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 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 Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 15

Welcome to our Week 15 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Week 15 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


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to miss another game this week. Evan Engram and Daniel Jones are not expected... Read More


All-Day For the Win: Why Adrian Peterson Matters Again

I don't think anyone could ever be happy at any sports player getting injured. It just makes no sense, so please leave the hatred out now and forever when it comes to that. That being said, though, we're talking about just a branch of sports here with fantasy football, and we all know what is... Read More


Fantasy Football IDP Rankings for Week 15 (Top 100)

One of the great things about implementing IDP in fantasy football is that it balances out some of the insanity that the offensive players produce in some weeks. If you started a lineup with Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Boston Scott, A.J. Brown, Darius Slayton, and Noah Fant then you undoubtedly crushed your opponent while a... Read More


Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Kenny Golladay, Kenyan Drake, James White

If there was ever a week to have more booms than busts in your fantasy football lineup, it’s this week. The playoffs are either underway or about to start in fantasy football leagues across the nation and around the world. If you are lucky enough to be the proud owner of a playoff team, then... Read More


Show Me The Money! Stashes That Could Win Your League

Success in the fantasy playoffs is all about planning ahead. Your bench is no longer a safe space for high floor players without much of a ceiling; they won't win you the big game. You need to look ahead and stash players with exploitable matchups in the weeks to come so that you don't get... Read More


Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 14 Analysis

Wide receivers are essential components toward your ultimate goal of securing league championships. If you are preparing for Week 15 matchups, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge. Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position, which is designed... Read More


The King's Week 15 Lineup Rankings and Analysis (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers! Below you will find my Week 15 fantasy football lineup rankings for the second round of your playoffs. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR, and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions, especially on the weekends. Skill Position analysis versus... Read More


Week 15 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are in full swing in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning... Read More


NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 15) - Targets and Avoids

Week 13 was a pretty chalky one with just three underdogs winning outright. The biggest upset was the Broncos absolutely annihilating the Houston Texans who were still celebrating their "Super Bowl" win against the Patriots the week prior. Three weeks remain and I'd be a fool to think there are hundreds who are reading this... Read More


The Tape Tells All - Robby Anderson Fantasy Outlook

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 New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson, who's shaken off a slow start to the 2019 season by going... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers, Fallers - Zach Ertz, Emmanuel Sanders, Robert Woods

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


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Sit Your Studs?

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


Week 15 Warning Signs: Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Julio Jones

You made the playoffs. Awesome. Now you have even won your first game. That is even better. But now what? There are many players, some of whom performed in the first round, who may not be so fortunate this week. Whether it is a bad matchup or injuries to key players around them, this could... Read More