There has been a flurry of moves this offseason as teams try to replicate the success that the Rams and Bengals achieved after being aggressive last offseason. A lot of tight ends have ended up on new teams this offseason, which is sure to change the fantasy tight end landscape. Here are the biggest free agency losers at the tight end position.
2022 Free Agency Losers: Tight Ends
Dynasty GMs with Noah Fant on their rosters briefly rejoiced after the Russell Wilson trade until it was revealed that Fant was headed to Seattle as part of the deal. There was optimism that Fant could see a quarterback upgrade this offseason after three mediocre seasons, but he now faces another year of catching passes from another ex-Bronco, Drew Lock, or an uninspiring alternative in journeyman Geno Smith. Even with the possibility of Seattle adding a rookie quarterback upgrade during the draft, the Seahawks have perennially been below league-average in pass rate under head coach Pete Carroll. On top of that, Seattle recently re-signed Will Dissly to a three-year, $24 million extension. The combination of a run-heavy offense along with the presence of Dissly severely caps Fant’s projected target volume and fantasy ceiling, making him one of the biggest free agency losers at tight end. At this point, Fant is quickly becoming just another athletic tight end who’s failed to live up to lofty fantasy expectations and should be sold for an early second-round rookie pick or more.
Over the last two seasons, Darren Waller has consistently been among the top three tight ends in targets per game, having averaged 8.5 and 9.1 targets per game in 2021 and 2020, respectively. Unfortunately, Las Vegas’s blockbuster deal to acquire Davante Adams this offseason is likely to derail Waller’s previously steady target volume. While Adams’s presence could increase the Raiders’ overall offensive efficiency, Waller’s fantasy production has largely relied upon volume. It’s hard to project for a significant increase in touchdowns for Waller either with Adams also a dangerous red-zone target. Additionally, Waller will turn 30 years old this year, which puts his dynasty value on a downward trajectory. Any more missed time in 2022 due to injury could drop Waller’s value into the second-round rookie pick range for the foreseeable future. He’s still a fine top-10 fantasy tight end for contending teams in 2022, but it’s difficult to project elite fantasy production for Waller, and he should be a sell candidate for rebuilding teams for any first-round rookie pick or more, especially for any 2023 first.
Last year, Mike Gesicki saw the fourth-most targets and the fifth-most receptions among tight ends, which resulted in him finishing as the no. 8 fantasy tight end in PPR scoring and the no. 14 tight end in points per game. Gesicki re-signing in Miami after the hire of Mike McDaniel was a massive win with a projected increase in overall offensive efficiency. However, the Dolphins’ trade for Tyreek Hill figures to significantly decrease Gesicki’s projected target share for 2022, putting him among the free agency losers at the tight end position. With two talented wide receivers in Hill and Jaylen Waddle plus a projected decline in overall passing volume with McDaniel implementing an offense that revolves around a zone running scheme like the one in San Francisco, there’s not much target upside for Gesicki. Like Waller, the addition of an alpha wide receiver caps Gesicki’s fantasy ceiling for 2022, though Gesicki still has long-term upside and should be a buy at the price of a mid second-round rookie pick or less.
There’s been some latent hype on Donald Parham since he joined the Chargers in 2020. Parham is a former undrafted free agent out of Stetson who subsequently flashed in the XFL before making his way back into the NFL. At 6’8, it’s easy to envision Parham as a monstrous red-zone threat, but a consistent role has yet to materialize for him over the last two seasons in Los Angeles. During the 2021 offseason, the Chargers signed Jared Cook to a one-year deal and then proceeded to draft Tre McKitty in the third round. This offseason, any hopes for a Parham breakout have been subdued by Los Angeles’s signing of Gerald Everett to a two-year, $12 million contract. It’s fairly clear at this point that the Chargers don’t view Parham as more than a part-time contributor on offense, so dynasty GMs should sell for any late-round rookie pick or even drop him in shallower formats to make room for a different upside stash.
Following his trade from Carolina to Jacksonville last season, Dan Arnold saw 6.7 targets per game in his first six starts prior to his MCL sprain. From Week 5 to Week 10, Arnold averaged 5.0 receptions for 57 receiving yards per game, good enough to make him the no. 8 fantasy tight end in PPR formats over that span. There was some hope that he might be able to replicate that kind of volume-based production in 2022, but the Jaguars signed Evan Engram to a one-year deal instead, eliminating any upside for Arnold’s involvement as a receiver. While Engram has dealt with his fair share of injuries over the last few seasons, making Arnold a worthwhile stash in deeper leagues, the addition of Engram undoubtedly puts Arnold among the big free agency losers at tight end.
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