One day after the Jacksonville Jaguars released Fred Taylor, the New Orleans Saints parted ways with their veteran running back, Deuce McAllister.
A first-round draft pick of the Saints in 2001, McAllister started his NFL career behind Ricky Williams. When the Saints traded Williams to the Miami Dolphins before the start of the 2002 season, McAllister quickly developed into a valuable fantasy option. In fact, he averaged 1,368 rushing yards and scored 30 total touchdowns over the next three seasons.
In 2005, McAllister suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament that forced him to miss the final 11 games. He returned the following season to rush for 1,057 yards and a solid 10 touchdowns, but another ACL ailment cost him 13 games in 2007 .
McAllister returned to the field last season and saw limited work, rushing for 418 yards and five touchdowns on 107 carries. As the season wore on, he fell behind both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas on the Saints’ depth chart.
With McAllister now out of the mix, Thomas will see a nice spike in value in 2009 drafts. He showed flashes of brilliance at the end of the season, rushing for 475 yards with nine total touchdowns from Week 11 to 16. He also scored 113 total fantasy points on NFL.com in those games.
Only DeAngelo Williams and Michael Turner had more fantasy points in that time frame among running backs.
Now the favorite to start for Saints coach Sean Payton, Thomas will be selected ahead of Bush in most standard and PPR leagues. Bush is expected to be back before the start of training camp, but his continual knee problems make him a risk-reward back.
Thomas is now worth a third- or fourth-round selection as a No. 2 fantasy back.
Have a burning question for Michael Fabiano on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section below or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com!