The tight end position is one of the most difficult in regard to transitioning from the college game to the NFL level. Not only do tight ends need to learn complex route schemes, but they are often asked to understand blocking in both the run and passing games. Considering all the variables, it’s extremely rare to see any rookie tight end break out.
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Some tight ends — such as George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz — broke out in their second seasons, but others needed even more time before they became useful fantasy assets. Austin Hooper, Darren Waller and Tyler Higbee all broke out in their third or fourth seasons. In fantasy football drafts, the elite tight ends come with high draft capital, and there are only so many of them. If you miss out at the beginning of your draft, it’s crucial that you snag one or two of these late-round targets who have shown the upside to suggest they can make the leap.
In this series of articles, I’m looking at the breakout potential at the tight end position with a focus on players entering their second, third and fourth seasons. I'll take a look at their current situations to see if they have a clear path to targets and then analyze what they've done in the NFL to this point to determine whether they've shown the upside to break out in 2020.
Underrated 2019 Campaign
Overshadowed by the Tyler Higbee hype train heading into 2020 fantasy football draft season, Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett quietly had a solid Year 3 going in 2019 before a knee injury knocked him out for Weeks 13-15. Over the first 12 weeks of the season, Everett ranked eighth in fantasy points per snap (0.21) among tight ends who played at least 50% of their team’s snaps, coming in at TE13 overall. On the season, he earned the seventh-best PFF receiving grade (78.9) among tight ends who saw at least 50 targets.