2023 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Dalton Kincaid (Fantasy Football)
As we settle into the offseason and look forward to the NFL Draft, there appear to be two consensus names at the top of everyone’s rookie TE rankings: Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid. Both should be exciting rookie draft selections who are expected to hear their names called in the first round of the NFL Draft, but their play style is drastically different – Kincaid profiles as the more athletic pass-catching type of TE that we covet in fantasy circles while Mayer profiles as more of your traditional well-rounded prospect.
The former Utah TE put up some impressive numbers during his final year in college, and because of that, he’s an early favorite of NFL Draft analysts like Daniel Jeremiah, who has Kincaid ranked as his 10th overall player in the class, regardless of position. We’ll take a look at his college production profile, check out what’s on tape, and discuss what his fantasy outlook might look like in 2023 and beyond.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2023 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2023.
College Production Profile
Coming out of high school, Dalton Kincaid was not heavily recruited. Why? Kincaid only played one year of high school football as his main sport was basketball when he was in high school. Because of that, he began his collegiate career in the FCS at the University of San Diego, where he played for two seasons. Kincaid flashed big-play potential early in his career, leading all FCS tight ends with 19.0 yards per reception in 2019 before transferring to Utah to play in the PAC 12. Kincaid didn’t get on the field much during his first season at Utah, but he showed significant growth in 2021 and 2022 when he was a focal point of the passing attack.
It is worth noting that Kincaid’s 2022 production was very likely influenced by the team losing fellow TE Brant Kuithe in late September to a season-ending knee injury. At the time of the injury, Kuithe was the Utes’ leader in receptions. This isn’t to take anything away from Kincaid’s stellar 2022 season, but the context here is helpful to show that Kincaid’s opportunity and responsibility in the offense grew when his teammate when down.
Kincaid’s impressive 2022 season helped him earn first-team All-PAC 12 honors, and he was named as a finalist for the Mackey award, which is given to the nation’s top TE. Kincaid’s 890 receiving yards during his final year on campus were the second-most of all tight ends in 2022, and his eight receiving TDs was also tied for second-most at the position. No college TE caught more passes last year than Kincaid who hauled in 70 of 93 targets for a ridiculous 75.3% catch rate.
With those numbers, Kincaid flashed the upside we desperately look for in fantasy football. From an analytics perspective, there’s a lot to like about Kincaid’s profile. According to our database and Production Profiles in the Dynasty Pass, NFL TE1s during their best college season have historically accounted for about 20% of their team’s receptions, 21% of their team’s yards, 30% of their team’s receiving TDs with a 26% Dominator Rating. Those thresholds aren’t the end-all-be-all, but college TEs who exceed those historical data points don’t grow on trees.
Kincaid’s numbers among those categories:
- Team Reception Share: 28%
- Share of Team Receiving Yards per Game: 30%
- Share of Team Receiving TDs: 30%
- Dominator Rating: 29%
Yes, please. Now, that’s all well and good, but there’s a second part of Kincaid’s profile that isn’t so sexy – the Breakout Age, which is defined as the age at which a TE first posts a 15%+ Dominator Rating. Using historical data, a breakout age for a TE before 20 years old is generally considered very good. Kincaid, who will turn 24 during his first NFL season, has a breakout age of 21.9 years old. Simply put, he’s an older prospect. This doesn’t mean he won’t be great in the NFL, but when you consider his complete profile, the age is definitely a discussion point.
|Height||Weight||Age||40-Yard Dash||Vertical||Three Cone|
|6′ 4″||246 lbs.||23.4||–||–||–|
Unfortunately, we won’t get athletic testing numbers from Kincaid at the NFL Scouting Combine as he recovers from a late-season injury. As of writing this article, it remains to be seen if Kincaid will be available to participate in Utah’s Pro Day on March 23.
Utah TE Dalton Kincaid, @MoveTheSticks’ top TE and No. 10 overall prospect, will not participate in drills at the Scouting Combine, source says. Kincaid suffered a small fracture in his back in the Utes’ final regular-season game and played through it in the Pac-12 title game.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 27, 2023
From a size perspective, Kincaid’s 6′ 4″ frame at almost 250 pounds helps him with his receiving game as he’s athletic and can high point the football. However, most NFL Draft scouts have commented that Kincaid lacks “play strength” which may limit his ability to contribute as a consistent blocker as an in-line tight end.
The Athletic’s Nate Tice wrote about Kincaid’s size in this article. Here’s what he had to say, “Since 2002, there have been 101 instances (from 38 players) of an NFL tight end recording 800-plus receiving yards in a single season. Only four of those 38 tight ends had a listed playing weight of 245 pounds or less (Owen Daniels, Jordan Reed, Dalton Schultz, and Kellen Winslow II). He also went on to say, “Kincaid is a talented player, but the weight makes him a bit of an outlier. Teams will have to be realistic with what he can and cannot accomplish in-line.”
Kincaid’s frame may be a negative factor for some NFL teams, especially when it comes to blocking and playing as a “traditional” in-line tight end. As a result, Kincaid’s play style is probably not for every NFL GM or coaching scheme, so this may be a team-dependent selection for whoever calls Kincaid’s name during the Draft in April.
What’s on Tape
Games viewed: USC (2022), Florida (2022), UCLA (2022), San Diego State (2022), Oregon (2021), Arizona State (2021)
1. Dalton Kincaid is a fluid pass catcher who looks natural in the receiving game.
Kincaid is largely considered the best receiving TE in the class, and that’s probably because he’s more of a WR than a traditional tight end. What stood out on tape when watching Kincaid is that he looks very comfortable in the receiving game, and he’s got an excellent catch radius to make difficult catches. This play against USC is a perfect example of the type of athlete Kincaid is – notice how he high-points it over the defender while making a leaping catch down the seam. Most NFL tight ends aren’t making these types of plays.
2. Kincaid knows how to find the soft spot in the zone.
In today’s game, pass catchers need to be able to win against both man and zone coverage. Kincaid certainly can do both, and when you watch him against zone, he seems to have a great understanding of when to cut his route short and sit down to create easy throws for his QB. From there, Kincaid knows how to get up field quickly and pick up yards after the catch. His 2.79 yards per route run against zone coverage was one of the best marks in the country a year ago.
3. Kincaid is a YAC machine.
On a recent episode of The Fantasy Footballers Podcast, Kyle pointed out that Yards per Route Run and Yards after the Catch (YAC) are predictive statistics that can help identify breakout tight ends in fantasy. Now granted, those numbers from his research are for NFL tight ends, not college prospects, but still, we want to target athletic tight ends coming out of college with the hopes that we land a difference-maker when that player gets to the NFL. Kincaid’s underlying metrics are strong.
Among NCAA tight ends with 25+ targets in 2022, Kincaid ranked:
- 2nd in Yards per Route Run (2.42)
- 2nd Yards after the Catch (397)
What’s NOT on Tape
1. Elite Run Blocking
We’ve already touched on this a bit, but blocking isn’t necessarily a strength for the TE out of Utah. This isn’t to say he’s not a willing blocker who doesn’t put in effort – he does. However, when you’re thinking about complete TEs who can do it all (think Gronk, Travis Kelce, etc.), Kincaid is probably several notches below those types of guys when it comes to his ability to make a difference in the blocking game.
Kincaid’s hands are excellent. Rarely does he body catch and on tape, I didn’t seen any drops. Per PFF, Kincaid had just two drops last year on 93 targets. Reliability is the name of the game when it comes to Kincaid’s receiving skills.
Dalton Kincaid may be an older prospect, but a lot of NFL mock drafts you read have him going in the first round. According to GrindingTheMocks, which sources mock drafts from around the industry, Kincaid’s expected draft position as of late February is 35.2, making him a fringe first-round selection at this point in the offseason. Should he get Round 1 NFL Draft capital to go along with a wonderful production profile, Kincaid is likely going to be someone who rises up dynasty rookie rankings over the next two months.
Kincaid’s game fits what we look for in fantasy – the ability to line up in the slot, run routes like a WR, consistently catch the ball, and the ability to use his athleticism to create after the catch. Because of these traits, I’ve seen a lot of comps for Kincaid that make sense – a more explosive Zach Ertz and Evan Engram, for example. What do these guys have in common? They’re essentially WRs playing the TE position. That’s what makes Kincaid so appealing as a prospect when it comes to fantasy football.
Like most TEs in fantasy, however, we need to temper expectations, especially with a rookie. Historical data shows that younger players at this position tend to take time to develop into consistent and reliable fantasy options, and as we’ve seen year after year, the position as a whole is unreliable behind the elite options.
That said, Kincaid’s ability to operate as a “move TE” fits today’s game, and if he lands with a team that features the position with a coaching scheme that understands how to maximize his talent, there’s certainly a path for him to become a top 12 option at fantasy’s weakest position.