Tight ends in fantasy include subsets of studs, starters, streamers, and the rest of the position. Whether paying a high draft cost or using the waiver or committee to find an undervalued producer, tight ends are all about leverage against the investment.
Also, this is specifically looking for TE1 producers for 2021 who have yet to produce such a season-to-date.
Round 1 tight ends break out for the first time more often in Year 4 and beyond than the first three seasons. This differs for Round 2, where they break out in Years 1-3 more often than Year 4 and later. The same applies for Round 3-4 pedigree, where they hit earlier despite a lower overall success rate.
On to the 2021 tight end breakout candidates and their projected draft cost:
Beyond Michael Thomas, New Orleans is riddled with questions among the wide receiver group, while the tight end position is thin. Adam Trautman is one of the glaring names for 2021. Trautman has Round 3 pedigree and Jared Cook moved on in free agency to clear the depth chart. Jameis Winston has fed tight ends during his career. This bodes well for Trautman if Winston is the full-time starting quarterback for the Saints.
Gerald Everett will have a host of depth chart competition in Seattle with good enough options like Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson. However, neither possesses Everett's athleticism as a receiver. Two strong wide receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett stunt the likely upside of Seattle's starting tight end, but at least there are WR3+ questions on the depth for a tertiary option, plus there is the attachment to Russell Wilson.
Irv Smith is a trendy breakout candidate. He comes with the second-highest draft cost of inclusions in this article (Kyle Pitts) and is already in the TE1 zone. The demerits for Smith are likely being fourth in the Minnesota pecking order (Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook) and comments from the coaching staff of Smith staying in his role from last season and the team liking the upside with Tyler Conklin. Smith has the pedigree and early flash moments to warrant consideration, but a lower price point would be optimal to offer more profit potential.
- David Njoku, TE30+
- Dalton Schultz, TE25+
- Blake Jarwin, TE20+
- Anthony Firkser, TE20-30
- Dawson Knox, TE30+
David Njoku certainly fits the profile, entering Year 5 with Round 1 pedigree. The Browns depth chart is cloudy, to say the least, with Austin Hooper on a strong contract and Harrison Bryant having a relevant role as a Day 3 rookie in 2020. Njoku being traded would vault his upside formula or an in-house injury to consolidate the depth chart.
Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin, both in Dallas, make the perfect-storm potential for a breakout season. The level of the passing game could be the top team in the entire NFL and, despite a strong wide receiver corps, could still produce a top-12 tight end. Jarwin returning from a major injury but was earmarked for the starting role in 2020. Schultz was a viable starter (mid-TE2) in Jarwin's absence. This could turn into a murky committee split, but if either is the clear starter, top-12 is within range.
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