a Midseason Rookie TE Report. Status check on the rookie tight end class

Dynasty Football Factory

Redraft Mid-Season Report: Rookie TE’s

 

Rookie Tight Ends, as a rule, struggle to register 500 yards in a season, and very rarely score more than 5 Touchdowns in their first season. But what a year 2017 has been for rookie tight ends. Tight end is typically a wait and see position where players take a couple of seasons to adapt to the game, learn to block and slowly see their snap-count rise over a few seasons. But this year has seen the emergence of one superstar, two match-ups based startable types and a handful of Tight Ends to watch as the season continues.


Evan Engram, New York Giants

Targets: 50    Recs: 32   Rec Yds: 342   Rec TDs: 3    

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: LAR (29) Week 14: DAL (27)
Week 10: @SF (28) Week 15: PHI (6)
Week 11: KC (19) Week 16: @ARI (14)
Week 12: @WAS (4)
Week 13: @OAK (16)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: DAL (27)
 Week 15: PHI (6)
 Week 16: @ARI (14)

After opening the season behind Rhett Ellison on the Giants depth chart, it took Evan all of one game to emerge as their clear number 1 TE in the passing game. Through 7 weeks Engram is 5th in the league at the position in targets and 6th in PPR points per game. These stats are seriously impressive for a rookie TE and are even more impressive when you consider this includes his random ‘4 targets for 0 catches’ goose-egg in week 5.  With the complete apocalypse of the Giants wide receiver corps, losing Odell Beckham Jr & Brandon Marshall for the season, Engram has emerged as the team’s no.1 option in the passing game. Even with the best receiver in the game, and a potential future Hall of Famer on the field, Engram was heavily involved early in the season averaging over 7 targets per game.

Since the injuries, his role has grown and is now averaging 8.5 targets per game. Engram saw a season-high 12 targets in his last game, in week 7. The rest of the season for Engram looks to continue as it has begun with only Sterling Shepard there to compete for the bulk of targets. On the face of it, his next 2 games seem like tough matchups, but the Rams have not faced many elite tight ends. When the Rams have faced a quality TE they have given up 11+ points (Jordan Reed, Jason Witten & Jimmy Graham).

The 49ers started the year out giving up no more than 7 PPR points to any TE through 5 weeks, but again they faced nobody dangerous. In their last 3 games they have given up 232 yards and 2 TDs to tight ends and at least 15.1 PPR points in each game. After taking this into account, Evan Engram has perhaps the easiest schedule of any TE in the league and will finish as a top 5 TE on the season.


O.J Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Targets: 18    Recs: 11   Rec Yds: 221   Rec TDs: 3      

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: NYJ (8)              
Week 10: @MIA (5)
Week 11: @ATL (21)
Week 12: @GB (32)
Week 13: DET (23)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: ATL (21)
Week 15: @CAR (24)
Week 16: NO (30)

 

When the Bucs selected O.J Howard with their first pick of the draft, many fantasy gamers wrote Cameron Brate off and O.J. Howard slated as a potential top 12 TE heading into the year. It hasn’t exactly gone that way. Cameron Brate remains the clear no.1 pass catching TE in Tampa. Howard has flashed his potential with a 2 catch, 63 yards and a TD performance in week 4, and a 6 reception game for 98 yards and 2 Tds in week 7. But he followed these games with a 1 target goose egg week 5, and a 2 target/16 yard game in week 8.

Starting O.J. so far this season has been a massive gamble and will continue to be as long as Cameron Brate is around. Even when Howard has scored well, Brate has too, having put up over 10 fantasy points for the last 6 weeks. Howard has shown his big play potential with an impressive 63-yard TD in week 4 and a 58-yard score in week 8. There are a couple of weeks of incredible match-ups coming up for Howard, but he is a desperation play at best going forward.


David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Targets: 32    Recs: 18   Rec Yds: 195  Rec TDs: 3

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: BYE               
Week 10: @DET (23)
Week 11: JAX (13)               
Week 12: @CIN (18)
Week 13: @LAC (31)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: GB (32)
Week 15: BAL (12)
Week 16: @CHI (22)

David Njoku is the best all-around TE of this class, and it’s my belief if he landed anywhere but Cleveland he would be the clear leader of this pack. Even on the inept Cleveland Browns Njoku has established himself as an important part of this offense and stands as the 16th ranked TE on the season. The QB situation has been a rollercoaster so far with the team switching back and forth between DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan. In spite of the uncertainty under center Njoku’s usage has remained consistent.

After seeing 2-4 targets for the first 5 weeks, his usage has increased, having seen 17 targets over the last 3 games. Njoku is an absolute man-mountain, and as such brings a massive TD threat. He has seen 6 Red Zone targets on the season and converted 2 of those for TDs. His 3rd TD on the year came on an impressive one-handed catch for a 21-yard score. His upcoming schedule is nothing to look forward to, but he will always be a threat if the Browns somehow find themselves in the Endzone. At this point, until we see the Browns move the ball better he will be tough to justify starting but someone I want to roster in deeper leagues or start in a bye week pinch.


George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Targets: 37    Recs: 22   Rec Yds: 250  Rec TDs: 1    

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: ARI (14)
Week 10: NYG (1)
Week 11: BYE                    
Week 12: SEA (15)
Week 13: @CHI (22)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: @HOU (7)
Week 15: TEN (20)
Week 16: @LAR (29)

Straight out of the 5th round and into 6 targets and 5 receptions in your first regular season game. I don’t think anybody called for George Kittle to be fantasy relevant this year but he is. Kittle is averaging 4.6 targets per game so far this year, with a high of 9 targets in week 5. The biggest surprise is Kittle’s red zone usage, having seen 9 RZ targets through 8 games, which puts him joint for 10th place in the entire NFL.

Kittle sees one of the softest schedules for a TE for the remainder of the season with favorable match-ups every week until fantasy championship week. Everything surrounding Kittle has improved this past week, with the 49ers upgrading at the QB position to Jimmy Garoppolo, and with the team’s target leader Pierre Garcon having been ruled out for the season. There’s every chance Kittle could lead the team in targets going forward, and if those targets are coming from Garoppolo anytime soon, he could be very relevant in the run-up to the playoffs.


Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

Targets: 16    Recs: 11   Rec Yds: 107   Rec TDs: 2

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: BAL (12)
Week 10: CIN (18)
Week 11: @PIT (25)                 
Week 12: @IND (11)
Week 13: HOU (7)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: @ARI (14)
Week 15: @SF (28)
Week 16: LAR (29)

Two early scores in the year are not going to be enough to unseat Delanie Walker as the No.1 Tight End in Tennessee. Jonnu’s performance so far is a sign of what is to come when Walker hangs up his cleats. As it stands, Walker might miss week 9, so we will see how Smith does in his absence. Regardless of how he performs he will continue to be the back-up, and unplayable in fantasy whenever Walker is healthy.


Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams

Targets: 13    Recs: 7   Rec Yds: 154  Rec TDs: 1

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: @NYG (1)
Week 10: HOU (7)
Week 11: @MIN (17)
Week 12: NO (30)
Week 13: @ARI (14)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: PHI (6)
Week 15: @SEA (15)
Week 16: @TEN (20)

Gerald Everett was drafted in the 2nd round by the Rams and got out to a great start with a 3 catch 95-yard effort in his 2nd regular season game. This was the outlier in his season so far as he has failed to register a snap share of more than 35% since week 1. On the season Everett has just 13 targets. He’s the clear number two behind Tyler Higbee and should not be rostered in even the deepest leagues.  


Adam Shaheen, Chicago Bears

Targets: 2    Recs: 1   Rec Yds: 2  Rec TDs: 1

Regular Season Remaining Schedule

Week 9: BYE       
Week 10: GB (32)
Week 11: DET (23)                    
Week 12: @PHI (6)
Week 13: SF (28)

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule

Week 14: @CIN (18)
Week 15: @DET (23)
Week 16: CLE (2)

Adam Shaheen was a preseason favorite of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but this has not transferred to the regular season in either of Trubisky’s starts so far. I usually wouldn’t have bothered writing up a guy with 1 catch for 2 yards on the season, but there is now a chance Shaheen breaks out this year. Chicago is entering their bye week and Zach Miller’s horrific knee injury leaves an average of 5 targets per game up for grabs. There is every chance a couple of these targets start to go Shaheen’s way. While the matchups are not great, if we see the chemistry from pre-season return we could be talking fantasy relevance.

 

Thanks for reading. What do you think of this year’s rookie TE class? Let me know in the comments. You can find me on Twitter @DFF_MSte .

mstephenson

GUKPT Supervisor & Writer for @DFF_Fantasy & @DFF_Dynasty. Follow me on Twitter @DFF_MSte. #DFFArmy #FantasyFootball #DynastyFootball

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