Michael Thomas Dec 29, 2019; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) runs after a reception in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints have appeared to be the team to beat in the NFC, but now they will have to get it done without their superstar wide receiver for a while.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (along with Ian Rapport) reports that Thomas’ “high-ankle injury is worse than originally believed, and he’s now expected to miss several weeks.”

Thomas injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 34-23 Saints victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 27-year-old has 473 receptions in his five-year career, and really took things to another level with an NFL single-season record of 149 receptions in 2019. And he does that while still averaging 11.7 yards per reception in his career. He’s as good as they come at the wide receiver position.

He’s also the top wide receiver in fantasy football by a wide margin, and was a consensus top-10 pick in fantasy drafts this season. So, this injury is very bad news for fantasy owners that just invested a first-round pick in him.

But, in terms of the real football, it’s a huge loss for the Saints and 41-year-old quarterback Drew Brees. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them lean on Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray in the running game a bit more while Thomas is out. And veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will surely see his targets go up.

The Saints are still an awesome team that will be favored in most of — perhaps all of — their upcoming games, but it will be more of a challenge without their stud pass-catcher and chain-mover. They go to Las Vegas for the Raiders’ home opener on Monday Night Football in Week 2, followed by hosting the Green Bay Packers in Week 3, and then facing the Lions in Detroit in Week 4.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.