FL Free Agency will begin on March 17th and there are several big storylines to watch for tight ends in preparation for your fantasy teams.
The Chargers chose not to resign Hunter Henry and declined to use the franchise tag. Henry has never played a full 16 game schedule, so the fact the Chargers let him test free agency should be a cautionary note. After eight touchdowns in his rookie season, Henry projected for high-end fantasy production, but he has settled more into a lower-end TE1 type profile.
Kyle Rudolph was a cap casualty in Minnesota. His departure should create an opportunity for Irv Smith’s expanded role, while Rudolph should be a veteran option for a contending team. In the three years prior to Smith’s arrival, Rudolph averaged 98 targets per game. His ceiling is not that high at 32 years old but could be a TE2 option at TE3-4 prices.
From 2017 through 209, Jared Cook averaged 55 receptions, 763 yards and 5.7 touchdowns, putting him in the company of Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz as TE1 finishers for the three-year span. Like much of the New Orleans offense, Cook’s 2020 season was a disappointment. He enters free agency on a low note, but similar to Kyle Rudolph, he could be a TE2 option at much cheaper prices if he signs with a contender.
Gerald Everett had a career-high in receptions and yards in 2020. The problem is his career-best are 41 receptions and 417 yards. Everett has been rumored in trade discussions for years, so it should not be surprising if he has a robust free agency market.
Jonnu Smith looks similar to Gerald Everett on paper, with a career year of 41 receptions and 448 yards in 2020. His trump card over Everett is his eight touchdowns. Smith started hot to the 2020 season, with five touchdowns in his first four games. The splits were extreme after week five, as he had 2.2 fewer receptions per game and 32.55 fewer receiving yards. Which version of Jonnu Smith shows up in 2021 will have a significant impact of his performance after free agency.
Trey Burton will be an interesting free agent. He has never been a true TE1 for his team, and could potentially reunite with Carson Wentz in Indianapolis if he re-signs. Burton is more of a weekly streamer than core contributor in 2021.
Potential Risk Profiles
With free agency upcoming, there are veterans with tenous holds on their current job.
Anthony Firkser is a potential in house replacement for Jonnu Smith. He was a top 10 tight end in yards per route run in 2020 (1.67), which is a good sign of potential in the event he gets an opportunity at a starting position.
Logan Thomas led the position in tight end routes, but ranked in the bottom 12 of yards per route run. With an offense in need of offensive weapons, Washington could look to upgrade the position.