Emmanuel Sanders fantasy stock clearly on rise with Michael Thomas out

Fantasy, Fantasy Football, New Orleans Saints

With Michael Thomas possibly missing multiple games, it’s time to put some fantasy respect on Emmanuel Sanders’ name.

Those who took Michael Thomas in the first round of their fantasy draft were left disappointed in Week 1, as he had just three catches for 17 yards and suffered an ankle injury. Reports suggest he  has a high ankle sprain, and could miss several weeks. That door of opportunity you hear opening might have Emmanuel Sanders walk through it first.

Sanders made his Saints debut in Week 1, and he most notably had a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Perhaps most significantly, four of his five targets came in the red zone.

In the last seven full seasons, here are Sanders’ finishes as a fantasy wide receiver (standard scoring).

2013: WR33
2014: WR7
2015: WR18
2016: WR23
2017: WR62
2018: WR24
2019: WR32

Sanders was traded to the San Francisco 49ers last year, and it’s worth noting he wound up playing 17 games. Over 10 games with San Francisco, he had 36 catches for 502 yards and three touchdowns (WR35 in standard scoring; WR36 in full PPR).

The Saints’ passing game has very favorable upcoming matchups in Week 2 (Las Vegas Raiders), and Week 4 (Detroit Lions). Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers is somewhere toward the favorable end, and Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers will be tough. Depending on what is done with Thomas, with IR and a minimum three-week absence a possibility to take the idea he’ll push himself to play off the table, Sanders may still push to the lead in what would naturally become a more diversified passing offense without its No. 1 guy.

Sanders was drafted as low-end WR3 or more likely a WR4 in 12-team leagues, but he’s more widely available than you’d think. He’s currently owned (as of Wednesday afternoon) in 79.8 percent of ESPN leagues, and he’s 76 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. So he’s worth checking on to see if he’s available as a waiver wire add, and for those that drafted him he’s got sneaky upside in any games Thomas misses.

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