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Fantasy owners are always looking for the next big thing, that one sleeper or breakout candidate who can turn their squad into an unstoppable fantasy force and title contender.
For me, Demaryius Thomas is one of those players in 2012.
The third-year wideout from Georgia Tech showed flashes of brilliance at the end of last season, posting a combined 22 catches for 414 yards and three touchdowns in the final four fantasy weeks. If that was enough to get you excited, Thomas then went out and posted 204 yards and one touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round of the playoffs.
Oh, and he did all of this with Tim Tebow under center.
Yes, that’s the same Tebow who completed a meager 46.5 percent of his pass attempts last year. The Broncos made an enormous upgrade at the position this offseason, however (you might have heard of the dude the team added, some guy named Peyton Manning), so if I wasn’t already excited about Thomas’ potential before, I’m absolutely over the moon about it now.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Thomas this week to talk a little fantasy football, the presence of Manning and his own fantasy value for the upcoming season.
M.F.: You were one of the highest-scoring wide receivers in fantasy football in the final weeks of 2011. What was the fantasy fan response to your success?
D.T.: I heard fans say that “you’re on my fantasy team” and my Twitter was blowing up! I actually had a few people tell me I helped them win their fantasy leagues. I was excited about that, to be able to help people do that.
M.F.: With Manning now at the helm, what changes have you seen in the offense during offseason workouts?
D.T.: You know the biggest thing to change is the pace of the offense. We’ll still run the ball a lot, but we’ll pass the ball more too. At practice, once we are finished with one play we’re right back at it again. So that’s the biggest thing, the pace has changed. I’m super excited about it.
M.F.: Do you have heightened expectations now that Manning is your quarterback?
D.T.: I have high expectations, but I’m not going to project myself to do anything more than pick up where I left off at the end of last season and get better. You know with Peyton, the future Hall of Famer, just watching him with the Colts, he spread the ball out to all of his receivers. I should have plenty of opportunities.
M.F.: Have you been able to develop a rapport on the field with Manning?
D.T.: The rapport between Peyton and I was slow at first, but as we kept going, week to week, it has developed well. I’ve stayed late after practices to get the feel down, to get the timing down. I don’t know how he was with the Colts, but now that he’s with Denver he’s looked really good to me.
M.F.: What has Manning’s presence meant to you as you prepare for the upcoming season?
D.T.: He’s always positive. You might get a text message from Peyton saying something like, “you had a great practice today.” That makes me feel so good, for a quarterback like him to praise me, a young receiver. That helps me build my game even more, to go out every day and do better than I did the day before.
M.F.: Do you feel any added pressure playing in an offense with such a prominent quarterback?
D.T.: I was just nervous to meet him! I told myself, you have to go out there every day like it’s your last and leave it all on the field. I want to be in the right place at the right time, so I can be on the same page as Peyton. I’ve heard from older players that if he trusts you, you’re going to have a great year.
M.F.: Do you have any personal goals for the upcoming season?
D.T.: My personal goal is to stay healthy. I’ve been in the league three years, and this is my first offseason being healthy. If I can stay healthy, I feel like I can have around 1,000 yards and 10-plus touchdowns.
M.F.: You have a unique perspective on Manning. He’s 36 and coming off multiple neck surgeries, so would you be worried about drafting him in a fantasy league based on what you’ve seen?
D.T.: I have no worries at all. None.
M.F.: Put yourself in the shoes of a fantasy owner. Where would you draft Demaryius Thomas?
D.T.: Of course I would have to be the first receiver taken!