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Finding Tight End Breakouts for Fantasy Football – Cracking the Code for Week 5

dawson knox fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

Holy T.J. Hockenson! With Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark, and D'Andre Swift all out of the lineup, Hockenson was given 12 targets from quarterback, Jared Goff. He turned those targets into 8 receptions, 179 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Opportunity and volume continue to be king for this position. It's not something most tight ends are given, but in Week 4 Hockenson commanded a 34.2% target share and that's the first step for a monster performance.

As we look forward, we're constantly looking for tight ends who are running lots of routes, primarily for the slot or outside, much like a receiver would. Snaps spent pass-blocking are snaps they can't earn a fantasy point. We're looking for tight ends who get regular targets, who earn targets inside the red zone, and who have an average depth of target that presents upside.

Here, we'll be doing a weekly look at low-level starting and waiver wire tight ends so that you can make educated decisions for the week ahead. You can find last week's article, here, so you can get a look at what this article is all about and so you can see where some of these players were at last week because some of their roles change regularly.

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Elite Status Tight Ends

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens 

 

Weekly Tight End Starters

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

 

It's Not Perfect, But What Choice Do You Have?

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

 

Low-Level Starters and Tight Ends Waiver Wire

Tyler Conklin, New York Jets

To almost no one's surprise, the passing volume for the Jets in Zach Wilson's debut dropped significantly. After averaging 52 attempts in the first three games with Joe Flacco behind center, the Jets attempted just 36 passes in Week 4. This was always the concern when looking at Conklin's long-term value. The quarterback change was always going to bring changes to the general state of the offense. The decreased passing volume was just one of the concerns for Conklin. The other was where Wilson's attention would fall.

We do need to be careful with a sample size of one, but Conklin fell from second on the target hierarchy – which is where he ranked on the team in Weeks 1–3 – all the way down to fourth. His target share fell from 15.8% to 14%, which doesn't sound like a big decrease, but when you combine the 1.8% decrease with the significant decrease in overall volume, and you got a problem on your hands.

Luckily, Conklin was pretty efficient with his 5 targets, turning them into 3 receptions and 52 yards. The hope is that the decreased volume could be offset by more downfield targets. Fantasy managers saw that in Week 4. His average depth of target in Weeks 1–3 was a lowly 1.7 yards, but that increased to 6.7 yards with Wilson. His yard per reception average more than doubled, going from 7.78 yards all the way up to 17.33.

In his first three games, Conklin scored 7 or more half-PPR points each week, and although he crossed that threshold in Week 4 again, that target distribution and the decrease in passing volume should make fantasy managers who picked him up early nervous. On the plus side, he's still the undisputed receiving tight end for the Jets, running a route on more than 75% of the team's dropbacks. However, if Conklin is going to continue being the third, fourth, or even fifth on Wilson's target hierarchy, the decreased passing volume will render him nothing more than a TD-dependent TE2.

Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

Evan Engram is getting plenty of opportunities in Jacksonville. The problem is, he's not doing anything with it. Through four weeks of the season, his route percentage per dropback is just under 80%. That kind of opportunity would ideally lend itself to more production. Fantasy managers fell in love with his potential this offseason due to Doug Pederson's tight end whispering ways and the lack of defined pass-catchers in Jacksonville, but it just hasn't resulted in anything to get excited about.

In Week 2, Engram 26.7% target share, but in the three other weeks, he has not had earned a target share higher than 13% in any other of their three contests. What's worse, his target shares in Weeks 3 and 4 were the lowest he's produced all year and they've gone the wrong way. In Week 3, he finished with just a 10.3% target share and 4.3% in Week 4.

He has yet to finish with more than 50 receiving yards and has not yet found the end zone. To be fair, their Week 4 contest was played in the remnants of Hurricane Ian, which certainly played a role in the decreased passing efficiency for the Jaguars. Still, there's just very little to get excited about here with Engram. His target shares have been depressing and his utilization lacks any kind of upside. He has just 86 air yards, exhibiting just how little upside the targets he is getting actually have.

Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks

Will Dissly is currently the TE10 in half-PPR scoring through four weeks, but that's largely on the back of his three touchdowns, which account for roughly 50% of his total. He has three touchdowns out of his 12 targets, which amounts to a TD rate of 25%. There's no way that continues or even remotely stays the same. If you're looking at Dissly, you're making a bet that yesterday's points will somehow lead to future points. That's not how this works.

Through four weeks, there's been just one week where Dissly has run more routes or had a higher target share than fellow tight end teammate, Noah Fant. That is not the kind of utilization fantasy managers should be chasing. He averages just 15 air yards per game and despite having scored three touchdowns on the young season, he has just three red zone targets, which doesn't indicate fantasy managers should be expecting very many TDs in the future. In fact, Dissly has 50% of Geno Smith's TDs on the season. If you're desperate at TE and are constantly looking to stream the position, Dissly is not someone you should have your eyes on. You should rather take a gamble on Engram who, at the very least, is running more routes each week.

Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts

Should fantasy managers believe in Mo Alie-Cox after his huge Week 4 performance? He finished with 6 targets, 6 receptions, 85 yards, and 2 touchdowns. That weekly stat line accounts for just under 50% of his target total on the year, 60% of his total receptions, 66% of his yards, and 100% of his touchdowns. Altogether, he scored 78.5% of his half-PPR fantasy points in Week 4. Certainly sounds like a mirage, right? Maybe not.

While fantasy managers shouldn't get used to the kind of fantasy performance he put together in Week 4, it did correlate with his best utilization of the season. The Colts' offense has yet to score 20 points in a single contest, so the upside here is quite lacking. We also know Michael Pittman is going to continue operating as the No. 1 option, which will limit Alie-Cox's upside.

While his increased route participation looks good on paper, it still has a long way to go before he becomes someone fantasy managers can even consider using as a streamer.

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

Most fantasy managers identified Dawson Knox as the new Robert Tonyan. That is to say, he had an insanely high TD rate that would never be able to be replicated. So far in 2022, that's been true. Despite the Bills being one of the most pass-heavy offenses in 2021, Knox failed to clear 75 targets. Through four weeks of the season, it's been more of the same.

He has yet to record a target share of 18% or higher and he has two contests with a target share that didn't reach 8%. That's just one part of the problem. Knox has yet to have a single week with a route percentage rate higher than 70% this season, which is the floor for fantasy-relevant tight ends.



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