Mar 8, 2011

By Andy Boyum
In July of 2010, after ten years and 1.35 million units, Chrysler Group discontinued production of the PT Cruiser. A mere three months later, the New Orleans Saints were considering ceasing production of their cruiser of a similar name.
From ’07-’09, Pierre Thomas, a.k.a. PT Cruiser, was one of the most impressive backs on a per-play basis with 326 carries for 1669 yards – 5.12 ypc – and 16 touchdowns. The young and vibrant, yet undrafted back was surely in store for a breakout season in 2010 with plenty of, if you’ll excuse the poor pun, tread left on the tires.
Before the season began, Thomas signed a one-year $1.684 million tender offer from the Saints in hopes of working out a long-term deal in the future. In Week 3 vs. Atlanta, Thomas injured his ankle in what would turn out to be one of the most frustrating injury predicaments to plague players, coaches and fantasy owners alike. What was supposed to be a minor tweak turned into a ten-week-long ordeal that even had Sean Payton and the powers that be pondering a possible trade to New England, and to eventually bring in Julius Jones.
With an ADP of 33, fantasy owners had high-hopes for Thomas to propel himself into the upper echelon of fantasy backs. Following a two-and-a-half month layover and fantasy playoffs beginning many owners felt as though they could not in good faith insert Thomas into their lineups. That is, if they were lucky enough to make the playoffs at all. They would be proved correct. “PT-23” finished the season out with 122 yards rushing on 37 carries and a score.
After sitting out Week 17, he completed his contract-year campaign with an abysmal 3.24 ypc and was designated to the IR in the week leading up to their wild-card matchup with the Seahawks. Suddenly, Who-Dat Nation was not the odds on favorite repeat as NFL Champion.
Fast-forward a little over 60 days and it seems Thomas has found his genie-in-a-bottle. Not only can he begin to put his forgettable 2010 season behind him, but he can do so with the knowledge that the Saints still have faith in him.
Despite having “extensive” arthroscopic ankle surgery in which rehab could extend into the summer and threaten his availability for OTA’s and mini-camps, if indeed there are any, Thomas received the long-term deal he had been waiting for. On March 3, reports were confirmed by Sean Payton that the Saints had agreed to a four-year deal with the fifth-year back.
So where does that leave PT Cruiser for 2011? In my opinion, after this move, it seems unlikely that the Saints will retain the services of Reggie Bush. Considering he is owed nearly $12 million in 2011 and couple that with the impressive emergence of Chris Ivory, I have no doubt they will be asking Mr. Bush to give up something that hurts a little worse than a trophy if he wants to stay in New Orleans.
If Thomas can avoid injury this season and also play up to the level of his new deal, I can see him easily taking over the primary ball-carrier duties and attaining career-highs in all categories. Taking into account New Orleans’ offensive scheme, my early take puts PT Cruiser at around 235 carries for 2011.
If he can hit on that ypc average he enjoyed his first three years as a pro that will put him somewhere around 1200 yards. Additionally in that time-frame he averaged a touchdown every twenty carries, which would translate to a dozen TDs. And let’s not forget that he does have skill as a receiver out of the backfield. Being on the field for more snaps will definitely increase that production and make him even more valuable,
especially in PPR leagues.
If these numbers are anywhere near accurate that puts Thomas above 200 fantasy points, which was good enough for a Top 12 RB in 2010 for standard-scoring leagues. That may be a bit lofty for him in 2011, but I don’t think that Top 20 is out of the question. More simply put, monitor PT this offseason, and peg Thomas in early mocks at an early-3rd, late-4th round pick. If he is still sitting there in Round 5, his value is just too good to pass up.

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7 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. CCC
    March 8th, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    always liked the guy
    plus he gets more than the “three yards and a cloud of dust” Bush gives

  2. LestersLegends
    March 8th, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    agree. he was awesome in the Super Bowl. if he can stay healthy, he makes their offense so dynamic.

  3. Andy Boyum
    March 8th, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I thought he was on his way after he walked through my Vikes defensive front in Week 1!

  4. LestersLegends
    March 8th, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    All downhill after cracking the Williams Wall.

  5. Kurt
    March 9th, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    PT will need Bush to get released or get hurt to be a true impact on your fantasy team.. just my two cents. I say this because the Saints, now with Ivory proven, will run a three headed attack. Peyton doesn’t seem to ride hot hands until later in the game so PT could end up being hit or miss from time to time. I hope the best for PT and the Saints. I’m a life long Saints fan and grew up Baton Rouge so ya know I think I know it all about dem Saints. Would love to see them TRADE Bush and draft a RB in the 3,4,5,or 6 round. Why pay someone you know will be hurt at some point during the season? I know he draws the safeties up but damn it he isn’t reliable and has been dropping easy passes that last two years!

  6. LestersLegends
    March 9th, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    I think it’s time for Bush to go. Not sure what you’d get for him though.

  7. Andy Boyum
    March 9th, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    It will be telling what they do with Bush, but I just think given the recent extension that they want to give PT every opportunity to be the workhorse back.

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