Join the Footballguys Daily Update
Start your morning with our roundup of the most important stories in football - with the fantasy insight you need to make league-winning decisions. Delivered straight to your inbox, 100% free.
Links to similar discussions on other positions:
A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Here is the player who received the most votes:
- Tyler Higbee -- and it wasn't even close
Keep reading to see all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 8 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: Higbee has already proven that he can be an elite fantasy tight end when Gerald Everett isn't around to split targets. The Rams don't have another tight end to fully take up Everett's snaps and targets, so Higbee's role should grow. Perhaps some of the reason for his December fantasy scoring spree was based on Jared Goff's limited abilities, but Matthew Stafford should give this offense more scoring drives and more depth of target. More downfield passing should open up the middle of the field for Higbee to do his thing.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Higbee's modest ADP is a head-scratcher. When Higbee had his amazing run over the final five games of the 2019 regular season -- 56 receptions, 522 yards, two touchdowns -- Gerald Everett was absent other than four snaps in one of those games. Now Everett is in Seattle, Higbee has gotten a quarterback upgrade with the arrival of Matthew Stafford, and the Rams don't have another established pass-catching tight end on their roster.
Ryan Hester: Higbee loses competition for targets with Gerald Everett's departure and gains a quarterback capable of distributing the ball to many targets in Matthew Stafford. Rookie hybrid receiver/tight end prospect Jacob Harris is catching buzz in OTAs, but he's not nearly the level of competition Everett was. Harris started playing football late in life and still learning the game, let alone one of the hardest positions for rookies to learn.
Andy Hicks: It’s easy to focus on the magnificent performance of Tyler Higbee in the last half of the 2019 season. A detailed look at Higbee’s performance when Gerald Everett was absent at other times illustrates the potential that Higbee has in 2021 for fantasy managers. The other Tight Ends on the roster will have a role for sure, but none are genuine receiving targets at this stage of their careers. I believed that Higbee would come back to earth in 2020 with the return of Everett and am ready to jump back on with his rival now in Seattle.
Troy King: Higbee was a disappointment last year given his ADP and inconsistent play throughout the season. This is currently being reflected in his 2021 ADP. With the departure of Gerald Everett and upgrade in QB with Matthew Stafford, Higbee should have a bounce-back season. Even though it’s a different offense, Stafford has shown in the past that he likes to target his TEs. I believe Higbee can be the 3rd option in target share behind Woods and Kupp.
Jordan McNamara: Since 2017, Tyler Higbee has played 57 games. In the 49 with Gerald Everett also playing, Higbee had a 16 game pace of 55 targets, 38 receptions, 437 yards, and two touchdowns. In the 8 games without Everett, Higbee had a 16 game pace of 116 targets, 90 receptions, 1008 yards, and 10 touchdowns, which would have been TE3 in 2020. Everett was signed in free agency by Seattle, leaving Higbee the potential to be full TE1 in the Rams offense.
Matt Waldman: Higbee dealt with hand and elbow injuries early on and didn't play up to massive expectations in 2020 that was based on an incredible 2019 stretch run. Rookie Jacob Harris is a favorite of mine, but he's a 211-pound wide receiver labeled as a tight end whose impressive minicamp is just that, minicamp. Stafford has a history of supporting fantasy production from tight ends less talented than Higbee. Expect Higbee and Matthew Stafford to generate a rapport that will put Higbee closer to his elite potential than what we saw last year.
Ryan Weisse: Have to agree with many others and say, Higbee. The 2020 disappointment has turned him into a post-hype sleeper for 2021. Nobody will want him, as shown by his 12th round+ ADP, and he is as likely to land in the top-10 for tight ends as just about anyone. The losses of Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, and most importantly, Gerald Everett, will lead to a natural expansion of his role. The addition of competent quarterback play, a la Matt Stafford, will make that role very valuable for fantasy. The fact that you land him with one of your last picks, as the TE16, mitigates all risk. Higbee is all value in 2021.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Andy Hicks: There is no doubt that Rob Gronkowski has risks in 2021. The return of O.J. Howard, his age, and a reduced target share limit his upside. The lack of decent fantasy tight ends lifts Gronkowski to a bottom-tier fantasy starter with his skill in the endzone, rapport with Tom Brady, and explosive skillset. An even better option in best-ball leagues, Gronkowski can be drafted as a backup and played as a starter regularly.
Matt Waldman: Howard was a favorite fantasy value for me last summer but his injury cost him that opportunity to make good on it. Gronkowski looked like the player of old down the stretch and I expect more of the same in 2021. He'll earn some high-leverage shots up the seam and easier looks thanks to the presence of three excellent wide receivers. Gronkowski and Brady also had to get acclimated to the progressions and coverage calls that they were used to running in New England that was different under Bruce Arians. Look for them to be more aligned with the Bucs' offense this year. If I downgrade Gronkowski over the summer, it will be due to me giving Howard one last shot to make good on his potential. However, I had reservations about Howard's approach to the game at Alabama and I'm wondering if there isn't something to that.
Jason Wood: It's been four years since Rob Gronkowski was the league's top fantasy tight end, and that span includes a lost season to retirement. But his current ADP portrays him as a tertiary contributor instead of one of Tom Brady's trusted red zone assets. Gronkowski's ceiling is capped, he's never going to be a 1,000-yard, 10+ touchdown producer again. But he finished as the No. 8 tight end last year, coming off retirement. Why should we presume he's incapable of matching or slightly exceeding last year's marks?
Phil Alexander: We got a preview of what Smith's fantasy output will look like post-Kyle Rudolph from Weeks 14-17 in 2020. With Rudolph (now on the Giants) sidelined with a foot injury, Smith racked up 15 catches, 183 yards, and three touchdowns across a four-game sample, which placed him behind only Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and Logan Thomas in tight end PPR scoring over that span. If you miss out on a difference-maker at tight end early in your draft, prioritize Smith as an affordable breakout candidate.
Ryan Hester: Mike Zimmer recently said that Smith won't have a bigger role in the offense than he did in 2020, but that seems like coach-speak more than substantive information. Kyle Rudolph is gone from the picture, and Smith's athleticism will result in targets as he sees the field more. Zimmer's comments were more to talk up Tyler Conklin than to disparage Smith's chances. At worst, Smith is the more athletic and more experienced member of a 75/25 tight end committee. At best, he emerges to become a near every-down player who can be a clear third in the team's pecking order for targets.
Jason Wood: As Phil noted, Smith showed us what he can do as the starter in the final month of the season when Kyle Rudolph was out. Smith's final month projects to 85 targets, 64 receptions, 778 yards, and 13 touchdowns over a 17-game season. Sometimes fantasy managers can let recency bias creep in, particularly in an era when rookie skill players frequently step into prominent roles. But Smith came into the league with a pedigree and near-elite athleticism. The only piece missing from a breakout was the opportunity to displace a viable team leader in Rudolph.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Victoria Geary: Dallas Goedert fits the perfect breakout tight end mold this year with a low ADP and the potential to lead his team in targets. Each year, the top-performing tight ends follow a similar pattern - they have no bonafide stud WR2 on their team. With Zach Ertz presumably out the door, Goedert's only true competition for targets is their newly added wide receiver, DeVonta Smith. From Weeks 10-16, Goedert was the PPR TE6 averaging 11.6 PPR points per game (tied with Robert Tonyan Jr). Though injuries held him back from his true potential last year, the door is open for his fourth-year breakout in 2021.
Jeff Haseley: If Zach Ertz is elsewhere in 2021 as expected, Dallas Goedert becomes the #1 tight end threat for Philadelphia. Another tight end may step up and provide necessary snaps, but Goedert will be the one who benefits most. When Ertz was out in Weeks 7-12 last season, Richard Rodgers and Goedert stepped up in his absence, but now Rodgers is a free agent leaving only Goedert. As it stands now, he is the main threat for tight end targets on a team with no true WR1 other than the expectations for rookie Devonta Smith. As a result, we could be looking at a rise in production compared to what we've seen in the past from Goedert.
Anthony Amico: The Patriots spent a ton of money this off-season to improve on offense, and most of what was spent on offensive skill players was on these two tight ends. Nelson Agholor is an upgrade over whomever you considered to be their WR1 in 2020, but it seems likely this passing game is going to be driven through the tight ends. Henry and Smith should be fine with Cam Newton under center, but a change to Mac Jones could greatly increase the raw target numbers for both players come fantasy playoff time.
Troy King: The original excitement for Jonnu to the Patriots quickly faded after Hunter Henry was signed shortly after. Smith has proved to be a red-zone weapon and an athletic asset that can be used even out of the backfield. The four-year $50 million dollar deal solidifies the belief that they plan to utilize Smith heavily in the offense. Even though the Patriots spent a lot of money on mid-tier wide receivers, I can see the offense running through the tight end position. Regardless if it’s Cam Newton or Mac Jones starting.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Drew Davenport: It is pretty hard to look at Engram's 8.81 PPR points per game and get excited for 2021. But among all tight ends, he ranked fifth with 63 receptions, eighth in receiving yards, and fourth in targets with 109. The problem was that he was hurt by just two touchdowns and the struggles of quarterback Daniel Jones who threw for an abysmal 11 passing scores. If Engram had scored even two more touchdowns (in line with his previous three years totals) he would've ranked as the TE8 on the season. The Giants offense had about as bad of a year as they could've in 2020, but will have the services of Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay to start the year. So, if the same volume is there for Engram this coming season he will substantially outperform his current draft position and could land in the Top 8 at the position.
Pat Fitzmaurice: It seems inevitable that Ertz will land with another team, at which point we may see at least a modest rebound for his moribund ADP. Is it possible that one of the better pass-catching tight ends of the last decade simply toppled over the age cliff in his age-30 season? Sure, but it seems as if the Eagles' myriad offensive woes in 2020 and the high-ankle sprain that sidelined Ertz for five games and may have limited him in others would better explain the worst season of his five-year NFL career. Take Ertz at the tail end of your draft and drop him if he doesn't work out. If Ertz can regain his previous form or something close to it, your profit margin will be enormous.
Drew Davenport: The best thing about Fant's ADP is that drafters can get him at what appears to be his fantasy floor. Consider that last year he finished as the PPR TE8 and the TE12 in points per game. But he played one game with Kendall Hinton at quarterback (1 reception for 13 yards), played just five snaps in another, and left yet another game early. Adjusting for the 13 games he played 75% of the snaps or more would've landed him as the TE6 in points per game. The Broncos offense is very likely to have a new quarterback in 2021, be it Teddy Bridgewater or Aaron Rodgers, and a spike in scoring opportunities and offensive efficiency could easily push the talented Fant into elite territory.
Chad Parsons: Hockenson is in his prime window to escalate to a peak season. As a former top-10 pick, expect Hockenson - along with D'Andre Swift - to be a cornerstone element of Detroit's passing game. Hockenson was TE5 in aPPG in 2020, his second season, seeing 101 targets. This was on an offense with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola collecting 216 targets between them. All three are gone from the roster. Hockenson is poised to be among the target leaders for tight ends and is a potential tier crasher into the Travis Kelce-Darren Waller zone of the position.
Sigmund Bloom: Surely his ADP is going to go up in the wake of the Julio Jones trade, but not enough. Pitts ADP should be in the range of George Kittle. He is the first tight end to be drafted in the top five and the first to be the first non-quarterback selected. There is a Julio Jones-sized hole in the target pie chart that Pitts is more than capable of filling. There has never been a receiving tight end like Pitts to come our way before. He will be a foundational player from day one and should easily beat expectations that are dragged down by the history of rookie tight ends that weren't the first non-quarterback taken in their draft.