2012 Fantasy PPR Sleepers: New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas

There are many components that make up a successful fantasy football team. Obviously, it always helps having elite players at the top end of your roster but regardless of how many talented front-line players you have, fantasy football is much like real football and in order to win championships great depth will always be a key.

When talking about building up the depth on the backend of your roster, you might ask what kind of players should you be looking for? The answer is players like New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas, who always seems to be under appreciated by fantasy football owners, despite his consistent ability to put up solid fantasy numbers in a part-time role in the Saints backfield.

Take last season for instance. Few would have thought that Thomas was a starting caliber fantasy back last season but that is exactly what he was,  as he gained 987 total yards and scored six touchdowns, on his way to a grand total of 182.7 fantasy points per game ranking him 21st among running backs in point per reception formats.

A big key to Thomas’ success as a fantasy back has always been his ability to catch the football and he did not disappoint in that category last season as he notched 50 receptions for 425 yards, proving that even with Darren Sproles in the fold, there was still plenty of room for Thomas to stay involved in the passing game.

The truth is that Thomas is the perfect complement to the other runners in the Saints overly crowded backfield. First there is 2011 first-round draft pick Mark Ingram, who struggled during his rookie season and will look for a bounce back year in 2012. Yet, Ingram is not much of a receiver and therefore as more of a pure power runner.

Ingram is likely to get more carries this season, which could have a slight impact on Thomas but not much of one. Last season, Thomas only carried the ball 110 times or 6.8 times per game, which shows that he does not need a big workload to be a productive player.

Then there is the explosive Sproles, who one would think would hurt Thomas in the passing game but again even though Sproles was targeted 111 times last season, Thomas still saw 59 targets, meaning he posted an almost unheard of 84 percent catch rate last season.

The truly incredible thing about Thomas in 2011 was the he only touched the football 160 times during the 2011 season, yet still managed to produce over 182 fantasy points, meaning every single time he touched the ball last season, he produced at least one fantasy point. He also reached paydirt a respectable six times in 2011, proving he can do more than simply catch the football.

However, the truly amazing thing about Thomas and his fantasy value is that for some reason he is always under appreciated and overlooked. Yes, the Saints do have some other very solid options in the backfield but they all bring something different to the table including Thomas, who is a more complete running back than both Sproles and Ingram.

It is true that Thomas will not get a ton of touches in the 2012 season but as he proved in 2011, he doesn’t need many touches be a productive and worthwhile commodity. Furthermore, he is one of the best value’s in the draft as he is currently the 53rd running back being selected with an average draft position in the middle of the 11th round according to the fantasyfootballcalculator.com in point per reception formats.

Thomas may not be a superstar and he may not be in your lineup every single week but I can promise you this, there are very few running backs that can be found in the 11th round that have proven to be reliable as Thomas has been for fantasy owners over the past few seasons. He is the perfect RB4 because he can absolutely contribute as a flex option anytime you need him and when the time comes to have him in your starting lineup, chances are he will come through even with limited touches.

One thing is for sure, regardless of his draft positon and overall fantasy value, there are few players in the NFL that do more with less than Thomas, which is precisely why he is a worthwhile investment on any PPR Fantasy Football team.

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