Panthers: Is Ian Thomas the NFL’s biggest fantasy sleeper in 2020?

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Ian Thomas
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Ian Thomas /

Tight end is a tough position to draft successfully in fantasy football. But the Carolina Panthers could have a good one in Ian Thomas.

Grabbing an elite tight end in fantasy football like the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce or the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle can give you an edge over teams that choose to go the traditional route of taking running backs and wide receivers early on. The problem is that the top tight ends will cost a very early draft pick due to the lack of consistent pass-catchers at the position.

Kelce has an average draft position (ADP) of 17 overall according to ESPN PPR standard scoring leagues. His current ADP is 23 overall. That means that drafters will have to spend a second-round pick in order to claim one of the All-Pro tight ends.

Kelce and Kittle are by far the best fantasy options at the tight end position going into 2020. However, drafting one of them will certainly leave a team lacking either an elite running back or wide receiver both of which are widely considered the two more important positions in fantasy football. This is because drafters must start more than one player at either position.

Fantasy football players that draft RB-RB, RB-WR, or WR-WR are usually set up in a better position than those that differ from this strategy. Simply because RB, WR, and FLEX positions have more spots to be filled and tend to score more points in starting lineups than the tight end spot in standard fantasy leagues.

Drafting a tight end in the middle rounds seems to once again be the league winning strategy in 2020. Players like Darren Waller, Evan Engram, and Tyler Higbee can be had in the fifth round or later after the core of a team has been solidified.

However, picking up a sleeper backup tight end becomes extremely important when missing out on either Kelce or Kittle. When a team misses out on one of the premier players, it must draft a backup that can step into the starting lineup due to a bad matchup or injury.

Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas is currently going undrafted

Carolina Panthers’ new starting tight end Ian Thomas is currently going undrafted in ESPN fantasy leagues. Fantasy football just like most things in life is set up as a high-risk, high reward system. Thomas falls into the rare category of no risk, high reward because it literally costs nothing to get him on your team this season; as of now.

More from Cat Crave

Thomas is entering his third season in the NFL which is a natural breakout year for many players in the league. His stats the first two seasons are underwhelming, to say the least, but let’s remember that he was playing behind longtime Panther Greg Olsen. This year Thomas is the No. 1 option at tight end for a team that has a starting quarterback that excels in the short-to-intermediate passing game.

The Panthers also have first-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling plays. He used tight ends heavily at his time with LSU. And the coordinator/quarterback tandem makes Thomas an intriguing option to scoop up in fantasy leagues this season.

But let’s not forget that he is a talented player that has standalone value himself. PlayerProfiler is an analytics website that uses workout metrics to compare players in the league. Thomas is compared to former Atlanta Falcons standout Austin Hooper.

Related Story. Carolina Panthers: 3 things Ian Thomas must do better in 2020. light

Both players have similar size at 6-foot-4,  and more than 250-pounds. They also share rare athletism for their stature with great 40-yard dash times and agility scores.

Hooper finished 2019 as the sixth-best tight end in fantasy football with 192 points in standard leagues. If Thomas can even come close to that he would be an absolute steal who is currently going undrafted.

Pairing Thomas with one of the mid-round tight end picks like Waller or Higbee could be a league-winning strategy in 2020.

Must Read. Carolina Panthers: 3 trade targets from the Miami Dolphins. light