Dynasty Hot Routes: Tight End Dreams


The mission of this article is to make our in-house experts sizzle and bristle over the hot-button issues that face dynasty owners. Our experts make the entire route tree HOT as they address topics from the world of IDP, Devy, Start/sit, Non-PPR, PPR and everything in between. Try not to get burned by all the fiery YAC below! This is Dynasty Hot Routes!

If this 2017 TE class is as good as advertised how will it affect the next three classes of TE prospects? Will it create a copycat scenario or will too many teams not have a need?

Emmett Kiernan – I have yet to study the upcoming tight end classes, but I do not see a copycat scenario happening. Three tight ends went in the first round and five in the top 45 in the 2017 NFL Draft. The last time more than two players from the position went in the top 45 was 2004. Njoku, Engram, and Howard would all be considered the best prospect at the position more years than not. If we have learned anything about TEs, it is that they are tough to scout. Plenty of elite college players, freak athletes and media/coaches darlings go into their careers with lots of excitement and fail to do anything substantial in the league. Most of the league’s top tight ends did not enter the NFL with any apparent qualities that would have made us realize how much better they would be than those who have failed in past years. I do feel, however, that there are so many players with potential, in quality situations, that in a couple of seasons many of the best tight ends in the game will have come from this class. Some sleepers to note are Jonnu Smith in Tennessee, Jordan Leggett on the Jets, Michael Roberts in Detroit, Gerald Everett on the Rams, George Kittle in San Francisco and Bucky Hodges in Minnesota.

Joshua JohnsonIn a perfect world, the 2017 TE class would produce at least eight places in Canton. However, that is highly unlikely. We all probably have some lofty expectations for a few of them. The reality is that most will be average to below average fantasy contributors for the first couple of seasons. Yes, more and more college formations are finding their way into NFL playbooks. However, in the NFL TEs must block and know how to do so properly. There are some early success stories, but they are not the norm. The TEs of near future may not enter the league with as much anticipation but will face the same challenges. I don’t think NFL teams will copycat or overreact by taking four or five TEs in the first round like they did after the 2014 WR class. I think what we see at the TE position currently is a reflection of systematic sophistication. What also comes into play is Scheme adaptability. Unfortunately, whoever will have early success is not easily visible.

Eric Iannaccone – If this 2017 tight end class is a hit, I could see NFL front offices devaluing the tight end position over the next few years. If a lot of these players are success stories – OJ Howard, David Njoku, Evan Engram, Jake Butt, George Kittle, Adam Shaheen, Gerald Everett, and the like – it may create an idea that tight ends are easy to find and therefore easily replaceable. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. A similar devaluation happened to the running back position. Teams only need one main player at the position, and if they could easily find one to fill the role in the draft, why pay a premium? So, teams will copy the “get your tight end through the draft” idea and will feel comfortable doing so because most of them don’t have a pressing need at the position. Another effect could be how much front offices are willing to spend on the tight end position in the free agency.

Brad McDaniel – I don’t think the 2017 TE class will have any affect, positively or negatively, on the TE classes to follow. For one, I think most NFL teams look at each draft class independently. And two, we all know that it usually takes tight ends more than a year to become productive. That said, the teams who drafted TEs this year still won’t know exactly what they have by the time the 2018 NFL Draft rolls around.

Brian Hawkes – If we look at the tight end position in fantasy football, we see that it is desperately due for a makeover. The players at the top of the ranks are mostly old or frequently injured: Gronk (injured), Reed (injured), Eifert (injured), Olsen (old), Gates (old), Witten (old), Walker (old). Understanding this landscape, and combining it with a historically talented tight end class – we have all the makings for an overhaul. I expect the 2017 tight end class to change the rankings for fantasy football in the coming years.  I do not expect it to have much impact on NFL team draft habits. The 2017 class was littered with tight ends with rare traits and impressive stats on their resume. I don’t expect us to see another class like this for some time, and as a result – I don’t think we’ll see a change in NFL team’s draft approach.

In the wake of Dennis Pitta’s retirement the Baltimore TE depth chart is an uninviting mysterious but somebody has to emerge to be fantasy relevant right?

Emmett Kiernan – Crockett Gilmore is the name that stands out on that depth chart for me. He offers the highest ceiling when it comes to dynasty value.

Joshua JohnsonNow Darren Waller is suspended for a full season! Wowza, this Raven TE position, is cursed. Ben Watson had one fantastic year, but that was with Drew Brees. Putting faith in 36-year TE not named Witten or Gonzalez seems pretty ludicrous. He could be decent red zone guy but don’t expect more than 50 targets. Maxx Williams is the epitome of the word “Potential.” He is still young, however, and he could grow into the player the Ravens had hoped he would become when the drafted him 55th overall in 2015. His health has been his biggest hurdle and who knows what regular reps could bring. Crockett Gillmore is a sensational blocker. He also has just enough experience to be dangerous. He made 10 starts in 2015 and had 33 receptions and four touchdowns. Nick Boyle has been suspended for 14 of possible 32 games so far in his career. The former small school product seems like a longshot to me. Ryan Malleck was signed in June after the Pitta situation came into focus. Malleck’s biggest claim to fame is that he was cut by the Giants for failing to disclose his proper physical condition. In the end, we must pontificate about who will claim Pitta’s team leading 121 targets. My money is on Breshad Perriman.

Eric Iannaccone – For some reason, I can’t let go of Crockett Gillmore. Maybe it’s because I still, on occasion, daydream about this play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy1tyFqvUUA

I don’t have much more than that to back up my feelings on him, other than that when he’s had the opportunity to play, I’ve liked what he’s done. Your eyes can fool you sometimes – mine sure have – but he looks like he has the talent to be a starter. Any easy rebuttal to this would be, “well then why hasn’t he earned the starting job yet?” And to that, I don’t have a good answer. So maybe it will be the veteran Ben Watson, who did look good there with the Saints for a minute. But even if Watson win the job this season, I still like Gillmore to eventually find a role.

Brad McDaniel – Two words. Gary. Barnidge. There’s no way he doesn’t end up as the Ravens’ most productive TE.

Brian Hawkes – Due to sheer volume, someone will emerge. We’ve watched Gilmore and Pitta be fantasy relevant over the past two seasons, and neither player is “special.” As far as which player, it will be…I have no idea. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s most likely Gilmore, but I would be cautious as he returns from double shoulder surgeries. The Ravens should invest in additional depth before the season starts, and if they do bring in a player of Gary Barnidge’s caliber – he would immediately become the favorite.

Who is your pipe dream TE that you are grabbing at the end of rookie or startup drafts?

Emmett Kiernan – Jonnu Smith is a guy who I think has a chance to step into the lead job for the Titans after Delanie Walker slows down. Walker will turn 33 before the season. The Tennessee Pro-Bowler raved about the Smth after seeing him in minicamp for the first time. ““One day he will be better than me,” said Walker. That is high praise coming from a guy who has been one of the best at his position the last few years. When Delanie is on the way out, Marcus Mariota will just be hitting his prime. What a great situation to be in.

Joshua JohnsonI really really like “workout warrior” Bucky Hodges. He is a project though so I will lean on the veteran Trey Burton. The Eagles new receiver weaponry could make things mighty easy for Burton who caught 37 passes on just a 29% snap share last year. He has real move-TE abilities. The Eagles paid him 1.6 million over the first three years of his career and they gave him 2.7 million to stick around for one more season. Zach Ertz is a legit TE1. However, Burton would be top dawg in the case of an injury. He is a versatile and an overly competent cog in the Philadelphia machine.

Greg Brandt – I’ve been grabbing Dion Sims up late in dynasty startups. He has as good a chance as anybody on the Bears to take over the starting tight end role.

Listed at 6’4″ 271 Sims is a tight end who will be able to see the field at all times. He won’t be taken off the field in potential run situations. Another late tight end whom I love grabbing is Butt. I like Butt a lot. Jake Butt has an easy road to the potential number one tight end spot for the Denver Broncos. I don’t see one name on the depth chart that I don’t see Butt surpassing in 2018 for the starting role. Butt had the potential to be drafted much earlier in the NFL draft if it wasn’t for an ACL tear in the final game of his college career. Both players have the potential to start with the lack of depth in front of them.

Eric Iannaccone – Call me crazy, but it’s Rico Gathers of the Dallas Cowboys. If you don’t know his story, he’s a former Baylor basketball player who the Cowboys drafted in 2016 with the 217th pick. Being a basketball player, he was seen as a project. With his raw athletic ability, it’s certainly a project that could pay off. He has all the time he needs, and a fount of knowledge to learn from, while he sits on the depth chart behind Jason Witten. He has a decent shot at making the team’s 53 man roster this season with James Hanna and Geoff Swain still recovering from injuries. It may be a couple more years before he produces for your fantasy team, but if you have the roster space, he’s a great stash at the end of your startup draft.

Brian Hawkes – Jonnu Smith. I’ve been able to get Smith into the fourth round of rookie drafts, and I continue to be amazed. As we watch Delanie Walker (33 years old) produce season after season in the Titans offense – I think it’s fair to say the opportunity is nice in Nashville. Walker has already gone on record as saying “one day he (Smith) will be better than me”…and that “one day” will likely be the 2019 season. Walker’s contract is up after 2018, and that works quite nicely as most tight ends take a couple of seasons before they are primed for fantasy relevance. I fully expect Jonnu Smith to be a fantasy difference maker…in 2019. I’m happy to draft him late and let him develop on my taxi squad.




I am searching for the meaning of every bump on the pigskin. From leather helmets to a league with no point after attempts, I am researching with a wide shovel. -married/father/music fan/Raider Nation baby/deli meat enthusiast/three-cone extremist

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