Value is a measure of performance vs. availability. It’s
a term we hear often around the NFL Draft every year, and certainly
finding the best value is the goal of many a fantasy owner every
summer. Most draft guides and fantasy rankings use average draft
position (ADP) as a measure of value, giving owners an idea of
how the fantasy world views various players in relation to their
As someone who spent a fair amount of time in an actual NFL draft
room, I can tell you that value drives the board and is defined
by production. The trick is finding those “sleepers”
who will hopefully outperform their value, and avoiding the high
draft picks who don’t measure up to expectations. Determining
the how and why of each player’s situation can go a long
way towards making the right pick.
Here are the TEs I expect to outperform their ADPs and which
I expect to fall short.
The Case for Kmet Being Undervalued: In 2021,
Kmet ranked 8th in targets (93) and 12th in receiving yards (612)
among NFL TEís.
The Case Against Kmet Being Undervalued: Over
33 career games, Kmet has averaged less than 3.0 fantasy points
per game and has just two touchdown receptions, none in 2021.
The Verdict: Kmetís story really has more
to do with whatís going on around him than with his own
ability. From the jump he has always been an athletic, 6-6, 260-pound
pass catcher with reliable hands and a willingness to compete
for the ball. He just has not had a lot of opportunity, but this
year may be different.
The first positive is that veteran Jimmy Graham is gone and no
longer stealing targets. The second is that QB Justin Fields should
make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. Neither of these young
playmakers will be in Matt Nagyís offense this season, which
featured only 31 red zone passes all last season (only five of
which were completed). New Bears OC Luke Getsy has tightened up
Fieldsí mechanics, shortened his release, and helped him
improve his accuracy. Fields will also get to make greater use
of his athleticism, making plays with his legs in space and making
throws on the run.
Kmet will not only be the starter, but Getsy figures to use the
former Notre Dame star in multiple roles, lining him up all over
the field, which should give a jolt to his target share. Itís
reasonable to think that Kmet could see 100-120 targets, including
more red zone opportunities in this new system. Just five TDís
and a modest increase in catches and yards could make him a TE1
in 12-team leagues. For a guy whoís trending as TE16, thatís
The Case for Okwuegbunam Being Undervalued:
He takes over as Denverís TE1 in 2022 after he caught 33
of 40 targets for 330 yards and two scores in just 13 games as
a backup a season ago.
The Case Against Okwuegbunam Being Undervalued:
Is he a one-hit wonder? Prior to 2021 he posted just 11 catches
as a rookie and only 26 receptions as a junior at Missouri before
declaring for the draft.
The Verdict: With Noah
Fant going to Seattle in the Russell
Wilson trade, there are suddenly 68 additional receptions
to be accounted for in Denverís offense as Okwuegbunam steps into
the TE1 role. And speaking of Wilson, he should be a significant
upgrade over 2021 signal caller Drew
Lock. In addition to all the tools Wilson brings to the table,
think about all the TEís that he made household names during his
time with the Seahawks Ė Zach Miller, Luke
Graham, and even guys like Nick
Vannett, Will Dissley, and an aging Greg Olson.
Okwuegbunam is big (6-5, 258), with 4.4 speed. He can stretch
the seam and give Wilson a vertical threat down the middle of
the field but is also a savvy red zone target who led the SEC
with 11 TDís in nine games as a freshman at Missouri. With
a full starterís workload, improved play at QB, with a guy
who loves to throw to the TE, and plenty of skilled receivers
around him drawing coverage, I think Okwuegbunam could double
his 2021 production, which would put him squarely in the TE1 discussion.
The Case for Brate Being Undervalued: He has
produced before. Brate caught 24 touchdowns in the four seasons
prior to Tom Bradyís arrival and had at least 30 receptions
in each of those four seasons and averaging over 10.5 yards per
The Case Against Brate Being Undervalued: He
hasnít done it recently. A formidable red zone weapon in
the past, he has just six touchdowns over the last two seasons,
and the Bucs have long seemed determined to replace him.
The Verdict: Anyone who has followed any of
my NFC South reports over the past 15
months or so knows that Iím a Brate fan. This guy was a difference
maker for me, helping me win a couple leagues I was in with his
8-TD coming out party in 2016. Iíve had him on my team on and
off ever since. He followed that 2016 season with six more scores
in both 2017 and 2018, and another four in 2019 while splitting
time with former 1st round pick O.J.
Howard (who is no longer with the team by the way). Then Gronk
showed up and Tom Brady just kept feeding his boy. But when Gronkowski
couldnít stay healthy in 2021, there was old reliable Brate pulling
in four touchdowns and attracting 57 targets in very limited snaps.
So why do I think things will change this year? Iím not
so sure Gronk is coming back (though a lot of people seem to think
thatís the play here), and if he does, itís not going
to be at the beginning of the season. The Bucs drafted Cade Otten,
a talented receiving TE, but still a rookie, coming off ankle
surgery, who missed all or most of the teamís Spring work.
Then they signed Kyle Rudolph. Really?? In a ďdownĒ
year as Gronkowskiís backup, Brate still bested Rudolph
last season in targets, receptions and touchdowns, and Rudolph
hasnít even eclipsed 30 catches the last two years.
If itís an honest competition, I donít think either
of those guys can outplay Brate. He returns to TE1 in Tampa, Brady
is forced to throw to him, and he lights up the scoreboard with
his red zone talents.
The Case for Kittle Being Overvalued: While
being drafted as TE3 in early mocks, he was only 7th amongst NFL
TEís in targets, 6th in catches, and 8th in TDís in
The Case Against Kittle Being Overvalued: In
three of the last four seasons, heís posted at least 70
catches and five touchdowns. He has two 1,000-yard seasons, and
in that same four-year span he has totaled 18 TDís and 12
The Verdict: No one here is saying that Kittle isnít a
fantastic playmaker when heís on the field. The problem
is that he canít seem to stay on the field. Heís played
a full 16-game season just once in his five-year career, and not
since 2018. Heís also streaky. Last season, while he had
some remarkable production (back-to-back games of 181 and 151
yards come to mind), he amassed at least 50 yards in just one
of his last six games, and had just one touchdown in his last
seven games. Maybe some owners can tolerate that. I canít.
A great player who is going to come off the board that high has
got to give me consistency along with the big play strikes.
Unfortunately, Kittle was on the sidelines again this Spring
with a calf injury, Jimmy
Garoppolo is no longer his QB, and heíll be working with a
pseudo rookie in Trey
Lance who will be getting his first significant playing time
behind center on a week-to-week basis. There are too many questions
for me, and I see Kittle taking a step back. Heís still a TE1
play, but I can think of a few other players Iíd consider as TE3
The Case for Waller Being Overvalued: The knee
injury Waller suffered on Thanksgiving might explain why he finished
2021 ranked 9th in targets, 6th in receptions and 45th in touchdown
catches. But his 7.1 fantasy points per game were also 9th, making
him a tough sell at TE5.
The Case Against Waller Being Overvalued: Playing
on a knee that likely wasnít fully healed, Waller still
caught nine of 21 targets for 98 yards in the regular season finale
and the Raidersí playoff game against the Bengals. Fully
healthy, itís reasonable to think he could be back to top
form in 2022.
The Verdict: Waller has two 1,000-yard receiving seasons on his
resume, and if he hadnít been sidelined with his knee injury,
would have likely been close to a third in 2021. He has been an
almost a guaranteed 100+ target receiver, but Iím worried
that the upgrades the Raiders have made at the skill positions
may leave too few balls to go around. Davante Adams is going to
be WR1 and the first option in the passing game at all times,
Hunter Renfrow has become a high-volume possession receiver week
in and week out, and RBís Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake both
ranked among the top 35 RBís in the league in targets, receptions,
and receiving yards a year ago. Waller may have a great year,
and the offensive mind of Josh McDaniels may bring out the TEís
best season yet. But heís fighting a lot of competition
in an effort to just maintain his production level. Sure, all
those weapons may yield some favorable coverage at times, but
there are TEís just as talented who will see a target share
much more in line with TE5 than what Waller will see.
The Case for Hockenson Being Overvalued: The
Lions top receiving option has not recorded a single 100-yard
game over the last two seasons and posted just two games of double-digit
targets in 2021.
The Case Against Hockenson Being Overvalued:
Hockenson nearly matched his best season of his career in 2021
despite playing just 12 games. In 2022, he returns with a significantly
upgraded group of skill players.
The Verdict: This offseason the Lions added
veteran WR D.J.
Chark and 1st round pick Jameson
Williams to go along with 2021 breakout receiver Amon-Ra
St. Brown. In addition, RB DíAndre
Swift ranked among the Top 5 RBís in the league in 2021 in
targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Based on past performance,
itís not unreasonable to think that Brown, Chark, Swift, and Williams
could account for over 400 targets. QB Jared
Goff attempted less than 500 passes a season ago, and though
the offense attempted over 100 more passes than rushing attempts
in 2021, that had a lot to do with them playing catch-up most
of the time. HC Dan Campbell wants to run the ball.
Could Hockenson still turn in a career year? Yes. He had 84 targets
in 12 games. But with all this talent around him, he might not
see a lot more than those 84 in 16 games. The Steelers Pat
Freiermuth, Arizonaís Zach
Ertz, and even New Englandís Hunter
Henry, Washingtonís Logan
Thomas, and Chicagoís Cole
Kmet could have more opportunities to catch the ball.