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2020 Breakout Tight End Candidates

Last week, we looked at breakout wide receiver candidates. Now we’re moving onto 2020 breakout tight end candidates. With breakout running backs and wide receivers, the breakout parameters included players past pick 60. However, with tight ends, there are typically only five tight ends drafted within the first 60 picks. The goal is to find potential league winners with these 2020 breakout tight end candidates. 

After the first handful of tight ends, we find a big glob from TE6 – TE20 that shuffles around in the rankings. Sometimes sleepers and breakouts overlap with the tight end group, so we will breakdown the parameters. With that said, let’s dive into the 2020 breakout tight end candidates. 

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2020 Breakout Tight End Candidates

Breakout Tight End Parameters

  1. Outside of the top-12 in ADP
  2. Ability to jump five spots (e.g., TE13 to TE8)

Defining breakout tight end candidates is a bit trickier. In mid-July, I wrote about a few sleeper tight end candidates. There is overlap in the definitions of sleepers/breakouts, but I’m typically looking in the double-digit rounds for sleepers. Coincidentally, these breakout tight end candidates also have an ADP in the later rounds. All of these players can jump five spots in ADP the following year, so from TE13 to TE8.

My Top 2020 Breakout Tight End Candidate – Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins

In the second half of 2019, Mike Gesicki took off and finished the season with 89 targets, 51 receptions, 570 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. Gesicki finished as the 11th ranked tight end in total fantasy points and 14th in fantasy points per game. As an elite athlete, he reached career highs in his second year in the league. All of his NFL Draft workout metrics rank in the 95th percentile and above. Around the time when Gesicki took off, Preston Williams suffered a torn ACL. Additionally, the Dolphins traded away Kenyan Drake a week earlier, which adds to the context.

Mike Gesicki Workout Metrics - 2020 Breakout Tight End

Why Gesicki is the Top 2020 Breakout Tight End Candidate

During the second half of 2019 (week 9-17), Gesicki averaged seven targets, four receptions, and 46 receiving yards with four total touchdowns. Although that may not scream breakout tight end, he averaged ten fantasy points per game during that stretch with five top-10 finishes. Outside of the top five tight ends, there’s a large chunk of tight ends from TE5 – TE20, and Gesicki stands out with breakout potential. The Dolphins ranked 4th with 42.1 team pass plays per game, and the high volume passing game should continue into 2020. Also, Gesicki’s 15.3% target share (No. 16) and 13.9% hog rate (No. 12) both provide hope for my top 2020 breakout tight end. 

Gesicki’s 147.1 ADP makes him the 15th tight end drafted on Fantasy Football Calculator with the potential to finish inside the top-10. On Fantrax ADP, Gesicki goes earlier as the 13th tight end with a 126.1 ADP, but still a perfect ADP range. Although the return of Preston Williams will take away targets, Gesicki has the athleticism and explosiveness to take a step forward. Another caveat to consider is the starting quarterback. If Ryan Fitzpatrick remains the starter, then that should further cement Gesicki as a 2020 breakout tight end.

Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz consistently targeted Dallas Goedert throughout the season with the numerous injuries for the Eagles receivers. Goedert and Zach Ertz led the Eagles in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Outside of the tight ends and running backs, the 2020 Eagles receivers include Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Jalen Reagor. Jeffery projects to start on the PUP list, and reports from camp say Jackson looks fast as ever after core muscle surgery. Reagor is an exciting rookie with a promising college prospect profile, but inconsistent college production. 

Goedert’s 15.6% target share (No. 13) and 12.6% hog rate (No. 17) may take a slight step down with Reagor and a healthy Jackson. However, I expect Goedert to receive continued involvement in the offense. Last year, the Eagles ran 52% of their plays in 12-Personnel that ranked first according to Sharp Football Stats, meaning they often ran two-tight end sets. It seems unusual to target a backup tight end, but the Eagles offense tends to be tight end friendly. Under Doug Pederson as head coach, Zach Ertz finished first or second in targets from 2016-2019. With a 158.4 ADP, Goedert is the 20th tight end drafted. That’s sweet value for a 2020 breakout tight end candidate that ranked 10th in total fantasy points and 11th in fantasy points per game last year. 

Blake Jarwin, TE, Dallas Cowboys

The undrafted fourth-year tight end, Blake Jarwin, leads the tight end depth chart for the Cowboys. Last year, he received 41 targets, 31 receptions, 365 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. It’s not fair to look at the opportunity metrics for Jarwin since veteran Jason Witten led Cowboys tight ends in targets last year. With the limited targets, there are a few efficiency metrics that provide hope for Jarwin as a 2020 breakout tight end. Jarwin ranked 12th with an 11.8 yards per reception, 6th with 8.9 yards per target, and 7th with 2.09 fantasy points per target. 

The Cowboys have the second most available targets with 190 coming into 2020. With so many targets available, Jarwin should easily double his 2019 targets and lead the Cowboys tight end group. His 153.9 ADP makes him the 17th tight end drafted. Outside of 2018, when Ezekiel Elliot led the team in targets, Jason Witten typically ranked as the second or third targeted option. I expect Jarwin to fill the void of Witten at tight end. As I mentioned in my breakout wide receivers article, the Cowboys should stay balanced on offense with the potential for increased passing with Mike McCarthy as head coach. Jarwin fits the sleeper/breakout tight end category and is worth a flier in most leagues. 

Honorable Mention:

Ian Thomas, TE, Carolina Panthers

Whenever Greg Olsen missed time, Ian Thomas typically produced well. Although it’s a small sample, let’s look at his production, particularly during the games Olsen missed. In week 13 of 2018, Olsen left the game due to injury and then ended up missing the rest of the 2018 season. From week 13-17, Thomas received 32 targets, 25 receptions, 246 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. In 2019, Olsen missed less time (week 14-15), and Thomas received 13 targets, seven receptions, 80 receiving yards, and one touchdown. 

With new coaches, Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, there are reasons to hesitate in drafting Thomas. However, his 160.5 ADP as the 20th tight end drafted makes him a draft value. We also expect the offense to improve over time since Rhule is an offensive-minded coach. Thomas is a sleeper tight end with breakout potential.

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