Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Rookie Roulette - Which TE Should Go First in Rookie Drafts?


Noah Fant, tight end out of Iowa.

T.J. Hockenson, tight end out of Iowa.

Yes, one of these two former Hawkeyes should be the first tight end taken in rookie drafts this year. While there are some other interesting prospects at the position, your decision if you're in need of a tight end in a dynasty league and neither guy has gone off the board yet is between these two. Let's break down the battle between the two and determine which one should be taken first in a rookie draft.

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!

 

The Case For Noah Fant

Let's start with Noah Fant, who was taken by the Denver Broncos in the first round.

Fant ends up on a team that looks to be moving on from their other young(ish) tight end, former Michigan Wolverine Jake Butt, whose career has been marred by injuries up until now. Butt's ceiling at this point looks like it's being Fant's backup, so I wouldn't worry too much about how him being on this team could hurt Fant's fantasy value.

So, what can Fant add to this Broncos offense?

Well, for one, Fant's got the speed and leaping ability to be a huge mismatch anywhere on the field. Among tight ends, Fant boasts a 96th percentile 40-yard dash time and a 97th-percentile vertical jump. While he's just 6'4'', Fant's got a pretty good wingspan and makes up for some height disadvantages by being versatile enough to be moved all around the field.

Last year for Iowa, Fant caught 39 passes for 519 yards and seven touchdowns. If you take a look at his tape, you see that he's able to excel as a downfield threat while also being useful over the middle of the field in the short passing game. Being able to use him like a slot receiver at times and as a field-stretching threat at other times will help the Broncos diversify their offensive approach.

Of course, no discussion of Fant is complete without addressing the Broncos quarterback position. He'll start his career with Joe Flacco -- who's earned a reputation as being a good quarterback for tight ends -- under center, but the Broncos also drafted Drew Lock this year, so the expectation is that Lock will take over at some point.

Last year at Missouri, Lock's top two tight ends combined for 65 catches, with the two both being among the Tigers' top five reception leaders. That kind of usage is a good sign that Lock will look to get Fant involved once he takes over the starting role.

The only real quarterback-related worry? Will the Broncos end up throwing the ball enough for Fant's level of involvement to eventually allow him to hit his ceiling? The Broncos made changes to their coaching staff, so looking at last year's results aren't really going to help us here, but offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has a lot of experience in the NFL and college coaching quarterbacks, so it looks like the Broncos want to be a pass-heavy team. That's another good sign for Fant.

 

The Case For T.J. Hockenson

But what about Fant's college teammate, T.J. Hockenson, who went earlier in the draft, landing as a top-10 pick for the Detroit Lions?

Hockenson's numbers last year for the Hawkeyes bested Fant's numbers, as he finished with 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns. He also converted his only rushing attempt into a four-yard touchdown.

Hockenson is slower and a little worse of a jumper than his college teammate, but he makes up for that by being a better blocker and a more difficult guy to tackle. That blocking ability can make his transition to the NFL smoother than Fant's, and it makes it easier to keep him on the field in the red zone on rushing downs, where the Lions can use playaction and put Hockenson in a position to score.

Hockenson can do pretty all the things that Fant can before the catch, with Fant's main advantage being his speed in the open field once he has the ball. He's not as likely as Fant to be moved around the formation, but he can still be a versatile weapon in the short and long passing game while working as an in-line tight end.

The Lions should have a more settled quarterback situation with Matthew Stafford, though Stafford's 2018 season was bad enough that rumors emerged that the team might want to move on from him. I don't believe that, and the Hockenson pick suggests to me that the team wanted to get more weapons for their veteran QB to work with.

 

The Best Of The Rest

This was a very intriguing tight end class.

Irv Smith Jr. went to the Vikings, and while his playing time is blocked by veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph, reports are that Minnesota wants him on the field and is lining him up across the formation. This Vikings team has a pair of really good receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but questionable depth beyond that, so Smith has a chance to get good snaps and decent offensive involvement early on.

Jace Sternberger was drafted by the Packers, and while Aaron Rodgers has notoriously used his tight ends sparingly, he's a good route runner with good hands, and once the team moves on from Jimmy Graham (who I can't see being there in 2020), Sternberger will be able to carve out a decent role on this team. I don't see him becoming a top tight end, but he'll be in that tier of guys that you're willing to roll the dice on in fantasy when they have good matchups.

Beyond that, the tight ends come with a lot of question marks. Can Drew Sample be a receiving threat at this level? Will Kahale Warring get snaps in Houston?

 

So, The Winner Is...?

It's really close for me, but T.J. Hockenson has a situation that I like just a little bit more, and his ability as a blocker means he should be on the field more for the Lions than Fant is for the Broncos, at least early on.

Both guys have all the makings of successful NFL tight ends and fantasy assets, but give Hockenson the slight edge at this point.

More Dynasty League Strategy




More Recent Articles

 

Biggest Breakouts Of 2019: Wide Receivers

As we enter the initial phase of offseason activities you have recently completed a painstaking process of creating and managing rosters, with the goal of winning fantasy championships in 2019. Now, many of you have already shifted your focus toward planning your drafts in Best Ball and redraft leagues, while others are contemplating how you... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Conference Championships Matchups Analysis

Welcome to our NFL Conference Championships matchups analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering both of the AFC and NFC contests from the Sunday slate, helping you make the best decisions for your DFS contests this weekend. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries... Read More


Conference Championships Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Tight End ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward their owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More


Running Back ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, a sure-fire player is expected to reward his owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they end up as a season-long dud, though,... Read More


Dynasty Players to Sell in 2020

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano share their top sell candidates for dynasty football leagues in the 2020 fantasy football preseason. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210,... Read More


Biggest Surprises of 2019: Tight End

The 2019 NFL season was anything but predictable. I mean, the Tennessee Titans made the AFC title game! Andrew Luck retired right before the season! [Insert one of many, many other things here, because all lists need three items but I couldn't decide between all the possible third options.] One position where things at the... Read More


Wide Receiver ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward his owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More


Biggest Busts of 2019: Quarterback

The 2019 NFL season is over, and it's time to look back on what happened. 2019 was a year where some quarterbacks -- Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen -- leaped up to the top of the fantasy charts, while other guys faded from where they were expected to perform. Today, I want to talk about three... Read More


Four and Out: Fantasy Outlooks for Divisional Round Losers

For the four teams that were eliminated in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, the offseason has begun. For many fantasy football owners, the days have already started counting down to next season. Owners in dynasty leagues have started to mull over their decisions.  How some guys perform in the playoffs can certainly alter... Read More


Quarterback ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward their owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More


Biggest Busts of 2019: Wide Receivers

After a very interesting season of fantasy football action, many owners were left with a bitter taste in their mouth from a few of the “elite” NFL wide receivers. While Michael Thomas dominated and Julio Jones was his usual reliable self, not all was good if you played it safe by taking a receiver early.... Read More


Quarterback Risers and Fallers: 2019 Season Review

This article will examine the biggest risers and fallers at the quarterback position, which proved to be the most impactful in fantasy leagues as is often the case. Of the top-25 players in fantasy this season, 18 of them played the QB position and none of the 18 scored less than 280 fantasy points on... Read More


XFL Fantasy Football Rankings (Preseason)

As of this writing, there is exactly one month until XFL regular-season action begins. On February 8, the latest upstart professional league will kickoff (again) with spring football. It goes without saying that we hope it goes better than the first time, back in 2001, and lasts longer than the AAF. Before you settle in... Read More


Wide Receiver Risers and Fallers: 2019 Season Review

We continue our series covering the biggest risers and fallers of 2019 with the wide receiver position. I'll look at both 2018 and 2019 statistical outcomes from every player, contrast their performances, calculate differences in each category and come up with the most prominent names going forward. This past season, receivers didn't dominate in fantasy,... Read More