Gerald Everett & A History of TEs Coming Out of Nowhere for Fantasy Football
At 28 years old, it feels like we’re past due on the breakout we were promised with TE Gerald Everett. He’s been an eternal tease in the fantasy streets since he was taken in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of South Alabama. The fun factoid passed around Twitter is that Everett was the first Rams draft pick of the Sean McVay era, or the post Jeff Fisher-age if you prefer to look at it that way from an 8-8 perspective. He was “hand-selected” to be part of the McVay experience and while he did have some streamable stretches for fantasy and a few monster games (7-for-136 against SEA in 2019), Everett never really put it together for a full-season:
Ok, that career snapshot is not exactly inspiring to say the least. The fact he hasn’t sniffed top-15 at the position in any year does not bode well for you to continue reading this article. Apologies. Over the last five years, Everett was outproduced by some laughable TE names including fewer targets than backup Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate, fewer receiving yards than Noah Fant (in two fewer seasons), and fewer TDs than Trey Burton, who has been out of the league for two years.
Ok, so I’m kinda digging myself a hole already. (Get to the point Kyle.)
In 2022, Gerald Everett still fits several of the criteria we’ve looked for in the past for breakout TEs including mentioning him in the Narrowing the Field series I write every year which helped identify George Kittle & Mark Andrews pre-breakouts. Everett’s athleticism and yards-after-the-catch ability is what made him a 2nd round pick in the NFL. He’s been attached to solid offenses (LAR & SEA) although competing with other TEs (Tyler Higbee, Will Dissly) for opportunities.
He signed a 2 year deal with the Los Angeles Chargers this off-season with $8 million guaranteed. In terms of 2022, he’s being paid like a top-15 TE in the NFL. Although we’ve never seen him finish that high for fantasy purposes, I dusted off the fantasy almanacs to look for any historical templates we might have for TEs breaking out late in their careers.
Let’s turn back the clock remembering TEs of fantasy yesteryear and then give the case for Gerald Everett to be a breakout TE in 2022.
Brief History of Breakout TEs for Fantasy
I looked at every fantasy TE over the last decade and put together a couple of simple parameters for our little mad-scientist project:
- Older– the TEs had to be 27 years or older. Some of these TEs were either on their second contracts, former UDFAs, or journeymen that simply didn’t have any meaningful production.
- Poor Fantasy Performer– I wanted to find players that had limited amount of success if any thus far in their career. I set the bar at averaging fewer than 8 fantasy points per game in any given season. For context, that would’ve been the TE14 last year.
- Undrafted– Their ADP (according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com) had to be outside the top-14 rounds. I even tried to squeeze in a name like Jack Doyle on this list but coming into his 2017 campaign, he was being drafted in the 12th round. I want someone off the board people!
We’re looking for TEs 27 years or older, who never averaged more than 8 fantasy points per game in a season, and likely were not being drafted in redraft leagues.
Ok, now we get into the good stuff. I organized the players by year, age, and their previous best fantasy finish (FF) before comparing to their breakout year. If you had these players in their specific “breakout” years, prepare to experience some fantasy nostalgia.
Dennis Pitta– Throwback! Maybe you forgot about the original Pitty City, but Dennis Pitta was a valuable PPR option in 2012 as the Ravens worked that Joe Flacco magic all the way to the Super Bowl. Pitta is a bit of an anomaly in that his breakout 2012 season at age 27 was technically only his third in the NFL as he took a two-year hiatus in college at BYU to go on his Mormon mission. Sadly, a back injury forced him to retire in 2016 despite seeing 121 targets in his final season.
Delanie Walker– Let it be known that his first name autocorrects to ‘Melanie’ every single time. You remember Walker from his Titans days but for the first seven(!) years of his career, he was stuck behind Vernon Davis in San Francisco. In fact, before his breakout 2013 campaign and a string of high-end TE1 seasons in Tennessee, Walker never had more than 30 receptions in a season and he gathered a total of eight TDs in those seven years on the West Coast.
Gary Barnidge– This might be the most unforeseeable fantasy season of all time. Heck, even former Browns RB Peyton Hillis needs to move aside as “Maximum Barnidge” came out of nowhere. At age 30, Barnidge became the waiver wire steal of the year finishing as TE3 with consistent weekly production. Before that season, he compiled a meager career stat line of 40/603/3 on 80 targets since coming into the league in 2013. He destroyed that total in 2015 (79/1043/9) and secured his place forever in the hearts of fantasy managers. Predictable… no way! Was it fun? Oh yeah.
Jared Cook– Cook is going to give you the most Everett-ish vibes of this group: an athletic TE with YAC-ability who seemed to toy with us every year for fantasy. While Cook technically finished as TE12 in 2013, he didn’t hit our points per game threshold (7.7) and if you asked anybody in fantasy football what Cook was, it was a disappointment. Nevertheless, he became a weapon in Oakland with Derek Carr (yes before they moved to Las Vegas) and continued that trend in New Orleans with Drew Brees. While he might’ve been TD-dependent, most TEs are and if you attach yourself to competent QB play, you can prolong your career as a TE.
Darren Waller– Does it get any better? Props to one of our writers (Rob Wilson) who wrote an article (The Next George Kittle Isn’t Even Being Drafted) in 2019 highlighting Waller’s breakout potential BEFORE the season. As an editor, I was floored looking back at the article because Waller was sitting on dynasty waiver wires that off-season after flaming out with the Baltimore Ravens to start his career as a WR. Waller suffered a season-ending injury his rookie year, suspended for the first four weeks of 2016 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and again suspended in 2017 for the entire year as a repeat offender. He eventually landed with the Raiders backing up Jared Cook before launching into another stratosphere for fantasy. He’s now a true differentiator at the position and the poster child for TEs that can dominate out of nowhere.
Logan Thomas– Thomas entered the league as a QB, bounced around with the Dolphins, Bills, Cardinals, and Lions, before finding himself in a prime position on a Washington team void of viable pass-catchers behind Terry McLaurin. He was a revelation for TE-needy teams going from the waiver wire to being a weekly start and a top-6 finisher at the position at age 29.
Why Not Gerald Everett?
Based on Everett’s current Sleeper ADP (TE25/16.07) & Underdog ADP (TE21/15.01), he fits the mold of the previously mentioned TEs of a player going virtually undrafted especially in home leagues. When you add together the opportunity with the Chargers plus the late draft cost, it is a recipe for a potential breakout.
Everett never quite commanded volume in his career. His largest season target total (63), target share (15%), and touchdown total (4) are nothing to write home about. However, they were all achieved last year in Seattle in an offense that ranked dead last in passing plays per game. Why do we care?
Because Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense could not be further from what Everett experienced last year. LAC ranked third in pass attempts per game and Justin Herbert threw inside the 20-yard line 5th most in the NFL. The opportunity and passing volume is there from a team perspective. Herbert targeted his TEs 21 percent of the time equating to the 9th most fantasy points as a group. That included a 34-year-old Jared Cook who saw 83 targets, former UDFAs Donald Parham Jr. and Stephen Anderson, and rookie Tre McKitty who saw a whopping eight targets. Cook and Anderson are out the door and Parham always has been a part time player at best. Let’s muse on the fact how similar Gerald Everett & Jared Cook were last year in terms of their target share, how often they ran a pass route (vitally important as a TE), and a metric we care about a lot at the Fantasy Footballers: targets per routes run. As I mentioned earlier, a younger Jared Cook is probably the best comp for Everett at this stage of his career.
The question is how much of this offensive pie is available for Everett to eat? Austin Ekeler had an insane 20 red-zone TDs last year, a fact I highlighted and expounded upon earlier this off-season in Putting Austin Ekeler’s Magical 2021 Season into Perspective. Keenan Allen prints seasons of 100/1000/6 and Mike Williams was given a massive extension to be a game-breaker for this team. Nevertheless, Herbert targeted the TE position 21 percent in back-to-back seasons which puts their TEs as middle of the road. We’re not projecting volume higher much higher than what Cook had last year but when the stats bare out, there is room for Everett to hit in 2022.
I need to give credit where credit is due… Jason originally had his paws on Gerald Everett as one of his breakout picks for an upcoming show. I simply scowled at the suggestion, supplied the historical research, came back with a “I mean why not?”, and decided to turn our discussions into article form. I’ll give you a bit of a sneak peek at Jason’s current projections in the Ultimate Draft Kit for the Chargers TEs. Keep in mind this fits into what Jason believes for Los Angeles’ overall offensive output, their schedule, and within the team’s passing & pace metrics.
A top-10 TE is definitely well within Everett’s range of outcomes.
There are a number of TEs going ahead of him in drafts that also have giant question marks. How many TDs will Cole “I’m allergic to TDs” actually catch? Is Robert Tonyan healthy enough to contribute in a Packers offense without Davonte Adams? Is Albert Okwuegbunam being hyped up solely because of Russell Wilson? Is Noah Fant any good and do you want Drew Lock throwing you the ball?
While Everett certainly comes in with little on his fantasy resumè, his upside in the Los Angeles Chargers offense is worth pursuing. He’s an excellent TE2 in BestBall who I have ranked ahead of ADP in my rankings as a cheap stacking partner with Justin Herbert. He also could catch lightning in a bottle ala Jared Cook and become an 8+ TD guy that you use weekly for redraft and dynasty leagues.