We are amid a resurgence at the tight end position.
Yes, the position is still top-heavy thanks to perennial studs Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz. However, savvy fantasy owners are starting to identify value and potential earlier in the process and later in rounds. Those of you who took a chance on Mark Andrews or Darren Waller last season, as an example, were richly rewarded.
If you find yourself succumbing to the pressure of joining yet another startup draft this spring, you’re likely targeting a few players in your mind already. When it comes to the tight end position, balancing production with value can be the difference between fielding a competitive team and losing out on that weekly edge.
Join me as we dive deeper into the projections and analysis to identify why, compared to his ADP peers, one tight end stands above the rest and is a perfect mid-round dynasty startup pick.
Tier-based drafting is becoming more common amongst fantasy owners. While a top 200 ranking list is convenient, it often skews the perception of players who seem far apart on paper but are much closer in reality. Identifying players within a larger group can help you extract value at each round.
Noah Fant and Dallas Goedert are two tight ends who have nearly identical ADPs (TEs 11 and 12 respectively), and both have the necessary athletic and production profiles to make a case for being drafted before the other in dynasty start-ups.
From a physical perspective, Fant did the majority of his testing at the 2019 NFL combine, whereas Goedert, back in 2018, did not. Both have the prototypical size needed for the position, but Fant is more of a physical specimen.
Fant’s raw testing numbers put him in an elite category. Using the RotoViz Freak Score Calculator, check out where Fant (labeled as “Hypothetical”) ranks with his score of 88. That’s an impressive group to be a part of.1
In addition to their different athletic profiles, Fant has a clear path to being the No. 1 TE on his team. In contrast, Goedert had a perfect storm of injuries and opportunities that allowed him to finish as a back-end TE1 in 2019. The Eagles still have Ertz and are looking to retool their wide receiving room this offseason as well.
Dynasty Edge – Fant
The second aspect of drafting tight ends, or any position, is determining who you would be giving up to draft a given player. It’s just as important who you don’t select in each round as it is who you do draft. Another tight end to consider, along with Fant, is Jared Cook, who is currently slotted as the TE10.
While Fant is being drafted around guys like Tyler Boyd and T.Y. Hilton, both of whom I would rank after Fant, Cook is being selected around guys like Deebo Samuel and D.J. Chark, both of whom I would prefer to take over Cook.
Above you see Fant’s tier. Now take a look at Cook’s tier.
This simple exercise in ADP analysis gives you an insight into who you may have to forgo drafting to roster the players you want, especially in a dynasty startup. Value-wise, I would instead take Fant over the others in his range, whereas I would instead take the wide receivers over Cook in his ADP range. Cook’s age (32) is also worth noting from a startup draft perspective.
Another aspect of Cook to consider is his reliance on Drew Brees. While Brees has announced he is returning for the 2020 season, his retirement is fast approaching. Fant is tied to a second-year quarterback who has been named the starter moving forward and showed flashes of exceptional play this past season.
Dynasty Edge – Fant
Getting on the field and seeing opportunities are vital aspects for any player to be fantasy relevant, but they are especially true for young tight ends. Fant had a remarkable rookie campaign. He posted the fourth-most receiving yards for a rookie tight end since 2010.
As we’ve compared Fant (TE11) to the TE10 and TE12, it’s only fair to compare him to Mike Gesicki, who comes in as the TE13. Fant and Gesicki had similar seasons from a production standpoint, and Fant only trailed slightly in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Gesicki is also all of the physical athlete and then some that Fant is.
Some owners may prefer Gesicki, his athleticism, and his strong finish to the season. However, the spike in his production coincided with Preston Williams going down to injury. Take a look at Gesicki’s stats both before and after William’s injury.
Fant has a more predictable role with consistency at the quarterback position. In contrast, Gesicki, while he closed the year strong, will have Williams returning and a potential transition at the quarterback position at some point. While Fant has the higher ADP currently, I believe he may be cheaper to acquire if you are already in an established league. Gesicki’s strong run to close the season will likely boost his price.
Dynasty Edge – Fant
As stated, there’s value to be had in every round of a startup draft. Identifying and targeting the appropriate tight end is becoming more critical than ever. Fant is the perfect middle-round tight end pick in dynasty startup drafts.
If you enjoyed this piece, make sure to check out other TE-centric articles from Neil Dutton. He explored one incredible comp for Dawson Knox and also looked into whether or not Irv Smith is the next Ian Thomas.
- Though it’s worth wondering whether TEs should be measured against a different standard, as the profile of a productive, TD-scoring TE is slightly different. (back)