julius Thomas?

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