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Narrative Street: How do rookie TEs really perform?

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 12: O.J. Howard #88 of the Alabama Crimson Tide turns up this reception against DeAndre Ward #28 and Dezmond Harris #46 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The NFL draft is on the horizon, and while most of us will get excited when a stud running back or wideout gets drafted, there’s typically not quite as much excitement when a tight end comes off the board.

But tight ends have been getting more and more important in fantasy football, and this year’s class features David Njoku, O.J. Howard, and others at the position with big fantasy upside. Will their landing spots make much of a difference in their rookie year?

The narrative: Rookie tight ends typically underperform from a fantasy perspective.

We typically don’t have a problem drafting rookie receivers or running backs in our fantasy leagues. But there’s a stigma attached to rookie quarterbacks and tight ends. Last week, we determined that you should avoid rookie quarterbacks for fantasy purposes. Is the narrative true for tight ends as well?

The findings

Like we did with quarterbacks, we examined all tight end production from the previous five seasons (since 2012). I compared rookies to second-year players, third-year players, etc., in terms of yards, touchdowns, catch rate, fantasy points, and more.

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