Has the next elite fantasy tight end arrived?
In the first regular season game of the 2013 NFL season not a lot happened. Other than Peyton Manning throwing seven touchdown passes. Yes. Seven. Two of them went to a player that didn’t start playing football until 2010 and was still a 4th round draft pick in 2011. Julius Thomas finally had his coming out party last night in a game where he had 5 catches for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Thomas actually played 4 years for the Portland State basketball team before also playing football in 2010. In his only collegiate football season he had 29 catches for 453 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was extremely raw as a football player coming out of college but the Broncos saw enough in Julius Thomas that they spent a 4th round pick to draft him. Following in the footsteps of other college basketball players turned NFL tight ends like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, Thomas also uses his “box out” skills to gain separation from defenders and high points passes like he would when going up for a rebound. Both of those skills were on display last night in his first NFL start.
If you happen to already own Julius Thomas like I do in a few dynasty leagues, There is no reason to take him out of your lineup unless you also have a top 5 player at the position (Graham, Gronk, Gonzalez, Witten, Davis). By the end of the season we could be talking about him in the same tier as Graham and Gronk.
If you don’t own him and want him, be prepared to spend most of your free agent acquisition bucks in the first week of waivers to get him. If I needed a tight end I would go as high as 60-70% of my total budget to get him. If you are in a waiver priority system and actually have a shot to get him, you’d be silly to pass even if you already have a top 5 option.
The argument still exists that there won’t always be enough targets for Julius Thomas to have a game like that every week, but now that we know the potential for games like that is there, that’s what matters. Some weeks he very well could post numbers like 3 catches for 21 yards, but that is just the nature of the tight end position. If any tight end is going to emerge from the pack and join the ranks of the elite tier this season, Julius Thomas seems as likely as a choice as anyone else after his week 1 performance.
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