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Bust Watch: Three Overvalued Tight Ends for 2020

Tight end is a deeper position heading into 2020 than in any other year in recent memory. You don't have to draft studs like Travis Kelce or George Kittle to feel good about your tight end situation this season. Plenty of young, promising talent emerged in 2019, while some older names continued to perform or even re-emerged onto the scene.

There's going to be a lot of players to consider for your TE1 this season. If you're not drafting one of the top four guys, you need to make sure you make the right decision. I'm here to help you avoid making the wrong decision.

If you're considering making any of the following three players your lead tight end this season, it might be time to consider a different approach. Here are some potential busts you should be aware of:

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Rob Gronkowski - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (79 ADP, TE9)

Rob Gronkowski's ADP is noticeably higher in ESPN leagues, where more casual players play. (via Fantasy Pros)

Gronk will certainly be one of the more polarizing options at the tight end position in 2020. His current FantasyPros PPR ADP is TE9, but he's being drafted as a TE6 in ESPN leagues. His ADP is useless due to the variance of his draft positioning between expert and non-expert leagues. You're going to have to reach for Gronk if you want him on your fantasy team this year, but he's not worth it.

Let's start with the former Patriot himself. After a decade of dominance, the TE showed clear signs of slowing down in 2018, finishing as the 11th overall TE in PPR scoring and ninth in fantasy points-per-game. He averaged just 52.5 yards per game, the lowest since his rookie season. He only scored three touchdowns, making it just the third time in his career he grabbed less than eight touchdowns. In those other two seasons with just three touchdowns, he played in eight or fewer games. He appeared in 13 games in 2018. The decline was enough to make Gronk retire, at least temporarily.

Maybe a year off was exactly what the talented player needed? Even so, it remains highly unlikely he'll even sniff the production he was known for in New England. Tampa Bay had two talented tight ends on their roster last season in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. They barely threw either one the ball, and the duo combined for 70 catches on 108 targets for 770 yards and five touchdowns. If you combined Brate and Howard's 2019 numbers, they would have finished as TE7 in overall PPR fantasy points and 11th in points-per-game at the position.

Gronk would have to absorb every single target the duo received in 2019 for me to consider him where his ADP is going to end up in 2020. But both Brate and Howard are still on the team! Therefore, Gronk is going to have to fight for targets at his own position, a position largely ignored by head coach Bruce Arians during his time in the NFL. We haven't even mentioned the fact that he also has WRs Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to compete with for targets. Don't buy Gronk on his name value. He'll be a better real-life player than a fantasy player in 2020.

Jared Cook - New Orleans Saints (95 ADP, TE10)

Jared Cook hauled in nine touchdowns in his first season with the Saints last year. It was the second-highest total at the position, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews. Both Cook and Andrews may be due for a touchdown regression in 2020, and there is one notable difference between the two players. Andrews is a blooming young tight end playing with the reigning MVP (Lamar Jackson) at quarterback in an offense without much competition for targets. Cook is an aging, inconsistent player paired with an aging quarterback (Drew Brees) in an offense featuring the league's most targeted receiver (Michael Thomas) and one of the most versatile running backs (Alvin Kamara).

Cook finished as the overall TE7 in PPR scoring last year despite scoring three or more touchdowns than five of the six players who finished ahead of him. His numbers were bloated by an unsustainable touchdown total. The last Saints tight end to put up solid numbers was Benjamin Watson in 2015. Watson recorded over 800 yards and nabbed six touchdowns. The following season, the Saints paired their WR1, Brandin Cooks, with a guy named Michael Thomas, and Watson's replacement Coby Fleener saw his numbers go down across the board.

What did the Saints do this offseason? Well, they paired Michael Thomas with Emmanuel Sanders, easily the best WR2 the team has had since Cooks was traded following the 2016 season. Thomas, Sanders, and Alvin Kamara are all going to see targets and touchdowns before Jared Cook. Do we really expect a 33-year-old tight end to build on a 43 reception, 705-yard season? Plus, it's nearly impossible to build on a total of nine touchdowns. The Saints have a lot of talent that is going to see the ball before Cook. He'll be involved, but there are just more intriguing, higher-upside options at TE10 than this NOLA tight end.

 

Noah Fant - Denver Broncos (109 Overall, TE12)

I like Noah Fant. He's a good prospect and I think he's going to be a good player. Coming off a solid rookie year, he has a chance to be a blow-up candidate in 2020. But, standing at TE12 and likely being drafted as a starting tight end, I think there are more intriguing options here.

Similarly to Tampa Bay and New Orleans, Denver's offense is crowded. In 2019, Fant likely saw a bit more work than a rookie tight end should have due to a lack of passing options on the team. Nevertheless, the Broncos spent high draft capital on two wide receivers in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. They also spent a pretty penny on former Charger Melvin Gordon III, a running back who's made a career as a dual-threat guy. RBs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay combined for 98 targets last season, but neither guy is known to be a pass-catching back.

Fant finished second on the team in targets last season. Can he repeat? It's possible, but unlikely. Gordon is certainly going to take some work in the passing game. Denver didn't draft Jeudy and Hamler to sit on the bench. All three guys are going to catch passes in addition to Courtland Sutton, the team's top option who saw nearly twice as many targets as Fant last season. On top of all this, we don't even know if the Broncos have a good quarterback. The team loaded this offense with weapons to put QB Drew Lock in a position to succeed. His best path to doing that is by spreading the wealth.

Fant has a chance to explode this year. But guys like Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, T.J. Hockenson, and Jonnu Smith have a more likely path to a breakout season, and they're all being drafted behind Fant. If you're going to wait to draft a starting tight end, look for a guy who has a clear path to heavy targets.



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