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The sugary, creamy vanilla blended with the citrus-y orange makes an Orange Julius nectar straight from the gods. Equally as tasty the last few years and not a mere mortal in Fantasy Football was Orange Julius, i.e. Julius Thomas.

But now that he’s become “Teal Julius,” he’s become far less appetizing in the Fantasy community.

Yet some in the Fantasy community want us to think Orangina is suddenly sweeter than Julius Thomas. Thomas remains and will be a Top 10 TE.

Okay, maybe I am biased. I confess: I own Julius Thomas in my 2-QB keeper auction league. Perhaps you too have a similar keeper decision to make?

I, admittedly, have been struggling whether to keep him. He’s not breaking my budget; he’s only three times the minimum salary. But the budget savings are minimal. TEs are typically close to the minimum salary, and TEs currently ranked above Thomas are costing rival owners in my league less than Julius Thomas is costing me.

Should I keep Julius Thomas? Let’s take a tour together through my labrynthian mind (be careful where you step!) and break this down a bit KTP style:

The Situation

I know….that top tier TE options, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, are free agents this year. So I can go after the top talent. But we all know both come with a hefty price tag, especially Gronk.

I think…that Zack Ertz, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennet, Jason Witten, Eric Ebron and Ladarius Green will all be kept, so most Tier 2 TEs won’t be available. I think three other TE keeper possibilities–Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and Jared Cook will not be kept either. The former two won’t be because of price and because they are owned by the Olsen owner and myself respectively. The Cook owner was in rebuilding mode last year. Thus, he has far better options (a cheap Jonathan Stewart and a slightly below market price Antonio Brown for starters). Point is, most of those Tier 2 TEs won’t be available.

I can prove…that it leaves by default the following options at TE from Jack Delaney’s top dozen tight ends: Antonio Gates, Jordan Cameron and Larry Donnell. I can also prove that a) 20 percent of Donnell’s points came in one game against the Redskins, including three of his six TDs, and b) he faded badly down the stretch.  Gates presents some interesting value, but even if I grab him, I will still need to unfortunately grab another TE during the auction to start Week 1. And while Thomas is an injury risk, I can also debate Jordan Cameron is as well, with his three concussions in three years.

Other Considerations   

I know….that Josh Hill, Tyler Eifert, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro and Maxx Williams are amongst the young tight ends that will be available. On the older side, I also know that Owen Daniels, Dwayne Allen, Heath Miller and Kyle Rudolph will also be options during the auction.

I think…that if I am going to go cheap on TE, I’d rather go young upside than high floor veterans. Given that this is a keeper league, it is a lot easier to flip young talent than older talent, and that’s assuming I decide not to keep a young, cheap tight end I acquire.

I can prove….from the last 10 years of league auction results that TEs almost never break the “non-keeper threshold price”–a player whose original auction price exceeds the average salary in this league cannot be kept. Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates are the only TEs who ever have. Maybe Graham and Gronk exceed that price this year, but no one else will, especially given that half a dozen teams will already have a TE in place.

League Insights I Have

I know…that one of my biggest league rivals likes Jordan Cameron. He actually traded Gronkowski to acquire Cameron (it’s far smarter than it sounds—Gronk was entering his final year of keepability and at three times the price) and only traded Cameron as part of a bigger deal to get Russell Wilson. Bottom line, I’m not getting him. Gates will also be tough, as I already know the Green owner has mentioned he loves the idea of handcuffing Green with Gates. Could this be a smokescreen?  Sure. But Gates is not going cheap either.

I think….that people are overly down on Julius Thomas, including those in my league. If I want to get him back at the same price or lower, I think I can. There is a tremendous buying opportunity here…Check out the decline in ADP over the last six months….

Julius Thomas ADP

 

Do I think Julius Thomas is worth a fourth-round pick? No. Do I think he can return better than seventh round production? Yes.

I can prove…that based on trade inquiries, the salary I have him for is a little high for a TE in this league. But if Thomas scores just three-quarters of the TDs he scored each of the last two years, his price is well worth it.

If you have stayed with me thus far you are probably thinking, “He’s gonna keep Julius Thomas, isn’t he?”

Perhaps, but let’s break it down to pros and cons for Thomas.

PROS:

-The Jags did not sign Thomas to a five year $46M contract so he could be a blocking TE. He will absolutely be a focus of the Jags offense.  Lest we forget, Thomas had 12 TDs each of the last two years.

-Moving from Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles, his TDs will decrease, but how much? Another year experienced, with an improved offensive line, let’s conservatively give Bortles 16 passing TDs this year. (Ryan freakin Fitzpatrick threw 17 last year. 16 is really not a stretch). Six TDs to Julius Thomas seems like a reasonable floor, right? And I’m expecting more like nine TDs, which would have given him the fifth-most TE TDs last year.

-Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas vs. “the two Allens” (Robinson and Hurns). . . .  Something tells me that JT is going to get even more targets than he did last year.

CONS:

-Thomas does not have an injury-free past.

-Targets are not the same as easily catchable passes, and Bortles is no Manning.

-Despite all the improvements, Jacksonville’s offense will not hum like Denver’s did last year.

I left out the biggest con however, in that there is an opportunity cost to keeping Thomas. With Alshon Jeffrey and Jarvis Landry as obvious choices, I can only keep so many players. So if I keep Thomas, I can’t keep someone else. One of those players I’m considering is Sam Bradford, who I have for the league minimum in this 2-QB league. So, here are my options:

Option A: I can avoid the potential risk on Bradford, keep JT, and still earn a small but viable profit.

Option B: Take the small risk on Bradford and use the extra money to get a Gronk or a Graham.

Option C: Use that extra money elsewhere and get myself another potential cheap TE keeper.

Option D: A hybrid of the above: Throw JT back but try and get him in the auction again for even less, thereby saving money with both JT and Bradford, and spend that money on studs elsewhere.

With three out of four options against it, it looks like keeping Julius Thomas will make me blue. Or teal. Whatever. Now, I wonder if my kids finished that Tang…

 

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