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

As a dynasty owner preparing for your upcoming rookie draft, the top of your board is probably not littered with tight ends. Nonetheless, it's an important position that requires far more scrutiny from the fantasy owner to pick the right player, since targets are fewer and usage is less than a high volume position like running back.

The 2018 rookie class is full of talent at the tight end position. With several big name prospects landing in a less than ideal situation, there is just one name that stands alone as the obvious first pick off the board in your dynasty rookie drafts.

Before I jump into who that player is and just why he is worth being the first off the board, (not to mention a first round pick), it's important to note just why some of the other tight end prospects aren't cutting it as first rounders.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Not Quite First Round Material

The Ravens

One of the first things to note about the Ravens is that this is in fact a nice landing spot for a rookie. It was one of the teams I was hoping a tight end would land with, and sure enough, it happened. However, the Baltimore Ravens shocked the dynasty world in the 2018 NFL Draft by snagging two of the top prospects in this class in the first three rounds of the draft. The biggest surprise was the 24-year-old out of South Carolina, Hayden Hurst, going 25th overall in the draft. Not only was he the first tight end off the board, but he was the oldest tight end in this class to be drafted. Hurst is currently 24, and turns 25 later this year, in August. While the tight end position is one that typically has more longevity than other positions, this is one of the reasons that he was lower on most dynasty rankings, prior to landing in Baltimore. Hurst is an excellent prospect, drawing comparisons to some big-name tight ends, such as the recently injured Hunter Henry.

After grabbing Hurst in the first round, the Ravens grabbed Oklahoma Sooner Mark Andrews with their second of two third round picks, 86th overall. Andrews was another prospect with some nice combine work and good size, drawing a PlayerProfiler comparison to the now Colts tight end, Eric Ebron. Although the Ravens were a nice spot for a rookie tight end to land, and it's clear which direction the Ravens are going with their other rookie, Lamar Jackson, this is far from ideal for dynasty owners. If you're in need of a tight end in your dynasty leagues, I would prefer grabbing Hurst, but more than likely I'd be grabbing whichever of the two falls further to you in your rookie drafts. Take the best value.

Dallas Goedert

Prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, the rookie out of South Dakota State was one of my favorite prospects at the tight end position in this class. To be perfectly blunt, this was damn near the worst possible spot for a rookie tight end to land, along with Kansas City. There are some new dogs in town when it comes to dynasty tight end rankings, and no, Rob Gronkowski is no longer the consensus number one tight end. It's Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce. The two have produced for several seasons consistently now, and both are set up to continue in their success. The Eagles offense is lethal, and the Carson Wentz to Ertz connection is going to be something that we are all used to hearing, if you aren't already. On the other hand, the Chiefs have a nice young quarterback prospect in Patrick Mahomes, who just about everyone is banking on being a great dynasty QB. Nothing is certain yet, but with a sure-fire security blanket like Kelce, I expect him to continue with his elite production.

This one hurt pretty deep for dynasty owners. Landing in Philadelphia with Ertz puts Goedert in a situation where he should be on your bench for several years. Unless an injury would occur to Ertz, or the Eagles move on from one or the other in the next couple years, Goedert is now a very long-term play. On the flip side, he'll be able to continue to mature and improve, with an excellent veteran ahead of him to learn from. Goedert's stock has fallen in dynsaty, and you'll likely be able to grab him in the third round or so of your rookie drafts, whereas he could have been considered a high second-rounder a couple of months ago.

Ian Thomas

The next rookie tight end that should go off the board in your drafts is the tight end out of Indiana University. The 6'4" 260-lb tight end landed in a spot that is one of the best spots that a rookie tight end could hope for. Although an immediate return on investment isn't exactly what you're looking at here, veteran Greg Olsen is as good as anyone for a rookie to learn from and develop behind. If your rookie drafts are longer than four rounds, Thomas is someone you can grab and stash for a year or two. Olsen is 33 this year and is still recovering from his latest foot injury. A career in TV is not far away, so don't expect him to play several more seasons. Whether you own Olsen or not, if you can afford to stash Thomas, do it.

 

So Who Should Be the First Rookie TE In My Draft?

If you've been involved in dynasty football in the slightest over the past few months, you'll know by process of elimination who the first rookie tight end off the board should be. At 6'6" 250 lbs, the beast out of Penn State is none other than Mike Gesicki. Gesicki is all around, one of the most talented, and definitely the most athletic, tight end in this class. Throughout college he was a three-sport athlete, breaking records in Volleyball, Basketball, and Football. His PlayerProfiler scores were all in the 95th to 100th percentile for tight ends, drawing comparisons to veteran Vernon Davis. Prior to the combine, he was one of the top prospects based on his pass-catching ability, blocking ability, ability to separate, and has great hands. He possesses all of the tools that a starting tight end in the NFL needs, and lands in a position where he is set up to succeed from the jump. Someone of his size and athleticism can turn into a matchup nightmare for defenses.

With the departure of Jarvis Landry to Cleveland, the return of Ryan Tannehill, and the lack of weapons at the receiver position, Gesicki owners can expect immediate production and an excellent red-zone target for Tannehill to lean on. I fully expect him to jump into this offense and make an impact from day one. Between his pass catching ability and the need that the Dolphins currently have for a pass catcher, there's a very good chance he'll be out on the field in Week 1.

At this point in time, Gesicki is the 15th player off the board over at MyFantasyLeague.com. Assuming 12 teams, this puts him at the very beginning of the second round. While I agree that this is appropriate value, I have no problem grabbing him at the end of the first round. If you're a team in need of a tight end, don't be scared to take him at the end of the first round. Currently there are three top tier tight ends, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and Rob Gronkowski, then there is a fairly big drop-off. When you're getting past the first five or so tight ends, the rest is looking like a total toss up. Gesicki by default is moving into the top 12 tight end range, and rightfully so.

 

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