Three TEs to Stash on Your Dynasty Teams (Fantasy Football)
It seems like every offseason we’re obsessed with finding the next *insert player*. Whether it’s Tyreek Hill, AJ Brown, Alvin Kamara, or even a massive flop that broke your heart permanently (I’m looking at you, OJ Howard). We always want the next thing that resembles the thing we loved, so we’re constantly searching for it. Darren Waller is a perfect example of this because he was the first league-breaking tight end pick that seemed to have come from nowhere. Finding the next Darren Waller is nearly impossible on a season-to-season basis, but they will definitely come up every once in a while. There is a near-zero chance of that happening this year. That’s why dynasty tight ends should be your priority.
There aren’t a lot of redraft tight ends with similar volume potential as Waller or even any that come close. The next ‘out of nowhere’ tight end breakout could potentially take a few seasons, as guys like TJ Hockenson, Dallas Goedert, and Mark Andrews already have big leaps priced into their ADPs in every format. Identifying potential long-term options in offenses that are friendly for tight ends will be key for dynasty managers who don’t have one of the big three or the obvious next man up in Kyle Pitts.
I’ve applied a similar process to the one that helped me identify both Waller in 2018 and Logan Thomas in 2020, in hopes that I may find someone closer to fantasy relevance than they appear. These are dynasty stashes for the most part, as their path to genuine target volume isn’t as clear and they need some time to develop with their offenses. Easily identifiable long-term stashes like Adam Trautman and Blake Jarwin are already discussed enough, so this is the next group that we might be talking about later this season or when we’re preparing for 2022 drafts.
Here is my resulting shortlist of long term stashes, in order of immediate priority:
Parham should be added yesterday. He will be talked about sooner rather than later. With 93 vacated targets available since Hunter Henry moved on to New England, there is an obvious opportunity for the pass catchers in Los Angeles. Henry was a steady presence in the fantasy top ten at his position, and we have to imagine he could have taken another leap with Justin Herbert if he would have re-signed with the Chargers. Donald Parham is the next man up in 2021, and there’s a good chance that he could be relevant immediately. He’s a different player than Henry, but the opportunity will be there.
Per PlayerProfiler, Parham had a dominator rating in the 99th percentile in college and a breakout age that was in the 93rd percentile. He’s an excellent athlete with a production profile that was under-the-radar exceptional. Tight-end breakouts tend to happen with guys that have spent some time in their offenses and have at least seen the field in the previous season, and Parham fits that mold perfectly. He has an excellent quarterback throwing him the ball, and his athleticism provides a potentially huge ceiling long-term. Keenan Allen is slowly hitting the age wall, and Mike Williams is a wild card that won’t ever be a true target hog. Parham could develop into a reliable red-zone weapon for Herbert and the Chargers a lot earlier than the other two guys on this list, so it’s important to roster him now. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he ends up as a waiver wire target at some point this year.
Kylen Granson was the Colts’ fourth-round pick in this past draft. He played at Rice for his first two seasons in college, then finished up his career at SMU. He’s not a big name in casual NFL circles, but his profile and opportunity outweigh his lack of star power. When you’re trying to find a breakout tight end, the most important thing to look for is athleticism, but a second trait that’s not talked about enough is route running ability and ball skills. Players like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller were exceptional athletes coming out of college, but they were also more refined route runners than their peers. Darren Waller was a receiver turned tight end, and that helped him command targets early on in his career.
As far as athleticism goes, Granson checks a lot of boxes. There wasn’t an official NFL combine this year, so we don’t have a hyper-accurate number on his 40-yard dash or any of the other important drills that would normally help build a full profile for him. This may be to our advantage. If we utilize pro day metrics, then Granson notched the third-fastest time for a tight end in 2021, behind only Kyle Pitts and Quintin Morris of Bowling Green. Per PlayerProfiler, he ranks in the top 25% historically at the tight end position in three of the five categories they track, including an excellent burst score and an agility score that tops both Waller’s and Kittle’s. These metrics are based on his pro day, of course, so they should be taken with a grain of salt.
As far as his pass-catching background, this is where things get interesting. Granson committed to Rice and played his two first seasons there as a receiver, and compiled 800 yards in two seasons before transferring to SMU and converting to Tight End. These aren’t big numbers, but the position and role he was in show you that he started as a receiver, and made the transition afterward. He received a scholarship as a pass catcher and route runner and is learning to play the tight end position. This is a much easier transition than it is for tight ends learning to catch the ball and separate from defenders. It’s more natural for them to start as receivers, and it bodes well for fantasy. He will need to improve as a blocker to see the field enough to be relevant, but his athletic ability indicates he’s up to the task.
Frank Reich has talked at length about the importance of the tight end position in his scheme, and both Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox have failed to reach the bar that was set for Reich in 2017 by Zach Ertz. The Colts ranked sixth and fifteenth in targets to the tight end position in 2019 and 2020, and the big difference there was the departure of Eric Ebron. If Granson can improve quickly, he can reignite some of those targets in an offense that desperately lacks weapons. Behind Michael Pittman, things are wide open. Granson has a good shot to become a major part of this offense, and quickly. The rookie is already gaining steam from local beat reporters, so this window won’t be open long. Get him on your roster now.
When I first looked into Jackson’s athletic profile, my jaw literally dropped. He’s one of the better athletes at the position in the league, but he’s barely being talked about. His profile mirrors Logan Thomas’ and he has the necessary speed scores to indicate serious TE1 potential. To make the Thomas comparison even more bizarre, both of them were quarterbacks in college. Jackson doesn’t have a background in route running and pass-catching, so this might be a longer project for the Eagles. He’s essentially the polar opposite of Granson, but with a much higher ceiling athletically. His background as a quarterback may help him when it comes to spacing and reading defenses, but he will need to learn the position first to even get there. That will take time.
Zach Ertz is somehow still on the Eagles roster, and Dallas Goedert is ready to take the next leap to fantasy stardom if things go the right way. Jackson could ease into the TE2 role that Ertz will soon leave behind, and he could be a monster long-term once he improves upon the receiving aspect of things. The Eagles consistently deploy 12 personnel, so they will want another player in the fold if Ertz leaves. Logan Thomas didn’t break out until he was 30, and Jackson doesn’t have an immediate path to targets in 2021 but he has some good things in front of him. The reason we want to roster him is for his long-term potential and pure athletic profile, in an offense that loves the tight end position. Goedert was relevant long before Ertz was done, and Jackson could be relevant long before Goedert leaves town.