If fantasy football championships were played in Week 1, Julius Thomas owners would be celebrating titles two years in a row.
In 2013's opener vs. the Ravens? Two touchdowns. In 2014? Three TDs.
What will 2015 hold?
"Be careful," a laughing Thomas told NFL Network's Steve Cyphers. "I don't know man. In 2015 I might have to make 47 great blocks for my running back, and that would be fine with me. But I'd also be fine with four touchdowns as well."
Thomas' three touchdowns Sunday, all in the first half, ended up being the keys to Denver's victory, as the Broncos were limited to one Montee Ball touchdown in the second half and barely survived an Indianapolis Colts comeback effort 31-24. Thomas finished with seven receptions for 104 yards, leading Denver receivers in those categories.
But more significantly, his three touchdowns tied a Broncos franchise record for a tight end. Shannon Sharpe previously held the record alone, boasting three separate three-touchdown performances in 2003, 1996, and 1993 with the Broncos. Now he shares that record with Thomas.
Thomas is making something of a habit of breaking or tying Shannon Sharpe records. In 2013, he hauled in 12 touchdowns, breaking Sharpe's regular season franchise record of 10 scores.
Thomas' second touchdown was a thing of particularly beauty. On a play-action pass with perfect protection, Peyton Manning hit a slanting Thomas in stride ahead of Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Thomas was able to run for the sideline, sneaking into the end zone untouched ahead of cornerback Darius Butler for the 35-yard score.
"It was a great play call, something that I've got to give [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Adam] Gase a lot of credit for," Thomas said. "It's something that he was excited about. I told him, ‘Yeah, I think that's a good adjustment based on what they were doing last year.' I was able to get a linebacker in man coverage, I came off the ball, was able to hold him outside a little bit, cross his face and speed through the end zone."
His third was a simple double move, faking the safety for a quick five-yard score in man one-on-one coverage, showing he is perpetual mismatch for every opponent.
"Julius is the guy we got to try to find a way to get the ball to him no matter what defense they're playing," said Manning.
With his size, speed, and ability to score touchdowns, it's easy to see why.