As we get to the weeks that are usually past the trade deadline in dynasty leagues (I am in one without a trade deadline, which is fun, but crazy during the playoffs when teams get into arms races), it’s time to look ahead to next year and target speculative players to fill end of the bench spots when we are eliminated from the playoffs. We’ll go position-by-position over the next four weeks and separate players out into Snorkel, Scuba, and Submarine levels to serve dynasty players of all levels.
Week 4: Tight End
Dawson Knox, BUF - Knox is hyperathletic and now that he’s over a spate of injuries (which is part of the reason he fell to the third round of the draft, along with playing in DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown’s shadow), Josh Allen is targeting him in the red zone, to the tune of at least one red zone target in each of the last four games and scores in three of them. He should continue to improve in his third year. In fantasy circles, he’ll be doubted because of the “too many mouths to find” argument, but Josh Allen has introduced a pass-heavy and efficient offense that should maximize the value of his targets, with Knox occupying a similar role to the one Blake Jarwin was going to be in if he hadn’t gone down early in the year.
David Njoku, CLE - Will he get traded in the offseason? His six million dollar price tag is reasonable for a top two tight end on a team, but Harrison Bryant is a green rookie and already ahead of Njoku on the depth chart. Njoku still looks physically dominant but sometimes raw as a football player. He should get a larger role on his next team, but you might have to wait until 2022.
Harrison Bryant, CLE - The Matt Waldman favorite has the look of a future starter, but he won’t have fantasy value for at least the next year or two unless Austin Hooper goes down. Bryant has shown enough burst in his routes to be a second level threat and he’s in an excellent offense for his skillset.
Mo Alie-Cox, IND - There are moments when Alie-Cox is the most awe-inspiring athlete on the field during a game. He is massive and can move, and is finally comfortable in a football uniform. He can’t seem to stay healthy and he’s mired in a committee, but he has the difference making ability to pull away from the pack eventually.
Josh Oliver, JAX - He has barely been able to stay on the field for the Jaguars, but they don’t have any long term answer at tight end and right now it looks like he’ll be catching passes from Trevor Lawrence - if he can avoid the injury bug.
Donald Parham Jr, LAC - Parham is a skyscraper but he moves well and he’s paired with Donald Parham Jr. Did I mention that Hunter Henry is a free agent next year and it would be cost prohibitive for the Chargers to use the franchise tag on him for the second straight year?
Adam Trautman, NO - Maybe catching passes from Taysom Hill won’t be so bad. Trautman developed well enough after being the first draft pick from Dayton to get on the field this year, which bodes well for his opportunity next year when Jared Cook is a free agent.
Tyler Higbee, LAR - Shouldn’t be on any dynasty waiver wires. Gerald Everett should move and while 2020 fourth rounder Brycen Hopkins is waiting in the wings, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be as impactful as Everett any time soon.
Gerald Everett, LAR - He has been a disappointing second round pick for Sean McVay - the first of his tenure, but Everett could get more snaps and targets on a second team that pays him and by virtue of that selection process, will be the team that wants to use him the most. He’s a pure receiving tight end who has a great fantasy profile in the right spot.
O.J. Howard, TB - Probably stashed on injured reserve, more of a buy low reminder for the offseason. Howard will get a bigger opportunity as he is getting into his prime years.
Chris Herndon, NYJ - Once upon a time we were very excited about him and the Adam Gase effect is real. Either way he’ll be a free agent in 2022.
Albert Okwuegbunam, DEN - Sure enough, Drew Lock peppered his college teammate with targets, especially in the red zone, but who knows how long Lock will be the starter in Denver. Okwuegbunam still showed his high-end athleticism will translate even if his inconsistency and lack of a killer instinct with the ball in the air will still betray him. He has the stuff we want in a fantasy tight end, but will require patience while he is in Noah Fant’s shadow even though the two are closer as players than the disparity in draft capital would indicate.
Kahale Warring, HOU - We’re at the end of year two and Warring hasn’t done anything, but he still hasn’t affirmatively failed and he has a lot of theoretical upside with Deshaun Watson at quarterback and no one seizing the job in front of him.
Jordan Akins, HOU - Maybe the light bulb will turn on for Akins in year four. The Texans don’t seem to want to commit to him after spending a third rounder on him in 2018, but he’ll get another chance to make his vertical speed matter in the NFL. He’s old for a player on his rookie deal - turning 29 this offseason, so his lack of developmental upside lowers his ceiling.
Foster Moreau, LV - Darren Waller is going to retire a Raider at this rate, but Moreau always has the look of a future starter with plus athleticism to add big play ability from the tight end position. If Jason Witten retires, Moreau should get more opportunity to show what he can do next year, but you might be waiting for a Waller injury or until he hits the open market in 2023 - where his services should be coveted.
Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, NE - Neither of these players did anything to assert themselves in their rookie year and Asiasi even gave off some negative indicators. Both have selling points - Asiasi’s two-way game and Keene’s athleticism - and opportunity ahead, but they are in an ugly offense.
Anthony Firkser, TEN - For reasons I can’t figure out, Firkser has zero buzz in dynasty circles. He has been more than competent when called upon and Jonnu Smith is a free agent next year. Firkser will be a restricted free agent, so his tender level should indicate how the Titans view him. He has a chance to start for them next year.
Dan Arnold, ARI - Arnold hasn’t consistently popped as a red zone target, but he has been a factor downfield at times, and Kyler Murray is still learning his way as a passer. I’ll be watching to see what level the Cardinals tender the restricted free agent.
Jace Sternberger, GB - Big Bob Tonyan stole his thunder, but you could see that he moves well for a big man in his limited opportunity. You might have to wait a few years, but Sternberger will eventually get a larger opportunity if he stays healthy and develops.
Adam Shaheen, MIA - Mike Gesicki is entering the last year of his rookie deal next year (as is Durham Smythe), which means that Shaheen is actually under contract the longest of any of the primary Dolphins tight ends. He has stayed on the field after his durability issues seemed to cause his departure from Chicago, and there have been glimmers of the size/athleticism combination that made him a second round pick in 2017. As a small school player he had a lot to learn, but he didn’t spend a lot of time on the field so far due to injuries, so he could be a late bloomer.
Kaden Smith, NYG - Smith had a strong finish to his rookie year after the Giants pilfered him from the team that drafted him when the 49ers tried to slip the sixth-round pick through waivers last September. He generated some buzz going into this year, but is still in Evan Engram’s shadow, Engram is under contract next year and didn’t get dealt at the deadline despite rumors to the contrary, and the Giants offense is a Jason Garrett puddle of mediocrity by design.
Hunter Bryant, DET - Has barely gotten on the field and already has a 44-yard catch. Bryant projected as a big slot pure pass catching tight end. While he’s not in an inspiring spot behind TJ Hockenson in an offense that could lose Matthew Stafford, he should be on your deep dynasty TE premium league radar.
Jacob Hollister, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson, SEA - Let’s just lump all of these guys together. Hollister has limited upside, but is competent and will be a free agent next year. Dissly has popped when he has gotten opportunity but has already had two catastrophic injuries. Parkinson has generated some buzz and could be the starter by the end of next season. Is being attached to Russell Wilson a good or bad thing for a passcatcher in fantasy? This situation is too complicated to give us a priority add.