2020 has certainly been an interesting year, to say the least. Amid the turmoil in the sports world and outside of it, we still have our precious fantasy football (fingers crossed). We are amping up our research, mock drafting, and uncovering some hidden gems that we can target in drafts as the season approaches. There is a fun, albeit small, silver lining becoming evident in fantasy football.
The tight end position is not a complete dumpster fire this year.
As I said, it’s a small thing, but one that is pretty exciting in terms of fantasy. Amid the popular names like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews, there are some diamonds in the rough that either aren’t being talked about or are completely dismissed. In this article, I will discuss three tight ends to remember for the 2020 fantasy football season that you can target late in drafts and who have some incredible upside this year.
I would like to be clear that these tight ends are players you can get late in drafts or even off the waiver wire. They are not guaranteed to explode this season but will have the opportunity to see targets. All three of these tight ends are hard targets for me late in my drafts. If they don’t hit, you have not wasted high draft capital to acquire them. But, if they do hit, you could have a potential TE1 or high TE2 for dirt cheap.
Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
I’ll start off with the low-hanging fruit in Indianapolis. Jack Doyle is one of those names we recognize but he doesn’t exactly give us the warm and fuzzies in fantasy football. He has been with the Colts since the beginning of his career in 2013, playing at least 15 games each season save 2018 due to injury when he only played six games. 2017 was his best year with QB Jacoby Brisset when he saw 108 targets, 80 receptions, 690 yards, and four touchdowns. The targets were impressive but the touchdowns were disappointing. In 2019, Doyle played a full season, a majority of that with fellow TE Eric Ebron. He saw his third-best year with 72 targets, 43 receptions, 448 yards, and four touchdowns, again with QB Brisset.
2020 is a new year for Doyle and the Colts as a team. Veteran QB Philip Rivers is taking over under center after departing from the Los Angeles Chargers after a disappointing 2019 season. Despite Rivers’ struggles with the Chargers, there is one thing he has that Brisset does not. Passing Volume. Since 2008, Rivers has attempted no fewer than 478 passes with 312 completions in a year. Brisset’s best year was 2017 where he had 469 attempts for 276 completions.
Doyle has the opportunity to become a primary tight end target for Rivers with Ebron off to the Steelers. Sure, guys like Trey Burton and Mo Alie-Cox are there as competition, but they do not have the experience or that stats that Doyle has. There are also questions with the Colts’ other offensive weapons. T.Y. Hilton has not played a full 16 games since 2017 and sophomore WR Parris Campbell only played seven games last year. WR Zach Pascal saw 72 targets, 41 receptions, 607 yards, and five touchdowns in 2019 and will be in steep competition with Hilton, Campbell, and rookie Michael Pittman, Jr.
The Colts also have 118 vacated targets to spread around the field. I would make the argument that this number is on the conservative side considering Rivers throws the ball more than Brisset, but we’ll stick to this number for the sake of argument. Out of those 118 targets, Ebron alone vacates 52 of them. With no other stiff competition in the TE room, Doyle could be the primary beneficiary of those targets, especially in the red zone where Ebron exploded in 2018.
ADP: 14.01 or undrafted
Chris Herndon – New York Jets
Remember him? I certainly do. Last year I wrote Three Tight Ends to Remember in 2019 and Herndon was firmly entrenched on my list as well as my draft boards. Unfortunately, he was later suspended for four weeks only to rejoin the team and hurt himself. Herndon had only one reception for seven yards in 2019. It wasn’t the year we had hoped for.
Actually, last year wasn’t the year anyone hoped for when it came to the Jets. QB Sam Darnold came down with mono and looked sluggish when he finally returned to the field. RB Le’Veon Bell disappointed everyone who drafted him, finishing as the RB16 in PPR behind a terrible offensive line with zero help in the offense. The Jets were either last, second to last, or in the bottom 25 in almost every stat on offense and defense with head coach Adam Gase.
So, why should you bother taking a look at Chris Herndon?
Let me start by adding a little context. When college players transition to the NFL, it is incredibly difficult to make a fantasy impact right away. This is especially true when it comes to the tight end position. However, Herndon dropped kicked that line of thinking straight out of the stadium. In his rookie year in 2017, he played 16 games and started in 12 of them with fellow rookie Sam Darnold. Their chemistry was immediate. Herndon saw 56 targets, 39 receptions for 502 yards, and four TDs. Again, this was his rookie year with a rookie quarterback. He also averaged 12.9 yards per reception, had 25 1st downs, a 69.6% catch rate, and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
This year, the Jets have the third most vacated targets in the NFL with 183 targets up for grabs. One of those missing pieces contributing to this number is downfield-threat Robby Anderson who saw 96 targets in 2019. Herndon has that “big play” ability to take over some of those deep targets. TE Ryan Griffin, who did just sign a $9.6 million 3-year extension, is coming off of ankle surgery. They wouldn’t have signed an extension like that if they weren’t going to get him on the field, but he has a different kind of skill set than Herndon. It is very likely we could see a Rams’-Esque two tight end split in the Jets’ future. Even if we don’t, Herndon has better ball skills to see the field as a receiver more often.
For more information on the Jets’ vacated targets and the players’ floor and ceiling for 2020, check out Fantasy Football Target Practice: The 2020 New York Jets.
Blake Jarwin – Dallas Cowboys
If you have been listening to the podcast, then you should be familiar with the name Blake Jarwin. If you haven’t been listening, first of all, you should be, click HERE. Second, Jarwin is the de facto heir TE for the Dallas Cowboys. While it’s not the flashiest name, there are some significant stats I would like to point out in Jarwin’s favor.
In 2019 after coming out of retirement, TE Jason Witten managed to post 63 receptions on 83 targets for 529 yards and four touchdowns. During that time, Jarwin also added to the Cowboys offense with 31 receptions on 41 targets for 365 yards and three touchdowns. Now that Witten is gone once again, Jarwin is poised to usurp those targets including Witten’s red zone looks. Behind Jarwin are Dalton Schultz, Blake Bell, and Cole Hikutini who have not seen more than 25 targets in a single season.
On top of the opportunity, Jarwin is on an excellent offense with the Cowboys. They rank 1st in total yards, 2nd in passing yards, and 1st in yards per drive. The Cowboys are in the top-10 across nearly every stat line on offense in 2019.
The Cowboys gave Jarwin a $22 million, four-year extension, demonstrating that they clearly believe in his talent at the position. With the addition of Mike McCarthy as the new head coach, we could be seeing QB Dak Prescott throwing the ball more in 2020, increasing the pass catchers’ volume at each position.
In the 2020 Ultimate Draft Kit, you can find tools such as the Target Share report. This breaks down the percentage of targets thrown to the WRs, RBs, and TEs. The Cowboys threw 22% of their passes to the tight end position in 2019. That translates to roughly 131 targets. To give you some context, the Chargers threw to the tight end 17% and the Falcons 19%.
ADP: 14.04 or Undrafted
Remember, these tight ends are going late in drafts and sometimes not getting drafted at all. They have the talent and the upside to make an excellent late pick in your drafts, but they also represent valuable streamers at the position. Keep these tight ends in mind as you draft. If they don’t hit, you haven’t wasted high capital, but you could be sitting on a fantasy gold mine.
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