This is an article from our Breakout Players to Watch series.
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As a high-stakes fantasy player, I have to admit I do not address the tight end position early in drafts unless a player like Travis Kelce falls to the fourth or fifth round (and that is not likely to happen). Fantasy owners who address the position early will be looking to grab stars like Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz, or perhaps even Mark Andrews early in drafts in 2020.
Often, the best players at the position fail to live up to high draft capital needed to secure them in drafts. Let’s take a quick deeper dive.
Last season, San Francisco’s George Kittle (TE2), who put up over 220 PPR fantasy points, would have finished as just WR18 and out of the Top-12 among all running backs. Philadelphia Eagles Zach Ertz (TE3) would have finished outside the top-20 in wide receiver rankings in PPR formats and beyond the top-15 running backs. Those who stepped out early and drafted New York Giants’ Evan Engram (TE18) or Tampa Bay’s O.J. Howard (TE29) among the top-10 at the position last summer, were burned when they failed to live up to expectations.
This leads us to how successful fantasy owners should approach filling the position on draft day as we often do over at FullTime Fantasy. The value falls upon waiting until later rounds and grabbing players who did not have a star season previously but are on the verge of breakout success for the upcoming year. This breakout can be the result of scheme change, free agency, or injury.
For instance, last year, that philosophy led high-stakes owners to land Raiders emerging talent Darren Waller real late in drafts. Waller was one of the true breakout stars who finished the third overall tight end in PPR leagues and helped lead many teams in the Fantasy Football World Championships (FFWC) to glory. You can forget about grabbing Waller anywhere past the early to mid-rounds in 2020 as his price tag will be through the roof. At his current ADP, as a top-five player off the board at the tight end position, he is a player ripe for regression, and his price tag will likely make his value a complete pass for me this season.
Now we get to the fun part, just who will emerge as a breakout tight end in 2020? My model has three players flying below the radar who fantasy owners should target this season. You may be surprised at who my projections are high on, but I can tell you that I am not high on either Austin Hooper or Rob Gronkowski in 2020. Remember, fantasy leagues are won by owners who target and land players in rounds 10-16 who offer breakout potential.
Chris Herndon, New York Jets
The 2019 season was one to forget for Herndon as he was hit with a suspension and then was beset with injuries that saw play in just one game.
In 2018, the former Miami Hurricane standout showed a developing connection with quarterback Sam Darnold, grabbing 39 of 56 targets for 502 yards and four touchdowns.
As we know, COVID-19 is playing havoc with offseason work. That previous rapport could pay huge dividends for Herndon in 2020 as rookie Denzel Mims and free-agent acquisition Breshad Perriman will need time to get the timing down with Darnold.
Coming off the board in the range of TE20, fantasy owners could be looking at a true steal from a player who could easily crash the top-10 at the position.
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