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Early 2020 Breakout Candidates - Tight End    

Tight end may be the hardest position to draft in fantasy football if you have multiple spots at that position in your league.

Because of how limited the explosive fantasy options are for that position, you may be put in a tight spot if you are in a larger league.

Luckily, there may be some surprising tight ends who can break out in 2020. Let’s take a look at some undervalued tight ends to target in the latter portion of fantasy drafts.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee had four consecutive 100-yard receiving games at the end of the 2019 season, signaling there is a possibility he could become an elite fantasy TE in 2020. The 27-year-old had career-highs in targets (89), receptions (69), catch percentage (77.5%), and yards (734) during his fourth year. His catch percentage was the sixth-highest among receivers in 2019, per Next Gen Stats.

However, his clear rapport with Jared Goff may signal a more impressive upcoming campaign as the Rams look to get back into the playoffs. One major thing to note with the big-bodied TE is his yards per reception throughout his career, as he has had 11.8, 12.2, and 10.6 YPR in the past three seasons, respectively. He offers that big-play potential that many of us fantasy owners hope for.

Higbee’s average yards of separation was 3.7, third-highest among receivers in 2019, based on Next Gen Stats. He averaged 48.9 yards per game, and that number is poised to go up as the Western Kentucky product likely cemented the starting TE role on the team for 2020. After all, he chewed up 89 of the 156 targets among TEs on the team, roughly 57 percent. The only concern for Higbee is his low number of touchdowns in his career, which is seven total in four years. A sign of encouragement is the TE had roughly a 26-27 percent target share in the red zone along with 28 targets.

 

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

With QB Drew Lock being the top candidate to run the show on the Denver Broncos in 2020, the skill players may benefit from those few games spent together with the former Missouri QB in 2019. One of those beneficiaries may be now second-year TE Noah Fant. The Iowa product finished his rookie season with 562 yards (second-most on the team), 40 receptions, and three touchdowns.

With the growing pains hopefully behind him, Fant, like Drew Lock, has a chance to take a huge step forward in 2020. He chewed up 66/107 TE targets, good for nearly 62 percent. On top of that, he averaged 14.1 yards per reception and a staggering 8.5 yards after catch per reception, third-highest among receivers in 2019 per Next Gen Stats. The 22-year-old should retain a large role in his second season and enters 2020 as the unquestioned top TE on the team.

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki had the second-most receiving yards on the team in 2019 at 570, signaling that the 24-year-old is on the rise. The Penn State product made a huge leap in his second year, compiling 51 receptions, 11.2 yards per reception, and five touchdowns. In addition, he also attracted 89 of the 116 TE targets on the team in 2019, good for a staggering 77 percent. He nearly tripled his targets and doubled his receptions and yards from Season 1 into Season 2.

The TE also had 28.6 percent of targets inside the 10, which should bode well for his chances to provide TDs next season.  In 2020, in his third year, Gesicki has a chance to break out as a valuable piece on this team no matter who the QB is. There is a lot more room for success too and he can aim for a 1,000-yard season considering there are no threats to taking his TE1 role on the team.

 

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

With Delanie Walker oft-injured, TE Jonnu Smith stepped up in a big way for the Tennessee Titans during their 2019 run to the AFC Championship game. The 24-year-old had a career-high 35 receptions, 439 yards, and 44 targets, good for 41 percent of the TE target share on the team. The FIU product is poised to take on a bigger role with the team as Walker has been released.

Averaging 12.5 yards per reception in 2019, Smith showed he has the ability to be impactful on the field while also getting an average of 3.7 yards of separation (Next Gen Stats), tied for third-highest in 2019 with Tyler Higbee. He also had an incredible 8.4 yards after catch per reception and a 79.5 percent catch rate per Next Gen Stats, good for fourth and third among receivers, respectively. The Titans should be a surprise to nobody anymore and with their young core, they can be a playoff contender for the next several years.

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