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fantasy football
Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football TE Superlatives 2022

  • Zach Cohen
  • July 14, 2022
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We may be less than two months away from football season, but it’s never a bad time to start preparing to dominate your fantasy football league. That’s why TDN’s very own Jaime Eisner unveiled his fantasy football rankings for 12-team, half-PPR leagues. And there were some *interesting* decisions.

Unfortunately for Jaime—and fortunately for you—I’m here to discuss some eye-opening decisions Jaime made in his latest batch.

Before I attempt to tear down Jaime’s ego, his rankings and projections are some of the best in the business. He spends hours researching and developing in-depth projections, which you can check out below. So I won’t get too picky about minor differences in the rankings, though I certainly could make a case against something small like Pat Freiermuth over Zach Ertz.

Jaime’s full Fantasy Football TE rankings

Jaime’s full TE Stat Projections

And don’t miss my superlatives for the rest of Jaime’s rankings:

With that said, let’s see what else stood out from Jaime’s fantasy football tight end rankings for half-PPR leagues.

Most Overrated: Irv Smith Jr. (TE12)

Let’s start with a tight end who didn’t see the field last year, yet Jaime has him seven spots above his ADP (Average Draft Position). I can understand the hype around Smith since he’s entering his fourth season in the league, which is a common breakout point among younger tight ends. He also has virtually no competition at the position with Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin both out of the picture. 

While the tight end position in fantasy is generally shallow, it’s a big bet for Smith to finish as a TE1. Are we assuming he’s looked good enough during his first two seasons that he’ll make the jump? I find that hard to believe in a loaded Vikings offense—one that could look much different than Smith is used to. I mentioned what Minnesota’s new offense could look like in my wide receiver superlatives:

The Vikings hired Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach. While the Rams’ pass rate was only 1% higher than the Vikings’ pass rate last season, Los Angeles ran 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers) at a league-high 86% of the time, per Sharp Football Stats. Conversely, Minnesota ran 11 personnel at the fifth-lowest rate in the league.

Sure, Smith clearly has upside. Two years ago he posted three games of double-digit points. Do what you will with that fact, because I don’t see anything too special about it. Besides, there are plenty of other tight ends below Smith in Jaime’s rankings who have similar or greater upside than Smith, such as Dawson Knox, Albert Okwuegbunam, Noah Fant, and Cole Kmet. Smith is too risky as a TE1, especially with the talent surrounding him in Minnesota.

Most Underrated: Logan Thomas (TE26)

Remember Thomas? He was the overall TE9 in fantasy points per game in 2020. He was also well-fed; he saw a whopping 110 targets. The next most at the position on Washington went to Jeremy Sprinkle, who saw just three targets. Unfortunately for Thomas, he played only five full games in 2021 thanks to injuries. Yet, he was still TE11 in points per game. 

When healthy, Thomas retained his role as the top tight end in Washington‘s offense. He saw 25 targets across those five games, whereas all other tight ends saw three targets combined when Thomas was on the field. He could easily retain his role again this season. Yes, there are some obvious question marks. For starters, Thomas is 31 years old and coming off an injury-riddled season. The Commanders drafted wide receiver Jahan Dotson and they expect Curtis Samuel to be back healthy. However, Carson Wentz could be an upgrade from their teetering quarterback situation last season. I’m not saying Thomas is a must-have player, but he carries little risk at his current value. Jaime has him as a high-end TE3, which means he’s basically undrafted. 

Thomas should be drafted three to four spots earlier than Jaime indicates. Thomas is a middle TE2 in my book. As of now, I prefer Thomas to Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, and Hayden Hurst, to name a few. 

Deserves Applause: Mike Gesicki (TE18)

One of Jaime’s biggest early deviations from consensus was ranking Gesicki seven spots below his ADP. Guess what: I agree! Gesicki was TE11 last year, yet was just TE16 in fantasy points per game. I really can’t find a reason to expect more usage heading into year five. Looking at Mike McDaniel’s offense in San Francisco last season, it already appears like Gesicki could see less playing time.

  • Miami 11-personnel frequency: 28% (32nd)
  • Miami 12-personnel frequency: 62% (1st)
  • San Francisco 11-personnel frequency: 48% (27th)
  • San Francisco 12-personnel frequency: 10% (30th)

*11-personnel is a formation consisting of one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers. 12-personnel consists of one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers. 

Two stats to note: Green Bay ran 11-personnel at the second-highest rate (29% of the time). So we should definitely expect Miami to implement 12-personnel less. As for San Francisco, they implemented 21-personnel at a league-high rate of 34%. They had two running backs, one tight end, and two wide receivers on the field more than any team last season. This all means there’s a good chance Gesicki is on the field less and could see fewer targets. He’ll still be the Dolphins’ top tight end, though he’s essentially just a bigger slot receiver. With McDaniel coming to South Florida, some have gone so far as to hype Gesicki up as the next George Kittle. That’s a possibility, yet it’s a very slim one.

Of course, the biggest reason to suggest Gesicki doesn’t reach expectations is some guy named Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins’ addition of Cedrick Wilson Jr. doesn’t help Gesicki, either. Hill, Wilson, and Jaylen Waddle don’t have the height Gesicki does, but they can play in the slot very well. Gesicki thrived there. In fact, no tight end played more snaps from the slot than Gesicki, per 

Suddenly, there are too many mouths to feed in Miami. I can’t see Gesicki seeing the second-most targets on the team for the third year in a row. Even if Gesicki’s red-zone usage increases, his target shares should dip, thus making him a riskier weekly starter than he was in 2021. You should draft other tight ends with less competition who still have upside in the red zone, like Knox or Hunter Henry.

Best Late-Round Value: Cameron Brate (TE25)

Rob Gronkowski‘s official retirement sent minor shockwaves throughout fantasy football. It understandably impacted multiple players, including Brate. Yet his ADP remains pretty darn low. Jaime actually ranked Brate one spot below the consensus ranking. I like it. I dove deeper into Brate’s 2022 fantasy outlook a few weeks ago when Gronk called it quits.

With Gronkowski out of the way, Brate is the best bet to start at tight end. The Bucs ran 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) 22% of the time, which was tied for the 14th-highest rate in football per Sharp Football. Tampa Bay also targeted their tight ends 23.5% of the time, which was the ninth-highest rate per FantasyPros. So whoever steps into Gronkowski’s role could get a massive workload in the passing game. Here’s the catch: Brate obviously isn’t a Gronkowski clone. While Brate was top-ten in red-zone targets among tight ends last season, we shouldn’t expect Brate to instantly fill in Gronkowski’s shoes.

That last part is crucial because although there’s a way for Brate to explode past his ADP, we simply don’t know if he’s good enough to do it. While Brate should see increased red-zone usage, we can’t even assume he’s the main pass-catching tight end. After all, the Buccaneers drafted Cade Otton in Round 4. Still, no tight ends going this late on draft boards match Brate’s potential role. He’s a solid TE2, especially when paired with Tom Brady.

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Zach Cohen