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Sam LaPorta Fantasy Football Profile: 2023 NFL Rookies and Sleepers

Sam LaPorta- Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Sam LaPorta was just a three-star prospect and was the No. 42 tight end coming out of high school in the class of 2019 (247 Sports), but he landed with the school that has produced a ton of tight end talent in recent years. Iowa currently has tight ends George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Parker Hesse on NFL rosters, with Kittle and Hockenson being some of the game's elite players at the position.

Needless to say, the expectations for an Iowa tight end are high and while it took time for LaPorta to develop and become a high-level NFL prospect -- he eventually got there and landed in a great spot for early fantasy production.

What did LaPorta accomplish during his Iowa career and what is his fantasy football outlook with the Detroit Lions as a rookie and beyond? Let's dive into his rookie profile!

 

Sam LaPorta NFL Rookie Profile

Team: Detroit Lions

College: Iowa

Height: 6’3"

Weight 245

Age: 22 (1/12/2001)

Arm Length: 33 1/8"

Hand Size: 10 1/4"

2022 NFL Draft: Round 2, Pick: 3

 

Scarce Freshman and Sophomore Usage

Since LaPorta wasn't an elite prospect, he didn't have an instant leg up on competition and he wasn't given a premium role in the Iowa offense. However, he did get some action as a true freshman, catching 15 passes for 188 yards in 12 games (two starts). Iowa had just eight games in 2020 thanks to Covid-19, and LaPorta secured 27 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown.

Season Games Rec. Yards YPR TDs
2019 12 15 188 12.5 0
2020 8 27 271 10.0 1

Ultimately, his first two years in college didn't put him on the NFL radar, but there was still plenty of time for him to carve out a significant role in the pro-style offense moving forward.

 

Junior Year Upside Flash

Despite Iowa ranking 99th nationally in scoring offense, LaPorta became a real passing-game weapon in 2021. His 53-670-3 line in his junior season can't be mistaken for video game numbers, but the closest teammate in receptions was Tyler Goodson at 31, and receiving yards was Keagan Johnson at 352. LaPorta established himself as the No. 1 option in the passing game, which signifies dominance and excellence from the tight end position.

Opponent Rec. Rec. Yds YPR TD
Indiana 5 83 16.6 0
Iowa State 1 21 21 0
Kent State 7 65 9.3 1
Colorado State 4 45 11.3 1
Maryland 5 49 9.8 0
Penn State 1 8 8.0 0
Purdue 5 61 12.2 0
Wisconsin 3 44 14.7 0
Northwestern 3 15 5.0 0
Minnesota 3 34 11.3 0
Nebraska 3 61 20.3 0
Michigan 6 62 10.3 0
Kentucky 7 122 17.4 1
Total 53 670 12.6 3

In Iowa's Citrus Bowl loss to Will Levis and the Kentucky Wildcats, LaPorta flashed with seven receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. If he wasn't already on the map for NFL teams, this put him on it.

Still, he decided to come back for a final year, and once again saw No. 1 target usage for Iowa.

 

Final Collegiate Season

Iowa's offense was even worse during LaPorta's senior season, ranking 123rd out of 131 FBS teams in passing yards per game and points per game. The Hawkeyes scored just seven points against South Dakota State of the FCS, so naturally, LaPorta got off to a slow start.

Iowa scored just seven points against Iowa State and quarterback Spencer Petras completed just 12 passes for 96 yards, making LaPorta's 8-55 line a lot more impressive with context.

Opponent Rec. Rec. Yds YPR TD
South Dakota State 2 9 4.5 0
Iowa State 8 55 6.9 0
Nevada 2 13 6.5 0
Rutgers 4 77 19.3 0
Michigan 5 24 4.8 0
Illinois 9 101 11.2 0
Ohio State 6 55 9.2 0
Northwestern 5 53 10.6 0
Purdue 3 71 23.7 1
Wisconsin 5 48 9.6 0
Minnesota 4 95 23.8 0
Kentucky 5 56 11.2 0
Total 58 657 11.3 1

LaPorta was the lone bright spot for the lifeless Iowa offensive unit, and he again dominated the team in receptions and receiving yards. Then, just about a calendar year later, he had another monster catch and run in a bowl game rematch against Kentucky.

His entire body of work is impressive in the context of his offense, but timely end-of-season flashes certainly didn't hurt his draft stock.

 

Sam LaPorta Draft Stock Movement

LaPorta was securely on the NFL radar by the time the pre-draft process rolled around, but he was projected to go as late as day-three early on.

Sam-Laporta-Pre-Draft-Data

Sam LaPorta Pre-Draft Data

The 2023 NFL Combine changed everything for him. LaPorta had impressive stats and metrics, but NFL teams want to see high-end athleticism in tight end prospects. As shown below, the 22-year-old posted elite speed and agility grades and an impressive explosion grade. His only knock was his size, but the TE position is starting to come in all shapes and sizes. Tight ends tested on Saturday, March 4 ‚Äď and (as shown above) his stock rose dramatically among mock drafters.

He ended up being the consensus 59th overall prospect by thousands of mock drafts but ultimately became the second tight end selected with the third pick of the second round by the Detroit Lions.

 

Sam LaPorta Fantasy Football Outlook

Detroit was seen as one of the best landing spots for a tight end during the pre-draft process, so LaPorta landing in one of last season's best offenses with targets up for grabs is a great development for his fantasy profile. T.J. Hockenson, who had a quality fantasy role in Detroit, was shipped to the Minnesota Vikings last year, so LaPorta is almost a lock to be the team's day-one starter at the position.

While Amon-Ra St. Brown is a target hog and first-round running back Jahmyr Gibbs is expected to be heavily involved in the passing game, there could be plenty of room on the bone for LaPorta. Jameson Williams will miss the first six games of the 2023 season because of a suspension for gambling, meaning LaPorta will have one fewer player to compete with for targets. Tight ends often take time to develop, but LaPorta is polished compared to many rookie tight ends and will have an early path to volume.

LaPorta sets up to be a quality mid-second-round pick in dynasty rookie drafts. As far as 2023 redraft leagues go, expectations should be tempered, but at his TE19 cost, he could be worth rostering as a backup for when a player is on a bye week or as a late-season upside bench stash. Detroit's defense will still likely struggle, so there could be plenty of high-volume passing games for Jared Goff in Ben Johnson's offense. That said, LaPorta has a real chance to post fantasy TE2 numbers in PPR formats right away.



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