Dallas Goedert is Ready to Break into the Elite in 2021
There comes a time when the student must overtake the teacher. When the apprentice takes the place of the master. When a baton is passed to another. It is true in life, and it is especially true in sport. There have been instances where the new guy has proudly carried on the tradition set by his predecessor. Steve Young carved a Hall of Fame career with the 49ers after he replaced Joe Montana. The Australian cricket team of the early 2000s was just as dominant with Ricky Ponting as captain as they had been under Steve Waugh. But not all transitions are smooth, or successful. Look at the mess Jean-Paul Valley made of Gotham after he took on the mantle of the bat from a crippled Bruce Wayne in "Batman - Knight Fall".
One player hoping to be more Ponting than Azrael in 2021 is Dallas Goedert. With Zach Ertz likely to have played his final game as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, Goedert is ready to assume the role of the lead tight end on the Eagles offense. Is he ready for the role? How does this affect his fantasy stock heading into the new year?
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A Productive Start to a Career
The Eagles spent a second-round draft pick on Goedert in 2018, despite having the productive Ertz on the roster. In his three NFL seasons, despite playing the second chair to Ertz, Goedert has been able to make some noise from a production standpoint. Goedert has 137 receptions (No.11 among all tight ends since 2018) for 1,465 yards (13th) with 12 receiving scores (13th) in his career. He is the overall TE11 in Half-PPR formats over the last three seasons, despite only playing an average of 64% of the Eagles snaps in this time. Over the same span, Ertz is the TE3.
Goedert has done most of his work alongside Ertz, but he has shown that he can step up whenever his senior partner was missing. In games in which Ertz played, Goedert played an average of 59.9% of the Eagles' snaps. He commanded a 12.1% target share in those games, seeing 4.4 looks per game, into which he made 3.1 receptions for 32.4 yards per game. When Ertz missed out, the Eagles sent Goedert out on over 95% of their offensive plays. He was a focal point of the passing offense, drawing 6.6 targets per game (a 19.3% target share) and posting 4.2 catches for 53 yards. He also averaged 0.4 touchdowns per outing, as opposed to 0.27 when competing for work with Ertz. When playing as the Eagles' main tight end, Goedert averaged 9.8 fantasy points per game in falf-PPR. That would have been enough to be TE6 in 2020.
Same Places, New Faces
We cannot just assume that everything is working in Goedert's favor in the new season. The offense in which both he and Ertz were able to remain fantasy viable is a thing of the past, with Doug Pedersen out in Philadelphia. He has been replaced by former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who has brought in former Chargers OC Shane Steichen to serve in the same role for the Eagles. We don't know what the Sirianni offense will look like, but it is noteworthy that last season the Colts and Chargers were remarkably similar in terms of neutral pass rate. With the game within one score, both teams operated at a 57% pass rate, good for a tie for 18th place in the NFL. So the Eagles might not be filling the air with footballs in the coming season.
The Leader of the Pass-Catchers
Even if they don't throw a ton, Goedert should be able to command plenty of work as a pass-catcher. Goedert has the most pedigree of any Eagles receiver currently on the roster, with comfortably more receptions, yards and touchdowns than any other Eagles player. He has 56 more catches than Greg Ward and 759 more yards than Miles Sanders. He is the only Eagle with double-digit career touchdown receptions. The Eagles will be hoping for a big first-year from wide receiver Devonta Smith, as well as a second-year jump from 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor. But until they show they can hack it at the NFL level, Goedert should be the go-to guy for Jalen Hurts.
It is an assumption of course that Hurts is the starting quarterback—it's a pretty safe one unless the Eagles feel that Joe Flacco or Nick Mullens can help them win more than Hurts. And if they do feel this way, Eagles fans will be demanding resignations at all levels. Hurts does need to improve as a passer, but even in his struggles last season, he showed some chemistry with his tight end. Hurts averaged 6.63 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Goedert last season, his most efficient link-up with any receiver. Hurts does not have to rely on taking deep shots to Goedert either, as Goedert has shown an ability to rack up the yards after the catch. 695 of his 1,465 career yards have come in YAC. That is 47%. Of the 24 tight ends with at least 1,000 receiving yards since 2018, only eight have a higher YAC percentage than Goedert's. Travis Kelce, the undisputed top tight end in the game, has racked up 39% of his yards in this span after the catch. Just get the ball into Goedert's hands, and let the magic happen.
Goedert is currently being taken as the TE7 over at Underdog. This lines up perfectly with our half-PPR ranking of him. The Eagles might want to lean on their ground game in the coming season. But Goedert has shown that he can be an every-down player, which keeps him on the field in all game situations. He has a path towards leading the team in targets and touchdowns, and the volatility of the tight end position makes a player who can claim this extremely valuable. He has the potential, and probably the opportunity, to finish the season as a top-five fantasy player at his position. This is one Eagle who truly can fly in the coming year.
- Goedert has been productive in his NFL career despite playing behind a dominant player at his position.
- Goedert is competing for targets with a young, inexperienced and mostly underwhelming group of receivers.
- Even on a team that might be fairly run-heavy, Goedert will be on the field most of the time which will lead to a healthy amount of playing time and opportunities.
- A top-five fantasy finish at tight end is withing Goedert's range of outcomes.