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

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


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 full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. 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


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Cooper Kupp

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More

The Tape Tells All - Christian Kirk Fantasy Analysis

Welcome to another edition of "The Tape Tells All," where I break down some film of an NFL's player performance and try to draw some fantasy football conclusions from that film. This week, I'm looking at Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk, who broke out in Week 10, catching three touchdowns. Kirk seems to have... Read More

Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Darius Slayton, Christian Kirk, Kareem Hunt

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More

FAAB Bidding - Week 11 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More

Week 11 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

It's crunch time, with precious few games left before the fantasy regular season ends. There aren't many new names emerging on the waiver wire at this juncture but the RB situations in Atlanta and Detroit bear watching, while the Jets passing game has shown signs of life. No, really. Each week, we will advise you... Read More

Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 11

Rotoballers, if you're not active on the waiver wire this time of year, there are only two reasonable explanations: 1) You're sitting at 3-7 (or worse) and don't find it enjoyable to play spoiler to your league mates, or 2) You're 8-2 (or better) and have nothing but matchup-proof studs on your starting lineup and... Read More

Week 11 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 11 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 11 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More

Week 11 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

It's Week 11, and we're getting closer and closer to the fantasy football playoffs. The consistent options are getting more and more clear, especially at the kicking position. We're also going to start dealing with everyone's favorite factor, which is inclement weather, especially up north. The margin for error in these weeks is slim, and... Read More

Week 10 Surprises? We Must Overreact Immediately!

In Week 10, Christian Kirk, Darius Slayton, Tyreek Hill, and Michael Thomas all had beatable cornerback matchups and finished as the top-four wide receivers in PPR scoring. At running back, Derrick Henry exploited a poor Chiefs run defense and rumbled for 188 yards and two touchdowns, finishing as the No. 1 running back on the week. Ronald... Read More

The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 11)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 11. Some of you are in the favorable position of only needing slight modifications to rosters that are destined to enter the fantasy playoffs. But many of you are still searching for the most effective... Read More

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

Did you survive the terrible, no good, very bad six-team bye week? If so, welcome to the other side, when roster building gets slightly easier going forward. If not, I'm sorry, but you still have time to get things back on the right path. Let's talk about some wide receivers who might be able to... Read More

Week 11 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football squad is still in the playoff hunt heading into Week 11, then congratulations on not being the Pat Shurmur or Freddie Kitchens of your league. Fantasy football players will have to live without New York’s Evan Engram, Green Bay’s Jimmy Graham and Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith as their teams are on bye.... Read More

Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 11

We've got plenty to unpack at the quarterback position following an exciting Week 10. While no major injuries occurred in game, the revelation of Matthew Stafford's back injury was quite a surprise and left some owners scrambling just before lineups locked. So the year of the backup continued this week, as 16 of the 32... Read More

Waiver Wire Express - Week 11 Lightning Round

With 10 weeks down and only a few more weeks of the fantasy regular season to go, your vision for the playoffs should be coming into focus. The Giants, Packers, Seahawks and Titans are on bye -- with the Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs and Vikings in Week 12 to round out the weekly vacations. To help... Read More