Greg Dulcich: A Late-Round Gem in Best Ball Formats

May 16, 2022
Greg Dulcich: A Late-Round Gem in Best Ball Formats

Greg Dulcich was the third TE off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, selected 80th overall in the third round by the Denver Broncos. The former Bruin joins a Denver team that just pulled off a blockbuster trade with Seattle, sending TE Noah Fant, QB Drew Lock, DE Shelby Harris, and draft picks to the Seahawks for QB Russell Wilson.

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Currently, Albert Okwuegbunam is the projected starter for the Broncos due to experience and blocking ability, but Dulcich has the vertical chops to become fantasy relevant. Whether it can happen during his rookie season is still to be determined, but let’s assess his chances.

Greg Dulcich as a College Prospect

Dulcich was a later riser in the NFL Draft process, but his college resume was indeed impressive. He posted a combined line of 69-1238-10 in 18 games in his junior and senior seasons and was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2021. During his two final collegiate campaigns, Dulcich boasted a 31% yardage and 26% target share at UCLA and was used and considered a legitimate downfield threat with YAC prowess.

He profiles in the big-slot-guy category like Mike Gesicki, so although he’s not the best blocker, Dulcich has the hands to be dangerous with the football. His NFL potential along with the Day 2 draft capital spent to acquire the TE, make Dulcich someone to watch in 2022.

Dulcich Should Be More Than Great Hair for the Broncos

I couldn’t write an entire article on the rookie TE without at least mentioning his luscious hair. Even Denver Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett was impressed by Dulcich’s flowing locks when first meeting the rookie in person.

While Hackett may be enamored and even a little jealous of Dulcich’s hair follicles, he has been vocal with his praise for the TE as a player, which is also indicated by his and GM George Paton’s decision to draft Dulcich on Day 2, a spot where non-QB starter picks are usually selected. When asked about the TE position in general, Hackett responded, “From a tight end standpoint, those guys are always the most unique, dynamic guys out on the field because they can do so many different things.”

On Dulcich, “When you have a guy [like Dulcich] that can stretch the field like he can, it’s really exciting. From all of the stuff — it’s not just the intermediate stuff — but the [impact he makes] truly down the field. At the same time, the ability to strain and block in the run game. I think he showed a lot of stuff [in the pre-draft process].”

Albert O is the presumed starter at TE; however, we should also remember that he’s a holdover from former GM John Elway’s draft, so it may not be so automatic. The third-year player does have the edge in experience over Dulcich, which is more prevalent at the TE position but is oft-injured, playing just 18 contests over the last two seasons.

It’s tough to tell what the Broncos truly have planned for Dulcich in his first professional season, but we can’t rule out some fantasy relevancy. Russell Wilson has supported multiple fantasy TEs in his career, most recently in 2019, with Will Dissly putting up TE9 numbers in half-PPR formats with 10.4 per contest and Jacob Hollister’s 7.3 checking in as TE13.

Denver is certainly not devoid of offensive weapons, but with only Albert O standing in the way in the TE room, we could see enough boom weeks from Dulcich to make him a late-round flier in best ball formats.

What Does This Mean for Redraft Leagues?

Rookie tight ends are not a segment of the NFL to target for fantasy football purposes. This sentiment gets thrown around from year to year, so I decided to actually look at the numbers to get a better idea as to why we should avoid the newbies.

Looking at the history of output for first-year tight ends since 2015, we see grim results.

Rookie TE Output from 2015-2021
Rookie Year Player Yards TDs .5 PPR/G Positional Rank
2021 Kyle Pitts 1,026 1 TE11
2021 Pat Freiermuth 497 7 TE16
2021 Brevin Jordan 178 3 TE25
2021 Tommy Tremble 180 1 TE56
2020 Cole Kmet 243 2 TE53
2020 Adam Trautman 171 1 TE65
2020 Albert Okwuegbunam 121 1 TE26
2020 Devin Asiasi 39 1 TE77
2019 T.J. Hockenson 367 2 TE30
2019 Noah Fant 562 3 TE25
2019 Irv Smith Jr. 311 2 TE41
2018 Mark Andrews 552 3 TE22
2018 Dallas Goedert 334 4 TE27
2018 Jordan Akins 225 0 TE70
2018 Mike Gesicki 202 0 TE72
2018 Hayden Hurst 163 1 TE57
2017 O.J. Howard 432 6 TE18
2017 David Njoku 386 4 TE26
2017 Gerald Everett 244 2 TE50
2017 Adam Shaheen 127 3 TE48
2017 Evan Engram 722 6 TE4
2017 Jonnu Smith 157 2 TE54
2016 Hunter Henry 478 8 TE18
2016 Austin Hooper 271 3 TE40
2015 Clive Walford 329 3 TE39
2015 Maxx Williams 268 1 TE42
2015 Tyler Kroft 129 1 TE74

Only two rookies, Evan Engram and Kyle Pitts have produced starting tight end numbers in their initial season since 2015. There were only three first-year guys who even cracked the Top 20 in half-PPR fantasy points per game, as Pat Freiermutch was TE16 last year and both O.J. Howard and Hunter Henry came in as TE18 in their respective rookie campaigns.

Bottom Line

  • Greg Dulcich landed in a pretty decent spot in Denver, with just one oft-injured TE in front of him.
  • The rookie has the vertical prowess and hands to make fantasy-relevant plays but isn’t draftable in redraft formats, as newbies rarely score impactful points in their first year as a professional.
  • Dulcich’s current Underdog ADP is in the late-18th round as the 35th TE off draft boards. He makes for an interesting final-round stab as a contrarian cheap stack with Russell Wilson. Albert Okwuegbunam is currently a 12th rounder as TE15.
  • If you’re looking for information on where to draft Greg Dulcich in dynasty formats, check out the rankings and ADP at Dynasty League Football.
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