Links to similar discussions on other positions:
Each offseason brings a good deal of veteran movement. In 2021, the tight end position was no different. We asked our staff to offer up the tight end on a new team they were most interested in.
Here are the names who were mentioned.
And here are all of the reasons.
Dan Arnold could surprise in Carolina. He was both productive and efficient in limited playing time for the Cardinals in 2020 and possesses the requisite size and athleticism we want in a fantasy-friendly tight end. Before Adam Gase tried square-pegging Chris Herndon into a blocking role, Sam Darnold looked for his young tight end frequently during his time with the Jets. If Arnold can beat out Ian Thomas for an every-down role, he could become a favorite of Darnold's, especially in the red zone where D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson aren't the types of receivers we should expect to box out defenders for jump balls.
I agree with Phil on Dan Arnold being a deeper name to know. Arnold has flashed on multiple teams with wide receiver-like skills and has the best opportunity to date to turn the flashes into more substantial production. Arnold is an ideal two-tight-end-format flyer.
The Patriots signing either Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith would've been noteworthy, and exciting for fantasy purposes. The decision to sign both creates a headache of uncertainty, particularly given the already volatile nature of week-to-week forecasting. Further complicating matters are how similar Henry and Smith have performed careers-to-date. They have remarkably similar career catch rates, touchdown rates, and yards-per-reception averages. The difference is Henry played in a pass-happy offense and received far more targets per game. That may lead some to forecast Henry as the better fantasy value, but keep in mind New England prioritized Smith at the very outset of free agency, leaving Henry out there to be wooed by another team. And ultimately Belichick gave Smith more guaranteed money. At a position where most fantasy managers will be trying to play the hot hand every week, can two players clearly deserving of top-8 roles co-exist on a team that may be near the league bottom in pass attempts? It's almost an indecipherable puzzle entering training camp.
I like both of the New England additions at the position, particularly Smith. The signing of two different tight ends would likely be a bigger deterrent for me on a team with some semblance of wide receiver depth. As it stands, the top two players in targets for the Patriots in 2021 may be tight ends. It would not surprise me to see the more athletic Smith featured in an Aaron Hernandez-esque role for this team. He fits the offense regardless of who is at quarterback, but the potential for Mac Jones to take over adds to the intrigue. There would presumably be much more passing with the rookie at the helm instead of Cam Newton.
Jared Cook is the most interesting tight end veteran moved on my board this offseason. Cook has been left for fantasy dead a few times in his career, but has found quality opportunities in recent stops and is still one of the more athletic options at the position in the NFL despite venturing into his mid-30s. Cook has three top-12 seasons under his belt in PPR PPG and a host of other top-20 seasons. With the Chargers offense (now without Hunter Henry) is Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler plus a collection of question marks in the passing game. Attached to Justin Herbert on a team that threw to tight ends 137 times last season, Cook is a quality bet for a top-15 fantasy finish.
Have to agree with Chad. If Jared Cook has anything left in the tank, he is going to be a nice weapon for Justin Herbert in Los Angeles. Herbert targeted the tight end position 130 times last season and the Saints, where new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi came from, targeted the position over 100 times in 2019. It also helps that Cook is familiar with Lombardi’s system from their mutual time in New Orleans. While it doesn’t take a lot to be a TE1 in fantasy, Hunter Henry was the TE12 for the Chargers last year. Jared Cook could hit the Top 10 pretty easily in his new home.
I like both the Dan Arnold and Jared Cook calls but will go with Gerald Everett. Underutilized in Los Angeles, the veteran goes to a team (and QB) that has made much lesser players fantasy TE1s for extended periods.
Everett is a good athlete who could threaten the Top 6 at the position in 2021. While that sounds ambitious, Will Dissly was a fantasy starter when healthy.
It bodes well for Everett that the Seahawks targeted him in free agency with Dissly and former draft pick Colby Parkinson still on the roster.
I'm not sure the targets will be there for Everett to crack the Top 6, Jeff, but back-end TE1 seems reasonable to me.
Everett has always possessed the size, speed, hands, and run-after-the-catch skills to cause mismatches for opposing defenses, but we only caught glimpses of his ability in LA's crowded passing game. In Seattle, he'll enjoy:
- A massive quarterback upgrade
- Room to roam the seam while defenses try to stop DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett downfield
- Familiarity with new offensive coordinator, Shane Waldron, from their time together with the Rams
At the very least, Everett belongs at the top of the streamer list for redraft gamers.
Phil, I was going by Dissly's top-six pace in 2019 with a small (six-game) sample size. Dissly caught 23 passes, with four for touchdowns, in those six games. Do I expect Everett to finish that high? No, but it's possible given Dissly's strong start to 2019.
It would be easy to repeat what the other guys have said about Gerald Everett, Hunter Henry, etc. It wouldn’t be interesting to talk about guys that will be almost fantasy irrelevant like Darren Fells, Nick Vannett, or Tyler Kroft.
I will instead talk about a move that is almost certain to happen. The unknown is when and where. Pre-draft and post-draft, the Ertz story has continued. If the Eagles can’t find a willing partner, he will be released. He is much more interesting to discuss. There are at least a dozen teams that would be better with Ertz. Over the last five years, he trails only Travis Kelce for most fantasy points at the position and will be a borderline fantasy starter, depending on his destination.
For me, I want to tie the production to the quarterback so I am going to go with Gerald Everett in Seattle with Russell Wilson. Everett has shown in his career he is not much of a blocker when it comes to the tight end position so for the Seahawks to bring him in I feel like he will be the third option in the passing game behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Will Dissly certainly can be a concern but to no degree that Everett has already endured with playing beside Tyler Higbee. This is Everett's opportunity to show that he is worthy of a stand-alone TE1 on a team and with Russell Wilson throwing him the ball he couldn't ask for a better situation to show off his receiving talents.
Most interesting is the name of the game here and that brings my attention to Dan Arnold who could see a boost in fantasy appeal in 2021. Carolina targeted him in free agency due to his ability and familiarity with Joe Brady's horizontal attacking offense. Arnold is a 6'6, 225-pound tight end, which is small (weight-wise) for a tight end, and big for a wide receiver. My gut says we'll see him mostly on passing situations as the lone tight end in the Panthers' 11-personnel offense. Arnold is coming off his best season to date with 31 receptions, 438 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns. Only New England (15) had fewer receptions to tight ends than Carolina (27) last year, so that is a concern. All told, all Panthers tight ends had a mere 12 first downs in 2021. Perhaps with a more athletic receiving tight end threat, Joe Brady will utilize the position more, especially in the red zone where Carolina finished 28th in red zone touchdown percentage (51%). Adding the 6'6 Arnold will help improve those numbers.
Great stuff here from my colleagues
I want to piggyback on Jasons' point on Belichick prioritizing Smith over Henry. Smith is also a much more dynamic athlete and better suited to be used detached from the formation, while Henry makes more sense inline. Henry could score more touchdowns, but Smith is the Patriots' tight end to target if you want to take one, and my answer to the titular question.
Second, Phil pointing out that Everett becomes more interesting because he is reunited with his passing game coordinator from the Rams, Shane Waldron, who is now the offensive coordinator for the Seahawks. I'll be interested to see if they are running more three-wide with second-round pick D'Wayne Eskridge added to the mix or more two-tight-end with Will Dissly.
The Patriots' additions of course boast the most upside, but it could just be theoretical. That's likely still a run-driven offense, and it'll be tough to project Henry/Smith's usage from week to week. And unfortunately, they'll both draw Belichick-boosted prices in drafts.
Everett, on the other hand, will come free in just about every draft. And Everett comes fresh off four frustrating semi-seasons with the Rams, in which he often hinted at big production just below the surface. He was a metric superstar for much of his time in Los Angeles, and it's intriguing to project him into a starter's role with Russell Wilson. Tight ends have commanded around 20% of Seattle targets over the past 2 years, so there's probably a dirt-cheap 40-catch season up for grabs should one of Everett, Will Dissly, or Colby Parkinson claim the lead role.
For the most interesting tight end to change teams, I'll choose Jared Cook. Cook had a career resurgence in New Orleans before a fall off in 2020. The fall-off was some performance regression, but more a reduction in usage, as he had more competition for routes than in prior years and had a reduction in quarterback play. Cook signed with the Chargers in 2021 and will have a clear opportunity to lead the production in the Chargers tight end depth chart. Justin Herbert has an opportunity to ascend in year two, and outside of Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler, there is plenty of opportunity for targets in the offense.
I really like the comments about Gerald Everett, as he is essentially Jonnu Smith through four years of his career in both raw stats and efficiency metrics and a fraction of the cost. I also like Dan Arnold because he has a wide-open opportunity in Carolina.
Everyone has made excellent points. I feel there are multiple correct choices for this category. I agree with Anthony about the Smith/Henry duo, especially Smith. I’m curious to see what kind of creative packages the Pats can come up with for Smith. We saw how electric he could be out of the backfield and tight end screens. McDaniels is going to have fun scheming up plays for Smith and Henry.