Julius Thomas frustrates me. He frustrates me because he won't block. He frustrates me because he misses assignments. He frustrates me because he has so much talent, but at times, almost seems unwilling to fully capitalize on it.
Fans around the league are abuzz regarding the Denver Broncos run game or lack there of, yet everyone is hesitant to point out that Thomas has been an awful blocker all season. I have no such reservations, Thomas is an awful blocker. Dating back to last season, Thomas has graded out at a ridiculous -15.5 when run blocking by ProFootballFocus.com. I want to see more in this area from this talented player.
Thomas is so supremely talented. So much so that it's frustrating to see a guy who cares so much about the receiving game and being a "receiver", care so little about blocking. Shannon Sharpe put it best during a recent interview with Alfred Williams, of Denver's 104.3 the FAN, saying,
"He ain't blocking nobody. This dude can't block the sun out of his eye. He doesn't try to block, he doesn't attempt to block, he doesn't care to block, he's of the mindset to go out and catch passes."
As a fan of the game I miss players like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Shannon Sharpe being the norm from the tight end position. In today's NFL, a tight end is nothing more than a glorified wide receiver with the mindset of only wanting to catch passes, so that they can be classified as a wide receiver, instead of a tight end. Why? For the payday. It frustrates me because there are few receivers who have put up better numbers than Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe, both of whom made huge plays as receivers and as blockers. Alas, my cries are not heard.
In week 4, the Denver Broncos match up against a great defensive team in the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have allowed a meager 185 yards on 14 receptions, without giving up a touchdown to opposing tight ends, for a paltry 18 fantasy points. They have thus far faced Antonio Gates, who torched the Seahawks, and Larry Donnell, who recently torched the Redskins.
While the Cardinals have stood up well thus far against opposing tight ends, they have yet to be tested with a top tier one. Julius Thomas is a matchup nightmare. His blend of size and speed is something the Cardinals have not seen, going back to last season when they faced Vernon Davis (twice) and Jimmy Graham. Graham lit the Cardinals defense up for 134 yards on 9 receptions, with 2 touchdowns.
To his credit, Thomas is having a phenomenal season from a receiving standpoint and when it comes to fantasy, that's all that matters (how about .5 a point every time a TE records a good block?). I was very tempted to include Thomas in my Start/Sit column, but after serious reflection, I could not bring myself to do it. Julius will likely have another big receiving day, which means we will all love him for another huge fantasy return on investment.