Pro Football Focus: Saints WR Thomas most valuable non-QB

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Michael Thomas, Saints vs. Jets
(Photo: Parker Waters)

According to Pro Football Focus, the NFL’s most valuable non-quarterback in 2017 was Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas.

PFF calculates a statistic first made popular among baseball’s new numbers – wins above replacement (WAR). It grades each facet of a  player’s game, then, based on the next man up taking his place, how valuable said player is to his team’s performance.

Thomas’ WAR was 2.62 in 2017, barely ahead of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (2.61). Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was No. 1 overall on the list at 8.22.

Thomas was PFF’s fourth-rated wide receiver last season, when he caught a team-record 104 passes for 1,245 yards and five touchdowns. His value increased based on playing primarily in the slot – according to PFF’s research, throwing to the slot is more valuable than passes to receivers lined up wide – and the Saints’ strength of schedule.

The statistical note appeared in the inaugural edition of Peter King’s new NBC column “Football Morning in America.” You can read the column here.

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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