We are entering the period of the NFL offseason where rookie drafts have probably finished. Focus now shifts towards redraft leagues, intending to win this year at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But that does not mean that the savvy dynasty owners should be idle. There is never a bad time to acquire good players to supplement your rosters, even if the player in question is not a guarantee to help you in the coming year.
One such player who should be on a lot of people’s radars is Ian Thomas. The Panthers tight end is going into his second season. While there exist some barriers that may hamper him in 2019, he remains, in the words of Evan Silva, a screaming dynasty buy. Thomas is currently the TE28 on our Dynasty rankings, but I want Thomas on as many of my dynasty rosters as I can get him on, and I’ll tell you why.
Thomas boasted impressive measurables coming into the NFL, scoring well above the average in most of the key workout metrics.
But while he was something to behold as a physical specimen, Thomas did not have an extensive catalog of college production to wow the evaluators with. Thomas played only 11 games for Indiana, gaining 404 yards on 28 total receptions. His 15.0 yards per reception was eye-catching, however, as was the fact that five of his 28 catches went for touchdowns. According to our Box Score Scout, this small sample size was enough to draw comparisons with some notable NFL TEs.
The Panthers took Thomas with the first pick of the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. They were that determined to get their man that they refused trade offers for the pick.
Thomas was dropped into a TE room with one of the best to play over the last ten years, namely Greg Olsen. Olsen has 472 receptions for 5,866 yards and 37 touchdowns since joining the Panthers before the 2011 season. Only Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, and Rob Gronkowski have more catches in this time. Graham and Gronkowski are the only TEs with more yards. These two, plus Antonio Gates and Kyle Rudolph, are the only TEs to have found the end zone more times. So we can almost forgive Thomas for putting up zeroes in his rookie season. Except that he didn’t, and Olsen is partly to thank for this.
Olsen didn’t miss a game for nine seasons from 2008 to 2016. However, in the last two years, he has missed 16 games in total. Seven of these came last season, while he looked a shadow of his former self in the games he did play. When he was on the field, he still capped the opportunities and output of Thomas.
Thomas did his best work in the final weeks of the season. He was productive even with a misfiring Cam Newton at quarterback.
Thomas was the TE6 in PPR scoring between Weeks 13 and 17.
Olsen appears to be healthy heading into the 2019 season. If this is the case, then, likely, Thomas will again find his opportunities capped. But Olsen has repeatedly injured the same foot over the last two seasons, plus he has what seems to be a standing offer to move into any TV booth of his choosing when his career ends.
I don’t think it is a total reach to suggest that maybe Olsen isn’t on the Panthers roster in Week 1 of 2019. I certainly don’t expect him to be there in 2020. The time for Thomas is coming, and all I know is you don’t want to be trying to acquire him when it comes. Get him now.
Image Credit: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Ian Thomas.
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