3 Tight Ends That Could Bust This Year
Every year there are late-round tight ends you can draft or those that you can find during the first few weeks on the waiver wire. What about those who are being drafted as top-12 options? We have our ADP to guide us during drafts, however, the end-of-year results rarely look the same as the order that they are drafted. Let’s take a look at 3 tight ends that could bust this year and not deliver value compared to where they are currently being drafted.
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (ADP: 4.12, TE 5)
After Darren Waller’s breakout 2020 campaign in which he hauled in 107 receptions, 1,196 yards, and 9 touchdowns, he disappointed fantasy owners in 2021 when he was chosen as a top-3 tight end but finished as the TE 18. He finished low because he only played in a total of 11 games, however, aside from Week 1’s outlier of a game where he caught 10 of 19(!) targets for 105 yards and a touchdown, he didn’t do a ton. He was able to put up 50-70 yards a game, which is good compared to having to pick up a waiver wire tight end with the chance of giving you a 0, but for a top-3 pick, he did not deliver.
If things were the same personnel wise I would say Waller is underrated heading into the season as everyone likes to look solely at the box score and not the overall situation. However, as everyone knows, Davante Adams signed with the Raiders who is reuniting with his old college QB. Simply put, between Adams and Renfrow, I don’t think Waller will see the high-level target share that he needs to finish as a top-5 TE. There are recent reports that say they will use him more in the red zone, but have you not seen what Adams can do near the goal line? He’s borderline un-coverable. For those reasons, I’m out on Waller at his current ADP.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 8.01, TE 9)
Dawson Knox just had an amazing 2021 season in which he played 15 games, racking up 49 receptions (career high), 587 yards (career high), and 9 touchdowns (career high). He finished as the TE 8 in half-PPR leagues and was a huge contributor to the Bills making the AFC Championship game. Knox isn’t going as a top-5-8 option, but his ADP still worries me for a couple of reasons.
First, he’s coming off of a ton of career-high milestones in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Similar to Waller’s drop, if he dips the slightest in TDs, he’s left with his 39 yards per game. If he scores only 3-5 touchdowns he’s not going to be a top 10 tight end. He does not receive enough receptions to make him worth a top-9 TE, however, he is on a good offense and the TD luck could continue. If you’re drafting in your home league with some Bills fans, his ADP will be much higher than where it currently is.
Lastly, the Bills acquired James Cook in the draft, Jamison Crowder through free agency, and everyone loves Gabriel Davis. At this rate, Josh Allen will have to throw for 5,000 yards to support all of these fantasy options. And that also includes Stefon Diggs who seemed to leave a bit on the table in terms of production last year. We love to target the Bills’ offense but everyone cannot exceed their ADP this year. I think it’s Knox who takes a step back and is not as featured near the goal line.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 9.07, TE 10)
Mike Gesicki had a productive year in 2021 with Tua, racking up 73 receptions for 780 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Unlike Knox, Gesicki was a target monster last year and often found himself lining up in the slot or outside - he was basically a wide receiver for the past two years. I’m down on him for this exact reason. Jaylen Waddle will get his 100+ receptions and the addition of Tyreek Hill absolutely destroys the value we had with Gesicki. No longer can we confidently start him and assume he will get his 5+ targets a game. He’s going to be asked to block more and, unfortunately, we can’t count on him as an every-week starter.
There is a possibility that Waddle and Hill positively contribute to Gesicki seeing more open looks down the seam, however, the Dolphins brought in Mike McDaniel who will operate a running system similar to how they did in San Francisco - keeping the tight end in on zone running plays. Last year this reduced George Kittle’s overall upside for the 49ers. Around Gesicki’s ADP I would rather take a chance on Austin Hooper, who has an opportunity to catch a lot of balls in Tennessee; Cole Kmet, who is basically the second pass-catcher on the team; or Robet Tonyan Jr., as he returned to training recently and has a clear rapport with Aaron Rodgers.
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