Let’s get this out of the way: No, you should not draft a Rookie TE.
Is that your sworn testimony today Mr. Strausberg?
Um….no. That’s too much of a blanket statement, scratch that. First off, if its the 12th round and you still need a TE? As Zach Rhode detailed, you could do far worse than taking a flier on O.J. Howard at his current ADP. And that’s a standard league. Moreover, let’s alter that to read that if you play in a deep league or a 2-TE league, I would absolutely draft some of the rookie TEs.
But let’s be clear on this. The number of TEs that were a Top 20 Fantasy TE option any of the last three years: Zero. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. That’s what we in the biz call a trend.
So proceed with extreme caution. However, should you still be contemplating it, let’s take a look at a few of them.
How About A First Round Rookie TE?
Evan Engram, NYG
I think the guys over at FNTSY said it well: Egram will help Eli Manning.
But that’s exactly the problem–Engram is going to do much more to help Eli Manning and the rest of the WR receiving corps than he will himself. As mentioned above, Engram is a little undersized and pardon me, but I prefer my TEs to be red zone targets.
65 catches for 926 yards and eight touchdowns this past year at Ole Miss is pretty good. A reasonable expectation is cutting that in half this year, and there are easily 20 TEs that can give you that production. I’d pass. But there is another TE that many rated above Engram: David Njoku.
David Njoku, CLE
I’m sorry Gary Barnidge owners, Njoku is going to be Cleveland’s top TE this year. That is certain.
Miami has been churning out Fantasy stud TEs for a while now. Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham are just two of the recent alumni to run roughshod over NFL secondaries.
Njoku had “only” 698 yards and eight touchdowns last year. However, many blame his quarterback for depressing his numbers and expect his numbers to be even better in the NFL. Of course, there are concerns about Cleveland’s QB this year too. But I’m not worried about his QB situation.
Njoku will be okay over the course of the season and have some huge weeks. But any given week, he’s too much risk. So I present to you Jason Witten, who you can get a round later and has not had less than 60 receptions or 650 yards since … wait for it … his rookie season.
But there are a number of rookies TEs who are definitely on MY radar.
Rookie TEs well worth the low cost
Jake Butt, DEN
Get those posterior headlines ready copy editors! Jake is going to kick some this year.
Butt’s draft stock fell due to an ACL tear he suffered during the Orange Bowl. But a healthy 6’6 250-pound who caught over 130 passes while at Michigan? Need I remind you the last TE that size who played for the Broncos and had injury questions? Things worked out pretty well for Julius Thomas, don’t you think? Like my buddy at the beach, keep your eyes out for Butt.
I say my buddy, because I’m more of a Legg man….
Jordan Leggett, NYJ
I know, I know, the Jets never have a good TE. Well, that ends now. You don’t suck when you catch 46 passes for 736 yards and seven touchdowns on the high powered Clemson offense.
Again, keep expectations low but the upside is high given new Jets OC John Morton’s plans:
New Jets TE Jordan Leggett said new Jets OC John Morton told him he “loves” tight ends and wants to make them a “go-to guy” in his scheme.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) May 6, 2017
But there is one rookie TE, who is way under the radar, that I know will end up on at least one of my teams.
Adam Shaheen, CHI
Quick, name the Bears top TE.
It’s obviously not the Black Unicorn who galloped across Solider Field over two years ago. The answer is a 33-year old coming off his best season yet of 47 receptions for 486 receiving yards. And for the record, Zach Miller suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his right foot, which happens to be the second time in three years. No wonder the Bears took Shaheen! His 6’6 height and 33.5 wingspan helped explain why he had 16 TDs. He’ll be impossible to cover with smaller backs, but he’s extremely fast for his size as well.
The knock on Shaheen is that he does not block as well. However, I have yet to see a Fantasy league that rewards tight ends for blocking prowess. Shaheen is a very sneaky pick in a dynasty league and someone I would keep on my radar once the season starts. After all, the “Baby Gronk” moniker below might be accurate as Shaheen becomes this year’s most productive rookie TE.
Want to read about more rookies? Here’s what we think: