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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, by a huge margin
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 10 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: Higbee was the #1 fantasy tight end for December 2019 once upon a time. Jared Goff and his unimpressive downfield passing game is gone, but so is Gerald Everett, whose absence coincided with Higbee's short-lived breakout. His volume may drop from December 2019 levels, but he should also be in a better offense, with more downfield targets. He is the cheapest tight end with top-six upside.
James Brimacombe: Gerald Everett is now out of town, and Matthew Stafford is instantly an upgrade at the quarterback position. Higbee looks locked into a productive 2021 season just based on those two situations. You can also consider that Cam Akers is now out for the season, which could boost more passing opportunities in the passing game, which could directly affect Higbee. It is now or never for Higbee to produce, and I am willing to give it one more shot with this TE that is coming off of TE9 and TE17 seasons.
Ben Cummins: I’m a believer in the idea that Matthew Stafford will take the Rams’ offense to the next level in 2020, and if so, he’ll be taking Tyler Higbee with. Higbee was an absolute monster down the stretch in 2019. In games that Gerald Everett missed or played little due to injury that season, Higbee averaged 7.9 more targets per game, 6 more receptions per game, 83.2 more receiving yards per game, and 0.3 more TDs per game. Due to football’s small sample size, sometimes we have to wait a bit before a glimpse of being elite turns into sustained production. After sharing time with Everett and dealing with Jared Goff’s lackluster play in 2020, Higbee projects to be unleashed as Stafford and Sean McVay’s main TE this season.
Pat Fitzmaurice: As many of my colleagues have noted, the addition of Matthew Stafford and the departure of Gerald Everett bode well for Higbee, who gave us a tantalizing glimpse of his ceiling when he had a five-game eruption at the end of the 2019 regular season (43 catches for 522 yards and two touchdowns).
Victoria Geary: It's hard to disagree with everyone else in identifying Higbee as one of my absolute favorite tight ends for this upcoming season. When teammate Gerald Everett was out for the last five games of the 2019 season, Higbee showed us exactly what he can do as the top tight end option for the Rams. He went on an absolute tear as the TE1 from Weeks 13 through 17, averaging 104 yards, 8.6 targets, and 21.4 PPR points per game. With Everett leaving in free agency and new quarterback Matthew Stafford now at the helm, Higbee has fantastic potential to carve out a consistent weekly fantasy option at the tight end position.
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 caught 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 Higbee's potential in 2021 for fantasy managers. The other tight ends on the roster will certainly have a role, 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 former rival now in Seattle.
Troy King: Higbee was a disappointment last year, which is playing a part in where he's currently being valued. With Gerald Everett in SEA and the addition of Stafford, Higbee has a chance to put up TE1 numbers every week. The entire offense is expected to take a step forward this year, and Higbee will be one of the benefactors, especially since the Rams enjoy using 12 personnel.
Matt Waldman: Higbee dealt with hand and elbow injuries early on and didn't play up to massive expectations in 2020 that were 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: Higbee's value is a matter of addition and subtraction. The addition of Matt Stafford and the subtraction of Gerald Everett. We all saw what Higbee was capable of in a very small sample back in 2019. Then, everyone got far too excited and overdrafted him last year. Now, after that season of disappointment, his ADP has come full circle. Sean McVay's system has always been friendly to the tight end, and we should see the best of that scheme with Matt Stafford at quarterback.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Phil Alexander: Hockenson coming off draft boards a full round later than Kyle Pitts, and sometimes behind Mark Andrews, will seem absurd in retrospect when we look back at the 2021 season. He enters the year as the most talented pass-catcher on a team that will have to throw the ball a ton to stay competitive in games. And it can only help that Hockenson operates in the areas of the field where Jared Goff isn't afraid to throw. At his current ADP, you won't find a better floor/ceiling combination from any other tight end.
Sigmund Bloom: Hockenson is the most dependable and talented pass-catcher on a team that won't win many games and, therefore, will have to throw a lot. Jared Goff made Tyler Higbee a fantasy superstar in a similar situation in December 2019. Hockenson is also entering his third season and should start to hit his prime and show why the Lions used the #8 overall pick on him. He should be drafted well ahead of Mark Andrews.
Ryan Hester: Echoing what many have said already about Hockenson, he's an incredible athlete and is Detroit's most proven pass-catcher. The only slight knock on his outlook is that Detroit will be a bad team, and fantasy tight end production correlates positively to the total number of points a team scores. But Hockenson's situation and volume should be enough to counter that and make him a value.
Andy Hicks: After the 2021 season finishes, it will have seemed obvious that T.J. Hockenson was an elite Tight End waiting to breakout. It is almost the classical development pattern for the very best. Get drafted high, struggle in their rookie season but show promise. Expectations are sky-high for year two but fall short. Year three, take that leap. With his new head coach familiar with the position, a desperate lack of wide receiver options, and a quarterback who needs to get the ball out quickly, Hockenson will be a star.
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 Jr, and Danny Amendola collecting 216 targets. 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.
Jason Wood: Since last preseason, I've been banging the Hockenson drum and will continue to push for him until the fantasy community fully appreciates his value. Hockenson going a round or two after Kyle Pitts is criminally absurd, and Hockeson stands an excellent chance of outperforming Mark Andrews and George Kittle, too. The third-year tight end is literally the only difference-maker among the Lions' receiving options, and Jared Goff is at his best throwing to short and intermediate zones -- where Hockenson makes his living. He could push to break Zach Ertz's single-season reception mark if he stays healthy.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Dan Hindery: Matt Waldman has written about how Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense could put together a monster season, and that notion does not seem farfetched. This passing offense took a while to get rolling last year but looked unstoppable late in the season. Over the final four games, Brady threw for 1,333 yards and 12 touchdowns with an adjusted net yards-per-attempt of 11.2. If you buy into the notion that Brady could have a 50-touchdown type of season, it is easy to envision Gronkowski regularly finding his way into the end zone.
Matt Waldman: Howard was a favorite fantasy value for me last summer, but his Achilles injury cost him that opportunity to make good on it -- and likely a triumphant return to elite starter skills. 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 they were used to running in New England that was different under Bruce Arians. Look for them to be more aligned with the Buccaneers offense this year.
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?
James Brimacombe: Jace Sternberger was supposed to be the breakout star in Green Bay last season. We were all wrong; it was Tonyan by a mile, and he instantly became a favorite of Aaron Rodgers. Now that the Rodgers saga has dried out in Green Bay, I am looking for all Packers players as values. Tonyan is coming off a TE3 overall finish scoring a ridiculous 11 touchdowns in 15 games. Although duplicating those numbers feels suspicious, his current ADP isn't overly expensive, and betting on a season with 80%+ of what he accomplished last year is not out of the question.
Andrew Davenport: The return of Aaron Rodgers has caused Tonyan to become a value quickly. HOWEVER, the ADP is rising, so people may be waking up to his potential with the team's star quarterback in the fold again. His 2020 explosion of 11 touchdowns on only 52 receptions isn't sustainable. Still, when the offense has a threat like Davante Adams that defenses must account for, it isn't a stretch to believe Tonyan could be in line for a higher than average touchdown rate. Eleven touchdowns? Maybe not. But 60 catches and 7-8 TDs? Entirely possible. He doesn't need to repeat his monster 2020 to be a value in drafts where his ADP currently stands.
Jeff Haseley: A lot of people are fading Tonyan and his 11 touchdowns last season. There is a strong chance that he doesn't reach double-digit touchdowns in 2021, but he is the clear-cut tight end threat on a potent offense, which accounts for something. I would rather have Tonyan over Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, Tyler Higbee, and often he is being drafted after those players are selected. Tonyan had more TE1 weekly finishes in 2020 than several big-name tight ends, including T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Andrew Davenport: He's only been in the league for two years, but Fant posted a PPR TE8 fantasy finish last season and was the TE12 in points per game. His draft price right now seems to be his floor. The return of Courtland Sutton and the development of Jerry Jeudy should help whoever wins the quarterback job to make this offense reasonably fertile fantasy grounds. Fant's 62/673/3 line could easily turn into 75/800/5 with a moderate step forward. Fixating on only his floor, however, is a mistake. Fant has truly elite athleticism and first-round draft capital. Draft him for the floor, and if the ceiling comes into play, he'll make a run at the Top 5 at the position.
Dan Hindery: There is much love for fellow third-year tight end T.J. Hockenson, which is understandable given his talent and situation. I prefer Hockenson over Fant straight up. However, Fant is typically available two to four rounds later, making him the better draft day target. Those top six tight ends carry premium price tags and require you to pass on players with serious upside at other positions. Once you get past the top six, Fant has the most fantasy upside at the position. Despite missing time with an injury, Fant still hauled in 62 catches last year in his age-22 season. Fant is still an ascending player who has not yet reached his ceiling, making a major third-year breakout a possibility.
Justin Howe: I understand that the Miami passing game is crowded and uncertain. But Gesicki is slipping way too far for a guy who's (a) plenty athletic and (b) capable of leading his team in receptions. The worry over Tua Tagovailoa is that he maxes out as a checkdown artist, which would benefit Gesicki on shorter routes. Over their 8 games together last year, Gesicki drew 50 targets and averaged 53 yards a game, with 4 touchdowns. With the receiving corps so besieged by injury, suspension, and inexperience, it would be no surprise to see Gesicki threaten a 70-900-8 line.
Ryan Weisse: Gesicki has back-to-back seasons with more than 80 targets, 50 receptions, 500 yards, and five touchdowns. Those numbers alone are good enough for a top-15 season at tight end, and that is his floor. Last year, he was the 7th best fantasy tight end for the season and was the 4th best from Weeks 13-17, all with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Tagovailoa should be healthier and better prepared in 2021. Improved quarterback play will lead to even better numbers for Gesicki.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Justin Howe: Engram has lost a lot of luster since his big rookie season and with good cause. The Giants don't boast an enticing offense, and they're loaded (at least on paper) with mouths to feed. But Engram is sliding too far down draft boards, given his typically hefty stake in his offense. Over the past two years, he's commanded a stout 20.0% of Giants targets when healthy, good for 7.4 per game. I'm not concerned with Engram's drops from 2020 - that's not a very sticky stat year-to-year, and I actually expect an uptick in his catch rate. Kenny Golladay was added, but he doesn't profile as the target-hog type of receiver that will threaten Engram's role much. And I don't foresee Sterling Shepard remaining a contributor here much longer. Engram boasts real top-five potential at a discount that gets bigger and bigger as drafters take more stabs at wild upside. If I'm shopping for a TE1, there's no way I'm rolling the dice on a Robert Tonyan Jr or a Logan Thomas over Engram's proven volume.
Victoria Geary: Many are still on the fence about Goedert, as we are left in the dark wondering if Zach Ertz will be traded before or during the 2021 season. An argument can be made that Goedert is the better talent at this point in both his and Ertz's careers. Each year, the top-performing tight ends follow a similar pattern - they have no bonafide stud WR2 on their team. The Eagles have a severe lack of talent in their receiving corps, and Goedert will be the safety blanket for Hurts many times this season. If Zach Ertz is eventually traded, Goedert's only true competition for targets is the 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.
Pat Fitzmaurice: This is a chance for fantasy managers to get Kelce-caliber impact in the third round. Over the last three years, Kittle has averaged 80.6 receiving yards per game and 10.0 yards per target. Those are superstar numbers for a tight end, and Kittle is just entering the peak years of his career. It's a mistake to fade him because of the 49ers' quarterback ambiguity -- the 49ers have had mediocre quarterbacking throughout Kittle's career -- or the presence of talented young receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. With good health and some favorable touchdown regression, Kittle could have a monster season.
Jeff Haseley: In a breakout year, Logan Thomas finished with eight top-12 weekly finishes. Compare that to T.J. Hockenson (7), Mark Andrews (6), Noah Fan (3), Dallas Goedert (3). He was second on the team in targets (110) and led all Washington receivers with 19 red-zone targets. He is primed for more of the same, if not, more as he continues to be a reliable target for the Football Team.