Tight end is typically an extremely shallow position in fantasy football. Usually, there is a clear ‘Big 3’ or ‘Big 4’, and that’s the case again this year. Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz are all being selected within the top-55 picks in drafts.
After this tier, there’s Darren Waller and then another grouping of TEs consisting of: Tyler Higbee, Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper and Jared Cook. This group’s ADP ranges from pick No. 82 to No. 113. Although there is some solid talent, fantasy football players are better off forgoing the names listed above, stacking up on running backs and wide receivers and selecting a tight end much later in the draft for this reason:
The upside of the late round TEs is worth the wait.
Listen: Rally Towel Fantasy Football podcast Ep. 6 – Dynasty fantasy football TE rankings
The cluster of TEs being selected between the ADP of 120-135 is loaded with tantalizing, value-filled potential that usurps the more well-known commodities being selected in the early and middle rounds. I highly suggest waiting and selecting one of the following tight ends later in your draft.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 120.99)
Entering his third season, Gesicki demonstrated enough in 2019 to believe that he can take his play to another level in 2020. The 6-6, 250 lbs tight end is a remarkable athlete. He underwhelmed in his rookie year, but took a noticeable step forward in his second campaign.
He finished as TE12 in PPR leagues last season, amassing 55.4 points during the last quarter of the fantasy football season (Week 13-16). He also ended last season with the third-highest average targeted air yards total at TE with 10.4. Entering his third season, he’ll be pinned alongside a new offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey. Making a good impression will largely sway Gesicki’s usage, so keeping up to date with the latest information during training camp and offseason training activities will be beneficial in gauging his value.
Regardless, anytime a player of Gesicki’s talent is available in the late rounds, it’s worth the risk.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 121.59)
The Eagles’ tight end situation is really starting to turn into an evenly split timeshare. In Week 11-16 last season, Goedert received 357 snaps to Ertz’s 392. That’s a difference of less than 10 snaps per week.
Goedert, 25, was a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and like Gesicki, is entering his third-season in the league. He accumulated 58 receptions for 607 yards and five touchdowns last year, improving in every single major statistical category.
The one concern with Goedert is Philadelphia’s passing attack will be restocked in 2020, which means an increased competition for targets. His near-full time usage during the latter half of the 2019 season, however, indicates that he has established a role for himself in this offense.
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos (ADP: 123.91)
Fant, a 2019 first-round pick of the Broncos, was the most impressive rookie at the position last year. He led all rookie TEs in receptions (40) and yards (562), while also leading all TEs in yards after catch per reception with 8.5.
Similarly to Goedert, Fant will have more competition for targets. Denver loaded up and added Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Albert Okwuegbunam to its arsenal which already featured Courtland Sutton. The presence of Okwuegbunam, a tight end who has chemistry with quarterback Drew Lock from college, is the biggest threat facing Fant. Fant is the more talented of the two and should remain firmly entrenched as the team’s No. 1 tight end.
Breaking through last season at a position traditionally difficult for rookies, Fant is a great option when waiting on tight end.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 130.08)
No team in the NFL last season threw the ball more than Atlanta. An average of 42.8 times per game, the Falcons were the only team to top 40 attempts per game. The Baltimore Ravens, Hurst’s previous team, threw the ball an average of just 29.4 times a game.
Hurst was also clearly the secondary TE option in Baltimore, trailing Andrews on the depth chart. With Hooper and his 97 targets departed to Cleveland, Hurst will be the de facto top TE in Atlanta. Behind only Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in the passing attack pecking order, Hurst should emerge as a primary option in this passing game.
A first-round pick in 2018, Hurst will join Gesicki and Goedert in this group of third-year pros looking to breakthrough.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (ADP: 134.65)
The best tight end prospect to enter the NFL in the past five seasons, Hockenson experienced a turbulent rookie campaign. Dealing with a plethora of injuries and poor quarterback play, few things could’ve gone worse for the eighth-overall pick in 2019.
2020 marks a new beginning, however. Now in his second year of the offense, injury-free and reunited with starting QB Matthew Stafford, Hockenson has all of the ingredients for a sophomore bounce back.
Detroit’s passing offense is not particularly deep, and Hockenson should be able to become, at the minimum, the third option in this attack. He’s been my go-to TE when waiting it out at the position. The ceiling is extremely high.
Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 163.58)
If you really want to wait at tight end, or are looking to draft two tight ends, Thomas is the way to go.
The Panthers signed former Louisiana State University passing game coordinator Joe Brady to be its offensive coordinator. In case you didn’t know, LSU’s passing offense was historic in 2019.
In a division with offensive juggernauts like the Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints, Carolina’s going to be throwing the ball… a lot. Without the presence of a true big-bodied wide receiver, Thomas will be depended upon to play that role as well, which could help lead to more red zone targets.
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