Tight ends are a Fantasy Football goldmine, and a Fantasy Football crapshoot. Everyone wants to have a premium TE, yet nobody enjoys paying for them. With more leagues switching to TE premium and not a ton of high scoring, highly consistent options at a very complicated position, Fantasy owners are stuck grabbing a TE earlier than they’d have liked to or watching as someone with next year’s breakout TE run up the points on you because you started Ryan Griffin (like the 2018 version of George Kittle/2019 version of Mark Andrews obliterated me). Although TE may be the most stressful Fantasy position, it is still extremely valuable.
This underappreciated role may have a brighter future than ever with the amount of high level athletes, great route runners and quality blockers playing at this point in time. Yet, even after reading this, I’m sure you are still dreading whatever TE situation you may end up in. That’s why I made things just a tad bit easier for you. I examined seven tight ends, six of which you will read about today, who may just be next year’s Top 5 breakout TE. This is all based off of physical measurements, advanced physical stats and statistical comparison to the Top 5 in a way I am willing to bet you haven’t read before, and in a way that will show you how close these guys actually are to being among the George Kittle’s, Travis Kelce’s, and Mark Andrews’ of the world.. Intrigued? Good! Just sit back and enjoy as I take you on a trip down TE lane.
This is going to get complex, stick with me. I started by taking the Top 5 TE’s of last season (Kittle, Kelce, Andrews, Waller, Ertz) and pulling physical stats for them. The reason for this was that I didn’t only want to try and predict who breaks out, I wanted to see which of these guys has the ideal NFL body to consistently be a Top 5 guy. The stats you are going to be seeing are first his measurables with Height & Weight, then moving on to 40 yard-dash time, speed score, burst score (stop/start acceleration), agility score and catch radius. I will list the results below and use them to determine the average of each stat within the Top 5 TE’s of 2019, therefore building a great physical representation of what guys stack up with the elite of the elite.
40 = 40 yd-dash SS = Speed Score BS = Burst Score AS = Agility Score CR = Catch Radius
TE1: Travis Kelce – 6’5. 260lbs, 4.66 40, 111.1 SS, 123.3 BS, 11.51 AS, 10.16 CR
TE2: Mark Andrews – 6’5, 256 lbs, 4.67 40, 108.5 SS, 110.8 BS, 11.72 AS, 9.97 CR
TE3: George Kittle – 6’4, 247 lbs, 4.52 40, 117.7 SS, 127.3 BS, 10.83 AS, 10.37 CR
TE4: Zach Ertz – 6’5, 249 lbs, 4.76 40, 97.8 SS, 119.1 BS, 11.55 AS, 10.06 CR
TE5: Darren Waller – 6’6, 255 lbs, 4.46 40, 131.6 SS, 127.3 BS, 11.32 AS, 10.39 CR
After determining the individual average for each of these stats, we’ve reached a very comfortable conclusion for the physical measurements of your ideal TE for next Fantasy Football season (and beyond) according to the 2019 Top 5;
Weight: Around 250lb
40 yd-dash: 4.61-4.65
Speed Score: 113.3
Burst Score: 121.5
Agility Score: 11.39
Catch Radius: 10.19
The last thing we have to do now is take the individual season each Top 5 TE had before his Fantasy breakout, and average those numbers out as well. For this instance, Travis Kelce and Darren Waller will be omitted due to breaking out the first chance at significant playing time.
Mark Andrews: 50 Targets, 34 Receptions, 552 Yards, 3 TD
George Kittle: 63 Targets, 43 Receptions, 515 Yards, 2 TD
Zach Ertz: 57 Targets, 36 Receptions, 469 Yards, 4 TD
Ideal: 50-65 Targets, 30-45 Receptions, 450-550 Yards, 2-4 TD
And there we have it, we’ve got the criteria we need for our Ideal breakout TE of 2020! With these numbers, we should be able to see who stacks up against the top Fantasy TE’s both physically, and statistically the year before their breakout!
Hunter Henry – LAC
25 yrs old, 6’5, 250 lbs, 4.72 40, 101.5 SS, 111.6 BS, 11.57 AS, 9.97 CR
76 Targets, 55 Receptions, 652 Yards, 5 TD
Mike Gesicki – MIA
24 yrs old, 6’6, 247 lbs, 4.54 40, 118.7 SS, 137.1 BS, 10.86 AS, 10.67 CR
89 Targets, 51 Receptions, 570 Yards, 5 TD
Noah Fant – DEN
22 yrs old, 6’4, 249 lbs, 4.5 40, 120.8 SS, 132.6 BS, 11.03 AS, 10.47 CR
66 Targets, 40 Receptions, 562 Yards, 3 TD
Dallas Goedert – PHI
25 yrs old, 6’5, 256 lbs, 4.67 40, N/A SS, 121.8 BS, 11.33 AS, N/A CR
87 Targets, 58 Receptions, 607 Yards, 5 TD
Blake Jarwin – DAL
25 yrs old, 6’5, 246 lbs, 4.74 40, 98.2 SS, 120.9 BS, 11.71 AS, 10.09 CR
41 Targets, 31 Receptions, 365 Yards, 3 TD
Jonnu Smith – TEN
24 yrs old, 6’3, 248 lbs, 4.62 40, 106.9 SS, 130.0 BS, 11.61 AS, 10.19 CR
44 Targets, 35 Receptions, 439 Yards, 3 TD
Merging the Numbers
Next up in our process, we are going to take all eleven (Top 5 of ‘19, 6 prospects for ‘20), and rank each stat individually. Upon completion of this, the 6th ranking you will see is “Combined TE Rankings”, that number is determined by adding the placement of all 5 stats, and dividing by 5, therefore giving an average placement per stat which we will use to separate the contenders from the pretenders (prospects in bold). After seeing these rankings, we will look at the 2020 Breakout TE’s by numeric likelihood, public perception, and similar season trajectory.
Top 3 = Green, 4-8 = Yellow, 9-11 = Orange
Those numbers should give you a good example of who to actually expect a breakout from, and the pretenders on the back half (Goedert is a special case). I will touch on all six of these individually in the next section, after we see the 2020 Breakout Rankings!
|Breakout by Season Trajectory||Breakout by Public Perception||Breakout by Numeric Likelihood.|
|1. Noah Fant||1. Hunter Henry||1. Noah Fant|
|2. Jonnu Smith||2. Mike Gesicki||2. Mike Gesicki|
|3. Hunter Henry||3. Dallas Goedert||3. Jonnu Smith|
|4. Mike Gesicki||4. Noah Fant||4. Blake Jarwin|
|5. Dallas Goedert||5. Jonnu Smith||5. Hunter Henry|
|6. Blake Jarwin||6. Blake Jarwin||6. Dallas Goedert|
True Contenders and Pretenders
Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. The one thing you will see each and every time (minus one) you look at any of these stats, is that he is top 2 among prospects or top 3 among the entire group of 11. Fant’s numbers are eerily similar to the rookie year of Kittle, which was the year before he broke out for 1300 yards and won over the hearts of Fantasy owners all over. He’s as fast as a running back, and his speed score is above that of highly touted rookie RB Jonathan Taylor. His burst score rivals that of Saquon Barkley. Although agility score is low, it is above Kittle’s, the guy who his numbers almost mirror when looking at rookie seasons. His catch radius is higher than Michael Thomas’, and people are cooling off when it comes to Fant due to the options in Denver. If anything, I think the options make it easier for Fant to be utilized correctly in open space, and over the middle of the field. His ADP is dropping, but his stock, in my eyes, is rising. His target number of 66 was more promising than that of Gesicki and Goedert to me (both 80+ targets), because it is much easier to get 20+ target increases from 60-80 range than it is from 80-100 range. You could easily see him go from 66 targets to 86 targets, Gesicki will not go from 89 to 109. Don’t miss out on Fant, he is my #1 True Contender to breakout next season.
There’s a raging similarity when it comes to Fant and Gesicki, and it’s the physical numbers. Mike was in the green (Top 3) in 3 of 5 statistics, and also just behind Fant and Goedert in the combined rankings. In my eyes, this mirrors what I expect to happen. I think Gesicki has an incredible shot to finish ranked highly among TE’s, but the fact that he got 89 targets last season makes me wonder how many more targets he will get. With a QB situation where we don’t know who’s starting and how many games they’ll be starting, I’d prefer to stay away from Gesicki if I could have Fant in the same range, but if I get Gesicki in the same range when Fant is gone I wouldn’t be upset at all.
Jonnu finished in the top 5 in all categories save for one, and has a season trajectory that lines up very well when compared to previous TE breakouts. I see him as one of the most stable prospects in terms of next year, but his upside isn’t the same of a Fant or Gesicki. With all reports saying Tennessee is going to lessen the workload on Derrick Henry, they’ve got to be looking to let Tannehill throw the ball more. AJ Brown and Jonnu Smith will eat through the air this season, and if Jonnu Smith can secure a high TD rate this season, he’d go from lowest upside of the three to possibly a better long term option than Gesicki, especially at the ADP he’s going now. Fant and Gesicki are both going starting in the 12th round, and Jonnu doesn’t start going until the late 14th. Jonnu can and will do it all for Fantasy owners who trust the Tennessee offense enough to give him a shot. Especially in dynasty/keeper, grab!
Hunter Henry is being drafted before all of the other options, and I’m here to tell you I think he has the most red flags of the bunch. He ties Blake Jarwin for bottom two statistic ratings among the prospects with three out of the five initial stats ranking him in the bottom two. The difference here is that Henry is the biggest injury scare of the entire group, and has had the most opportunities. There is no reason he should be in the bottom two of nearly everything we are looking at with an ADP starting in the late 7th round. The next closest on this list starts in the 12th.
I’m not saying not to grab Jarwin with his late ADP, but I am saying don’t expect him to breakout and be a Top 5 TE next season. He still has a path to being a TE1 (top 12), but the numbers don’t scream for an explosive season. Jarwin is someone I’m investing in late because if his targets increase and he can get Cowboys TE targets even somewhat similar to those of Witten’s, he could burst. I just don’t believe he will see as many looks. Jarwin will be a great redzone target for the Cowboys, and could rack up a lot of points in the endzone, but if you want to BOOM on a TE, it won’t be Jarwin.
Dallas Goedert is a stud, but his situation doesn’t allow him to show that he truly is another Zach Ertz. Goedert is a great piece to your team and should be a virtual lock to finish as a TE1 (top 12) but his increase in production should be much more gradual, rather than a big boom and an immediate seat among the best of the best. By the end of his career, Goedert is going to have been a player very similar in fantasy production to Zach Ertz, the ascension will just be much more gradual than the rest. Year after year, Goedert will eat more and more of Ertz’ targets, he is a stud.
I hope this article helped expanding your knowledge of the TE position and has painted a better visual for you when trying to determine breakout TE’s of the future. I will be looking for every share of Fant, Gesicki and Jonnu that I can get, with a good hint of Goedert scattered around. The potential for an elite TE in the later rounds this year and for the future in dynasty is incredible. There are multiple options that will be going below TE10 and may just be league winners. I’m willing to bet that Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, and Jonnu Smith could be those guys. I want to give a huge shoutout to the guys here at The TFL Podcast for bringing me in and giving me a place to share my research and writing (you can see more of their content here). I look forward to being a part of the crew and am beyond excited to bring in the best content that I can. You can catch me on Twitter @JustKeepScoutin, I’d love to be able to interact with as many of you as possible!