8 Tight Ends Primed to Break Out
When it comes to fake football, players are constantly looking for an edge to propel them above their league mates, something different, that perhaps others haven’t thought of yet. The fantasy football landscape is constantly evolving, and with it comes new ways to approach roster construction. While there are a few tiers of solid players who are consistent from year to year, each season brings a new crop of breakout stars who potentially can have a direct effect on whether you are hoisting that league trophy, or stuck with a plunger with the words “I suck at fantasy football” written in sharpie across it.
In this piece, I will take a look at a few statistical categories used to project the breakout potential of tight ends for the 2020 season. According to research done by TJ Hernandez on the most predictable year-to-year stats for the TE position, red zone numbers tend to fluctuate wildly from one year to the next. Studies have shown that only a very limited number of TEs are actually targeted significantly in the red zone, so as a whole, their efficiency numbers are too erratic to include in this article.
The term breakout can have several meanings in the fantasy football universe, much like the real world. Most of the guys mentioned below have had varying success in the NFL thus far and a few have even entered the conversation as a team’s No. 1 tight end. For this article, I’m defining breakout as finishing the 2020 season higher than their average draft position (ADP) would suggest, or metaphorically breaking the tight end tier ceiling.
A Look Back at 2019
Mark Andrews was the breakout star of 2019, coming in with a 13th round price tag and ending the season as TE4 in half-PPR points. He had a soft schedule according to our SOS hot spot tool and his 34.5 yards per game in 2018 (TE16), gave us hope for improvement in his second season as a Raven. Darren Waller is another guy we pegged at the start of last season, mostly based on Jared Cook’s usage from 2018. Cook saw 6.3 targets per game as TE7 and ended the season as TE5 in half-PPR points per tilt with 10.0.
When searching for breakout talent at tight end, these are the year-to-year stats we tend to lean on in identifying potential candidates:
- Targets per game
- Receptions per game
- Yards per game
- Half-PPR points per game
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
The third-year tight end checks all the boxes as a late-round guy who could land in TE1 territory. He finished right outside of starting numbers across the board in 2019, ending as TE13 in targets per game with 5.6, TE12 in yards per game with 35.6, and TE15 in both half-PPR points and receptions per contest.
Heading into this season, he has new OC Chan Gailey calling the shots, a guy who doesn’t necessarily target the tight end position heavily, but does utilize the slot, especially when he has a big-athletic tight end there. In 2016 and 2015 in New York, Quincy Enunwa and Eric Decker finished 12th and fifth in targets from the slot, respectively, while Tony Gonzalez in the slot was second under Gailey in 2008 in Kansas City. With Gesicki most likely Miami’s slot guy in 2020, we could see a big jump for his usage and production.
Right now he’s carrying a TE14 ADP somewhere in the 11th round. He’s a great value for those who passed on the elite tight ends and are looking for a player who can bring them top 10 fantasy numbers.
Dallas Goedert, Eagles
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