Demaryius Thomas Fantasy Outlook Still Cloudy With N'Keal Harry Placed on Injured Reserve

Dan Israeli
New York Giants v New England Patriots
New York Giants v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Early in the summer, it was uncertain if Demaryius Thomas had any chance of making the New England Patriots' final roster, as the vet was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and coming off his least productive season in years.

Despite blowing up in Pats' final preseason game, dropping a 7-82-2 line against backups, New England did in fact release Thomas on August 31 when finalizing their 53-man roster. And just as quickly as they cut him loose, the Pats ultimately chose to re-sign Thomas to a one-year deal two days later. The roster spot was freed up when rookie N'Keal Harry was placed on the injured reserve with an ankle injury.

With Thomas back in tow, the Patriots now have a wide receiver depth chart that includes long-time slot man Julian Edelman, an enigmatic deep threat in Josh Gordon, Thomas, veteran Philip Dorsett and undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers. As Edelman plays almost entirely out of the slot, it's likely Thomas is competing with Dorsett for snaps on the outside across from Gordon, with the rookie Meyers serving as depth to begin the year.

While Thomas can certainly find himself starting in Week 1 against the Steelers, it's difficult to forecast a heavy role for the veteran in the Patriots' run-heavy offense. Edelman is a strong bet to lead the team in targets, with Gordon also figuring to play a very prominent role as the team's primary deep threat. Then there is receiving back James White, and even if he sees fewer than the 123 targets he recorded last season, White is still a good bet to be heavily involved in the offense due to his familiarity with Brady.

The Patriots will also likely look to feed Sony Michel the ball regularly after finishing 2018 as the seventh most run-heavy team in the NFL, meaning there may not be a ton of volume to spread around to all of those receiving weapons anyway. The only real path for Thomas to return big value as a fantasy asset on low volume is through potent efficiency and TD scoring.

When you consider that Thomas is now coming off the second torn Achilles' of his career, he may not even get a full complement of snaps on the outside, and head coach Bill Belichick could use Thomas in a rotation with Dorsett and Meyers. This would also limit Thomas' upside if Gordon ends up suspended again, and the crowding could get even worse when Harry returns from the IR.

All of this is not to say that Thomas can't have a career resurgence in New England. Give his injury history, however, and the Patriots' run-heavy approach, the odds of Thomas having value as even a WR4 in fantasy football this season appear to be very low.

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