Best Fantasy Fit for the Top 5 Free Agent Tight Endsby Mike Fanelli March 14, 2021 0 comments
The 2021 NFL offseason officially kicks off on March 17, when free agency begins. Most years, there is a deal or two done within the first 15 minutes. However, with the salary cap decrease, deals may be a bit slower to happen this year. While each team’s fan base is hopeful their team is active in free agency, fantasy football players are anxious to see who signs with what team as it impacts the player’s fantasy value. In a four-part series, I give the best fantasy landing spot for the top five free agents at each position. Last up is tight ends.
I didn’t include restricted free agents in this article as they usually end up back with their current teams. Also, salary cap situations did play a role in the pairings. As much as everyone wants to see the best free agent wide receiver end up with the Green Bay Packers, their cap situation guarantees it won’t happen. So without further ado, let’s dive into it.
Hunter Henry → Los Angeles Chargers
After playing last season on the franchise tag, the Chargers didn’t place it on Henry this year. As much as the fantasy nerds want Donald Parham to become a fantasy star, he won’t. Furthermore, with Justin Herbert under center, there isn’t a better spot for Henry than with the Chargers. In Los Angeles, Henry doesn’t have much competition for targets outside of Keenan Allen. Furthermore, Henry has averaged 10.4 or more fantasy points per game in each of his last two seasons. If Herbert takes the next step in his development in 2021, expect Henry to finish as a top-five tight end.
Jonnu Smith → Jacksonville Jaguars
Entering last season, Smith was a popular breakout candidate, but he didn’t turn into a weekly starter. However, he did have a career-high eight touchdowns and 9.3 fantasy points per game. Staying in Tennessee wouldn’t be the worst spot for him, but the Titans have a target monster in A.J. Brown, and the focal point of the offense is Derrick Henry. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are building a young talented offense but lack a weapon at tight end. Smith would be the perfect addition as he can be used in several ways and is a threat in the screen game. Smith would have a real chance to lead the team in targets next season in Jacksonville, which could lead to the first top-five fantasy finish of his career.
Gerald Everett → Carolina Panthers
Playing for the Los Angeles Rams, Everett never got a chance to break out as the passing attack flowed through Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Despite being low on the passing pecking order, Everett had a career-high 41 catches for 417 yards in 2020. His ability to play in multiple roles, including isolated outside, should attract a smart offensive-minded coach. The Panthers need to upgrade at tight end as Ian Thomas has been a bust so far in his career. While Everett isn’t the same type of player Curtis Samuel is, Matt Rhule can find ways to draw up plays for Everett similar to Samuel last season. In Carolina, Everett would turn into a weekly streaming option with plenty of upside given the offense.
Rob Gronkowski → Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Unless something dramatically changes, Gronk will only play for one quarterback. With Tom Brady under contract for next season, Gronk will be back in Tampa Bay. Could Gronk’s fantasy value take a tick upward if he signed with a tight end needy team with more targets available? Possibly. However, we’ve never seen him work with a quarterback other than Brady. While Gronk averaged a career-low 9.3 fantasy points per game last season, he still finished the year as the TE8. His days as a plug-and-play tight end are over. However, if the Buccaneers move on from O.J. Howard or Cameron Brate in the offseason, Gronk could turn into a weekly streaming option.
Jared Cook → New England Patriots
Rumors are Cook might retire, but if he plays in 2021, it won’t be with the New Orleans Saints, thanks to their cap situation. However, the Patriots would be an excellent fit for Cook. They lack proven weapons in the passing game, and while they spent two third-round picks on tight ends last season, neither is ready to take over as the starter. After averaging 12 or more fantasy points per game in back-to-back seasons, Cook averaged only 8.5 per game last season. However, he had his third straight season with six or more touchdowns in 2020. If the Patriots have a young quarterback under center next season, Cook could turn into their security blanket. In that situation, he would become a streaming option in PPR leagues with weekly upside.