NFL Fantasy: Is Chris Thompson a must-start?

Can Chris Thompson keep this streak of high yardage games with minimal touches going? How confident are you to start him this week?

Chris Thompson leads the Redskins in receiving and rushing and has the third most NFL fantasy points among running backs through three games. Considering he is a part-time, backup player, it has been a remarkable season so far for the Redskins runner.

With only 27 touches, Thompson has accumulated 350 total yards and four touchdowns. He ran for 77 yards in one game and caught six passes for 150 yards in another. Whenever he touches the ball, fans expect something good happening.

Any player averaging over 100 total yards and a touchdown per game must start, right?

How’s he doing it?

It has truly been a mystical year for the fifth-year running back. His worst game was the opening day loss to Philadelphia. He ran three times for only four yards but caught four passes for 52 more. Better yet, he took one pass in for a touchdown and came away with over 11 NFL fantasy points.

He ran three times in Week 2 again, but this time he gained 77 yards and scored twice. Throw in some receiving yards and he was good for 22.6 fantasy points. In Week 3, he caught six passes for 150 yards and another touchdown on the way to 24.8 fantasy points. He is the overall RB-3 after three games, behind Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley.

He looks as fast as ever and says he feels healthier than he ever has. He has no explanation for why this year is going so well.

Can he keep it going?

Last season was the first time in four years Thompson played in all 16 games. Injuries have been a major drawback to his career prior to that. Washington’s head coach Jay Gruden said he has no plans to increase Thompson’s touches, probably with the injury history in mind. Last year’s 117 touches are the most he has had in a season. He is on pace for 144 touches in 2017.

Eventually, defenses will shadow Thompson better if he keeps this up. But what are we talking about ‘keeping up’? He had a rather pedestrian opening week, saving his fantasy owners with a late touchdown. He had one week where he averaged over 25 yards per carry and one week when he averaged 25 yards per reception. Is there really a trend there?

Thompson is a good runner when healthy. He averaged 5.1 and 6.2 yards per carry in extremely limited action the past two seasons, and 7.0 yards per catch. That is a far cry from his current 8.5 and 17.8. Common sense says he will tail off toward his normal averages sooner than later.

So… is he a must start?

Thompson and the Redskins face the defense of the Kansas City Chiefs this week in the Midwest. They have faced good defenses in the first three weeks, but not one on par with the Chiefs.

For that reason, as well as considering simple odds and trends, Chris Thompson is a worthy starter, but he is definitely not a must-start at this point. If you are one to ride a hot hand, Thompson is the hottest one around. But with only nine touches per game, he has a very low floor. He is unlikely to maintain his current fantasy pace and he will not score a touchdown each week.

I would sit him against the Chiefs.

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.