Why Mike Gesicki Will Be Heavily Targeted in 2020 (Fantasy Football)

I recently released my top-12 tight ends for fantasy football on Twitter, and the masses were not happy when they saw Mike Gesicki inside my top-12 at the position. Worth noting, Mike, Andy, and Jason have Gesicki ranked as their consensus TE7 in their initial 2020 TE rankings. If all four of us can agree that Gesicki has top-10 upside, why is the public concerned about the third year TE as a stable fantasy asset in 2020? The most common answer to this question is the fact that fantasy owners are worried about Chan Gailey, the new Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, and his ability to utilize the TE position in his offense. Will the trend continue, or should fantasy owners shy away from Gesicki in drafts?

Be sure to check out Mike Gesicki’s full statistical projections from Andy, Mike, and Jason in the Ultimate Draft Kit.

2019 Player Profile
Targets Receptions Yards Yards/Reception TD
89 51 570 11.2 5

Mike Gesicki had a mini-breakout campaign in 2019 on the back of over 500 receiving yards and five TDs. From Weeks 6-17, Gesicki was the TE10 in fantasy football. During that time, he finished with five top-10 finishes at the position as well as four top-5 finishes. Gesicki flashed big-time upside in 2019, but what can we expect from the third year TE in 2020?

2019 Advanced Statistics

In order to project Gesicki for the 2020 season and understand how he’ll be utilized in Chan Gailey’s offense, it’s important for fantasy gamers to look at Mike Gesicki as more of a big slot WR. Per Pro Football Focus, Mike Gesicki lined up in the slot 461 times while he lined up inline just 159 times in 2019. Excluding the four snaps Gesicki played on kick returns, he lined up in the slot a whopping 66% of the time. Meanwhile, he was lined up as a ‘traditional TE’ just 23% of the time.

When lined up in the slot in 2019, Gesicki excelled. Of all position players who played a minimum of 200 snaps in the slot, Gesicki ranked 11th in completion percentage, 17th in receiving yards, and tied for fourth in receiving TDs. Now, those receiving yard totals may not sound like a lot, but remember, these numbers are stacked up against WRs. He was the only TE to rank inside the top-20 in receiving yards from the slot with the threshold set at a minimum of 200 snaps.

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Chan Gailey’s Coaching History

Chan Gailey has spent several years in the NFL and at the college level and has held a variety of different positions with several teams. Most recently, he was the offensive coordinator in 2008 of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills head coach from 2010-2012, and the Jets offensive coordinator from 2015-2016. Let’s look at how the TE performed on these rosters under Gailey.

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Tight End Year Targets Receptions Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs 2008 155 96 1,058 10
Multiple Starters, Buffalo Bills 2010 28 23 70 1
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills 2011 46 38 389 6
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills 2012 74 43 571 6
Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets 2015 14 5 77 0
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets 2016 17 10 110 0

Next, let’s take a look at how the slot pass catcher performed in Gailey’s offense in those same seasons. For reference, the players used in the table below are the players who played the most snaps in the slot for their team in that given season. The statistics that follow are based on production in the slot.

Pass Catcher Year Targets Receptions Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs 2008 113 (2nd) 74 839 2
David Nelson, Buffalo Bills 2010 44 (19th) 29 327 3
David Nelson, Buffalo Bills 2011 87 (3rd) 56 622 3
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills 2012 45 (T-28th) 27 304 2
Eric Decker, New York Jets 2015 81 (5th) 56 695 7
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets 2016 67 (12th) 36 488 3

As seen in the tables above, Chan Gailey doesn’t always target his TEs heavily. However, when he has an athletic TE who plays in the slot, he typically¬†does target him. Regardless of position, Gailey utilizes the slot pass catcher in his offense. In this six-season sample size, Gailey’s primary slot receiver finished top-20 in the NFL in targets when lined up in the slot.

2020 Fantasy Preview

After passing on WR until the 7th round NFL Draft, it appears as though Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams are locked in behind DeVante Parker in the pecking order for targets. However, there are two things working in favor of Gesicki to be the Dolphins number two target in 2020. First, Preston Williams is recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee. He should be ready for Week 1, but research across the board suggests it takes most players about a year to reach their prior level of play. Second, Preston Williams lined up in the slot just 23% of the time.

If Chan Gailey continues to follow his trend of targeting his slot pass catcher in his offense, it looks like Gesicki could be the guy in 2020. Yes, Albert Wilson is returning, but he’s missed at least two games in every season of his NFL career due to injury, and he’s never topped 62 targets in his career. Look for Gesicki to be the guy in the slot for the Dolphins in 2020. If he is, he should produce top-10 TE numbers in fantasy football.

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