Old faces, new places: Julius Thomas

Old faces, new places: Julius Thomas

Player Movement

Old faces, new places: Julius Thomas

(Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports)

Following a pair of forgettable, injury-marred seasons in Jacksonville, the Jaguars traded tight end Julius Thomas to the Miami Dolphins. He has been reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.

During 27 games in the 2013 and ’14 seasons under Gase, Thomas registered 24 touchdown grabs on 108 receptions. There was a notable difference between then and his 2017 Dolphins reality: Ryan Tannehill is not Peyton Manning.

Thomas scored only nine times in his 21 games with the Jaguars. While that scoring rate was respectable, it felt like a letdown for hopeful gamers. Optimism may be on the upswing as he gets a fresh start in South Florida, although it must be tempered by a dash of reality for fake footballers.

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The Dolphins have a wealth of weapons and a competent running game. The 6-5, 256-pound Thomas excels in the red zone, but his looks could be diminished if Jay Ajayi finds his groove. Then we have a target hog in Jarvis Landry. He consumed 131 looks in 2016, which was down from 167 the previous year. Make room for wideout DeVante Parker, who is finally healthy and flashing his sheer talent. We cannot neglect to mention Kenny Stills and his nine scores from a year ago. Second-year receiver Leonte Carroo has rededicated himself this offseason.

As you can tell, it could prove easy to get lost in the shuffle from week to week. Perhaps most imperative, Tannehill (knee) must bounce back from a torn ACL, as well as build rapport with Thomas — the latter didn’t go so smoothly in the beginning of their union. It also gives Thomas the benefit of the doubt in the health category, which is a leap too far to take for anyone siding with history.

Thomas claims this is the best he has felt in years, so we will take him at his word, but he not once played all 16 games in an NFL season. He turns 29 shortly before training camp and may be in a make-or-break season.

Fantasy football takeaway

Finding consistent target volume for Thomas could be a challenge, even for a creative offensive mind like Gase. Miami threw at its tight ends 73 times last year, or 4.6 times per contest. Thomas averaged 5.8 under Gase in Denver — not exactly a huge enough difference. It emphasizes his dependency on scoring touchdowns, though.

There is definite profit margin in Thomas’ fantasy outlook, considering how affordable he is in drafts. On average, he has been selected in the ninth round, as the 16th tight end, in standard-scoring leagues. That figure barely moves in PPR scoring.

Thomas is a fine gamble as a second tight end and could even be a weekly lineup consideration in setups allowing tight ends to be flexed. Given the talent around him, and presumption of a defined role in the red zone, Thomas is a wiser choice in conventional scoring.

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