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Boom or Bust Tight End Predictions: Gronk, Fant, and Herndon


For the last few seasons, tight end position was essentially a barren wasteland - there were a couple of elite options in the top tier, but beyond that was slim pickings for fantasy players. This is no longer the case, as tight end is as deep as it's ever been. There are elite options at the top, mixed with ascending players in the middle, followed by breakout candidates in the later rounds.

In this year's draft, my preferred strategy is to wait on tight end if I miss out on Travis Kelce or George Kittle, simply because there is so much depth at the position and I'd rather use those earlier picks on wide receivers and running backs. That's not to say that I don't like players like Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller, or Evan Engram, I'm just really bullish on the slew of young and athletic tight ends available towards the end of your draft.

In this article, I'll take a look at two tight ends that I expect to boom and deliver premium value on their ADPs, while also picking one to bust who you should avoid at all costs, using FantasyPros ADP in PPR formats. Let's take dig deeper into Rob Gronkowski, Noah Fant, and Chris Herndon to find out which of these players is a boom and which is a bust.

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Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ADP: TE9, 78th Overall

The news of Gronk's return to re-unite with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay sent shockwaves across the football world. After all, Gronk is widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest tight end in NFL history. He's coming off a full year away from football and entering his age-31 season only two years removed from a season where he put up 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games. Gronk also joins a star-studded receiving core that includes Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, so this should be a prolific offense with several opportunities for touchdowns to go around.

The problem is that Gronk has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, especially nagging back issues that don't simply go away from a year away from football. He has only played in 35-of-48 games in his last three seasons, so it's hard to project a full season for Gronk in his return from retirement. We also need to consider the Buccaneers' depth at tight end - O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are good players who will likely eat into Gronk's snap and target share. As a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the Bucs would be wise to limit Gronk's snaps to keep him fresh for the stretch run. It's also important to note the devalued role of the tight end in Bruce Arians' offense - just look at how it suppressed Howard's production last season.

It just doesn't feel wise to invest in Gronk as a top-10 tight end in his first season coming out of retirement, playing for a team that is loaded at tight end, especially in a year with so many options at the position. For that reason, I'm OUT.

Verdict: BUST

 

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

ADP: TE13, 108th Overall

Fant has an athletic profile that makes your jaw drop, ranking in the 97th-percentile or higher in speed, burst, agility, and catch radius scores on PlayerProfiler. He also has a 94th-percentile SPARQ score, 19.8 breakout age (84th-percentile), and 30.4% college dominator rating (88th-percentile). This is the kind of profile that gives Fant the upside to ascend to the elite tier of tight ends. As a rookie, he flashed this athleticism with two 100-yard games on four or fewer receptions, including a 75-yard touchdown. Fant also posted 8.52 yards per target, which ranks 8th among rookie tight ends (with at least 50 targets) since the merger, behind notable names like Mark Andrews and Rob Gronkowski. We have the makings of a special player here.

The Broncos added rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler at wide receiver, a duo that could combine with Courtland Sutton to take away targets from Fant, which is concerning since the Broncos have Drew Lock at quarterback and only averaged 31.5 pass attempts per game in 2019, ranking 27th in the NFL. The good news is that the team has a new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur, whose offenses ranked in the top-10 in pass attempts in five of his last seven seasons as the play-caller for the Giants, Vikings, and Eagles. With the added weapons and new play-caller, we can safely project an increase in pass attempts for the Broncos. Jeudy and Hamler have upside, but they're rookies, and Fant has a good chance of ranking top-two on the team in target share.

Fant is quite possibly the most athletic tight end in the NFL and you're able to draft him outside of the top-12 right now. He has everything you want in a breakout candidate, making him my favorite tight end to target this season.

Verdict: BOOM

 

Chris Herndon, New York Jets

ADP: TE20, 163rd Overall

Herndon had an impressive rookie season back in 2018, putting up 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns. The list of tight ends with 500+ yards as rookies includes several great players such as Rob Gronkowski, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle. Herndon also posted 8.96 yards per target, ranking 5th among rookie tight ends (with at least 50 targets) since the merger. He also plays for a Jets team with no established alpha-WR1 - Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman are good players, but they won't be force-fed targets as the clear number one in the pecking order. This means that Herndon has a chance to rack up targets in this offense. The Jets also traded safety Jamal Adams and C.J. Mosley opted out, so this is a mediocre defense which will lead to more passing volume and opportunities for Herndon.

The risk here is that Herndon is less proven than other tight ends ranked above him, especially since his sophomore season was washed out due to injuries. He also does not have the same type of impressive athletic traits that players like Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, and Jonnu Smith. But this is a player with a clear path to targets who has already established a strong rapport with quarterback Sam Darnold. We also can project Darnold to improve in his third season as a starter - let's not forget that he's still only 23 years old - so this bodes well for Herndon.

Exploit the buying opportunity caused by a lost sophomore season. Herndon is a terrific target if you decide to wait deep in your draft to address the tight end position. He has a real shot at cracking the top-12.

Verdict: BOOM



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Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More