It’s been a while since the Next Fantasy Football Breakout series started. We left off with a quarterback, running back and wide receiver but never rounded it out with the tight end pick. Well, now we have it. It’s time to find out who this year’s Fantasy Football breakout tight end will be.
Hunter Henry, LAC – Henry is so obvious that he’s going to end up costing as much as Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce. Heck, I even have him second in Non-PPR for tight ends, edging out Ertz and Kelce by two points. It’s all about the touchdowns with Henry, as while Ertz and Kelce have six and five, respectively, Henry checks in at eight. It’s the second highest total for any tight end projection, only behind Rob Gronkowski with nine. Yes, Mike Williams should take a significant step forward this year, but that’s more of an issue for Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams, not Henry, who caught eight touchdowns in 2016 and four last year. Antonio Gates averaged nine touchdowns during his prime (2004-2012) while missing 10 games from 2010-2012.
That’s the role Henry will fill.
Trey Burton, CHI – Just missed and will be overdrafted on hype (saw him go inside the Top 10 tight ends during a mock draft). Don’t forget that a new offense, receiver additions, Adam Shaheen and more is a lot to put on Mitchell Trubisky, and it’s a different offense for Burton as well. He can certainly get there, but don’t pay that price and absorb 100 percent of the risk.
Jack Doyle, IND – Will Andrew Luck ever be healthy?
Tyler Eifert, CIN – Will HE ever be healthy?
Austin Hooper, ATL – Was more intriguing before the addition of Calvin Ridley.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, JAX – Still has potential, but the Jaguars still have 37 receivers.
Who Is It?
Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI – Let’s start things off with the fact that the Cardinals didn’t draft a tight end. In fact, they only signed one, Andrew Vollert, a non-prospect from Weber State, in their 25-plus undrafted pool. The current depth chart sits with RSJ atop the list followed by Jermaine Gresham, who is a better blocker and tore his Achilles at the end of last year and then several non-names. There is the first check.
The second check is that the Cardinals GM, Steve Keim, is excited for RSJ’s potential (seems to make sense if he ignored the position in the draft and free agency).
“Ricky showed last year he could become a mismatch in the passing game athletically. Suddenness, his ability to create mismatches whether it is in motioning out of the slot, motioning out of the backfield. He is a guy to me that is just now scratching the surface. He’s a player we are excited about moving forward.”
The third check is for the stats.
And by that, I don’t just mean Seals-Jones’ stats (more on his in a moment). To start, I’m referring to Sam Bradford’s and his tight ends’ stats. For his career, Bradford targets the tight end 21.6 percent, receivers 63.7% and running backs 14.5% (0.2% other). He also completed 63.9 percent of those passes (593 targets) for 4,106 yards and 29 of his 101 touchdowns or 28.7 percent of his scores. Bradford likes his tight ends, and don’t forget that for the first four years, he had little to work with as Lance Kendricks was his best option, and Kendricks wasn’t around for Bradford’s rookie year.
The concise version is that Bradford’s tight ends have accounted for 20.8 percent of his targets, 21.0% receptions, 21.6% yards and 28.7% TDs.
You can look at Bradford’s three main tight ends for his career, and the numbers with and without him at quarterback are pretty stark.[table “2729” not found /]
When it comes to Seals-Jones, in limited action he flashed some serious upside. RSJ had the fifth highest aDOT only behind O.J. Howard, Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski and David Njoku. He led in yards per reception at 16.8 and was 15th in average yards after the catch at 6.3. The only area of need for Seals-Jones is to improve his catch percentage and drops, but remember who he was working with last year.
If you don’t grab one of the top tight ends this year, and yes, that includes Henry, you can wait and grab one or two high potential, late-round values. For the 2018 Fantasy Football season, the next breakout tight end and sleeper you should target is Ricky Seals-Jones.
Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin