Tight ends we should be higher or lower this draft season

ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking”, which means the average fantasy football industry ranking and is generally similar to ADP (which differs from site to site). This will be a series of ongoing positions highlighting big differences between ECR and my own ranks. We continue the series with a look at tight ends.

Players who should go higher/later: Strategist

Tight Ends I like more than consensus

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (ECR=TE6 vs DDD=TE4)

Schultz can’t match the athleticism of other elite tight ends in the league, but his advantageous situation makes him one of the most valuable fantasy players at his position. Schultz finished as the No. 3 tight end in fantasy last season and will now see a big increase in goals with amari cooper and Cedric Wilson faded away, Michael Gallup unlikely to be ready to start the season after knee surgery and with James Washington and Blake Jarwin both seriously injured. Schultz ran routes at a higher percentage than Mark Andrews after Jarwin was dropped from Week 9 last year.

The Cowboys led the NFL in scoring last season, and Schultz suddenly looks like Dak Prescottis the second reading on most games. With a very favorable schedule, Schultz is ready for a huge fantasy season. I put it in front Darren Waller and George Kittleboth of which go round earlier.

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Albert Okwuegbunam, Denver Broncos (ECR=TE16 vs DDD=TE11)

Albert O is a 24 year old with a truly elite training and underlying statistics metrics that will now capture passes from Russell Wilson (the QB would like his new tight end). Okwuegbunam quietly won fourth highest goal by route rate among TEs for the past two seasons, when he was also one of only six to average more than 2.0 meters per course. With Noah Fan traded to Seattle and Wilson replacing a terrible QB situation, Albert O is about to see a lot more targets with much higher quality.

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There’s been buzz about the rookie Greg Dulcichbut he is far from the athlete and realizes UCLA helped produce big numbers of otherwise mediocre tight prospects. In addition, the season-ending loss of Tim Patrick opens up even more opportunities for Okwuegbunam, who will crush while being a big part of Denver’s offense this season.

Is this the season that Albert Okwuegbunam breaks out for fantasy managers?  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Is this the season that Albert Okwuegbunam breaks out for fantasy managers? (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans (ECR=TE24 vs DDD=TE15)

Hooper is two seasons away from recording 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns in just 13 games with the Falcons. His last two years can easily be excused playing in Cleveland, and now he’s joining a Tennessee offense that has the most vacant targets and airyards in the entire NFL. In the meantime, since Ryan Tannehill started from 2019, 24% of his targets went through, including 25 of his 76 TD passes.

With Derrick Henry entering an uncertain phase of his career and the Titans should be around .500, everything is preparing for a very good season from Hooper.

Tight Ends I like less than consensus

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (ECR=TE13 vs DDD=TE19)

Gesicki competes with two newcomer wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle who project to be among the league leaders in terms of target rate. If that’s not worrying enough on an offense where questions linger around the quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa’s durability if nothing else), Gesicki role change under new Miami coaching staff could be even more worrying. Mike McDaniel didn’t like using tight ends in San Francisco like Gesicki was employed last year, and his role as a blocker is about to be increased. Whatever the reason, Gesicki’s goals are about to drop, but oddly enough, he’s still drafted into the top 15 fantasy wingers.

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Hunter Henry, New England Patriots (ECR=TE14 vs DDD=TE18)

Henry is gone Justin Herbert, saw 18 fewer targets despite three more games, but somehow finished in the top 10 fantasy wingers thanks to nine touchdowns last season. In other words, Henry somehow caught 41% of the McJonestouchdown passes despite target share of 14.5%. New England added DeVante Parker during the off-season and Jonnu Smith would look much better in Year 2 in New England. It’s all a recipe for a disappointing season from Henry, who is drafted into the top 15 fantasy tight end.

Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks (ECR=TE17 vs DDD=TE25)

With Geno Smith the big favorite to take over for Russell Wilson in Seattle, Fant is going to struggle to get big stats while competing for targets with DK Metcalf and Tyler Locket. Plus, he’s now playing for a Extremely slow Seahawks offense that essentially played two fewer games last season than the NFL average. Disorganized Mo Alie-Cox even later instead.

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