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It’s hard to believe the NFL regular season is here, but Week 1 gets underway on Thursday. If you're like me, you've still got several key drafts to get done in the next few days. After spending more than four months focusing on every bit of minutiae, every tidbit, every coach’s quote, and adjusting our rankings and projections, accordingly, a lot can change from our original expectations. Here's a look at how my viewpoints have evolved from initial expectations in early May.
Kyle Pitts (ATL) isn’t the most overrated player in fantasy, but he’s still risky at ADP
Before Julio Jones was traded, Kyle Pitts was ridiculously overdrafted. Even the greatest tight ends in NFL history have struggled for fantasy relevance as rookies, and the hype surrounding Pitts was off the charts. But with Jones’ trade to Tennessee, there’s an undeniable target vacuum that raises Pitts’ floor. But he still shouldn’t be going ahead of proven commodities, including T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews.
Cole Kmet’s (CHI) sleeper status is fading
Kmet’s snap count markedly increased late last year, but his statistical output didn’t. We needed to hear drumbeats from training camp to suggest Kmet would become a featured part of the passing offense. That never happened, as receiver Darnell Mooney was the talk of camp, instead.
C.J. Uzomah (CIN) was worth a late-round flier
Uzomah missed 14 games last year, but he’s 100% healthy now and should be a fixture in a pass-happy game plan, particularly in the red zone.
Blake Jarwin (DAL) and Dalton Schultz are going to commoditize each other
The Blake Jarwin hype train never left the station last summer when he suffered a season-ending injury, and Schultz was serviceable in his stead. Many expected Jarwin to re-assert his No. 1 position this preseason, but it never happened. The simple truth is Jarwin and Schultz are both talented and will both play a lot.
Robert Tonyan Jr (GB) isn’t a total fade, but he’s still the riskiest consensus TE1
When Aaron Rodgers’ status was unclear, Tonyan was an easy fade at any draft position. With the Hall of Fame quarterback back in the fold, Tonyan’s floor is much higher. But his fantasy value was tied into an unsustainable touchdown rate, which makes him the most likely consensus top-12 tight end to fall short of value.
Minnesota (MIN) faces a cavernous hole at tight end
Irv Smith’s season-ending injury leaves the Vikings with a massive question mark, especially with Tyler Conklin also banged up. Chris Herndon gets yet another chance to tease fantasy managers, but he’s no better than a waiver-wire watchlist option until we see him put it all together.
Adam Trautman’s (NO) sleeper status is fading
Trautman was on a short-list of tight ends I recommended targeting very late in drafts given the importance of the position in the Saints offense and Michael Thomas’ injury woes leaving plenty of targets up for grabs. But Trautman had zero buzz all summer and was often overshadowed by Juwan Johnson.
Tyler Kroft (NYJ) might be the late-round target we all missed
No one can blame us for discounting Tyler Kroft’s fantasy prospects, given his injury history. Still, he outlasted a litany of contenders for the throne and emerged as the king of the Jets pecking order.
Zach Ertz (PHI) is still an Eagle, and that bodes ill for Dallas Goedert
Even when Zach Ertz was considered a goner, Dallas Goedert was never a safe pick as your TE1. But now that Ertz has made the 53-man roster and been the better player throughout the preseason and camp, we have to accept that both talented tight ends will commoditize each other. The Eagles aren’t going to have the passing volume to support two fantasy-relevant tight ends every week.
Anthony Firkser’s (TEN) sleeper status is fading
Firkser was another unproven tight end whose situation lured us into drafting him late as a potential breakout. But opportunity is only half the battle, and Firkser may not have the ability to deliver on Jonnu Smith’s vacated target share.
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