Evan Engram: Not Your Typical Rookie Tight End

On April 27th, NFL fans saw a group of talented tight ends selected in the first round of the draft, one of them being Evan Engram out of Ole Miss. In the past, rookie tight ends post poor fantasy seasons which made fantasy owners hesitant to take Engram in their fantasy drafts. Why risk the pick when first-year tight ends typically fail to produce adequate statistics? Engram was brought onto an offense with plenty of weapons – Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard – but his pass-catching talent could not be overlooked.

Now with the loss of Beckham, Marshall and Dwayne Harris for the rest of the 2017 season and Shepard dealing with an injury of his own, Engram is believed to be the main target for Eli Manning for the rest of the season. It’s unfortunate to see superstars lost for the season but it gives younger players the opportunity to show their talents and make plays for their team.

In my opinion, Engram is a must-start tight end in every fantasy league. His season totals are the complete opposite of what we’ve seen from rookie tight ends in previous years. Here’s my take on Engram and why I have confidence in his abilities given the situation in New York.

Rookie Tight Ends

Most fantasy owners can attest that the tight end position is very inconsistent outside of players like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce on a yearly basis. I mean, Mercedes Lewis is currently a top-20 fantasy tight end with 25.6 points on the season. Outside of catching four passes for 62 yards and three touchdowns in week three, he has one catch on the season. Tight ends are laughable in fantasy football. It gets even worse for rookies over the years.

Last season, Chargers’ rookie Hunter Henry led the league in touchdown receptions by a tight end with eight. He totaled 36 receptions, 478 yards, and eight touchdowns and was a pleasant surprise to many, but he was the league’s TE18 in PPR scoring and TE11 in standard. His season wasn’t as good as it was made out to be. This season, rookie tight ends are following this trend again when we look at O.J. Howard and David Njoku. For the Buccaneers, Howard is overshadowed by a top-3 tight end in Cameron Brate and has only five catches for the season. Njoku is the clear starter for Cleveland but doesn’t have a quarterback to throw him the ball. He is an athletic freak who has contributed three touchdown catches on the season but has been limited to 14 total catches. Evan Engram has out-shined not only his fellow first-round tight end draft picks but also projected breakout players like Eric Ebron (TE36), Martellus Bennett, and Kyle Rudolph (TE10).

On the season Evan Engram has 24 catches, 282 yards and two touchdowns in an offense that was riddled with talent. In every game except for his no-catch performance against the Chargers, Engram has caught at least four passes and 44 yards. In those games, he has averaged 4.8 catches, 56.4 yards and 0.4 touchdowns making him the TE5 for the season.

Current Tight End Rankings

  1. Rob Gronkowski, 401 yards and four touchdowns, 64.10 fantasy points
  2. Zach Ertz, 405 yards and four touchdowns, 62.50 fantasy points
  3. Cameron Brate 281 yards and four touchdowns, 52.10 fantasy points
  4. Travis Kelce, 397 total yards and two touchdowns, 51.70 fantasy points
  5. Evan Engram, 282 yards and two touchdowns, 40.20 fantasy points

Information regarding these rankings is from NFL Fantasy which is available here.

Outside of the first four names on this list, the tight ends are pretty pitiful, but Engram is doing enough to make a fantasy impact. He averages 8.04 points per game in standard leagues and 12.84 in PPR leagues. His usage and scoring should begin to increase due to the aforementioned injury plague that is affecting the Giants.

What Sets Engram Apart?

Evan Engram is essentially a huge wide receiver who excels in pass-catching situations and isn’t required to be a threatening run blocker. He’s 6’3” and 240 pounds but also has great speed from the tight end position. His natural hands allow him to be extremely versatile in the Giants’ offense. His versatility will be valuable moving forward without Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall.

Beckham and Marshall combined for 74 targets while Sterling Sheppard has also been targeted 29 times in the 2017 season. Evan Engram is the most talented pass catcher remaining on the Giants roster, and as Eli Manning becomes more confident throwing Engram the ball, his potential will soon begin to skyrocket. In a week 6 matchup against the Denver defense, he caught five of Eli’s 11 completions for 82 yards and a touchdown. With the help of a more balanced run game with Orleans Darkwa and the lack of experience on the outside at wide receiver, Engram essentially becomes the Giants’ WR1, filling the role of the most targeted weapon in the offense.

Odell Beckham Jr. has averaged 10.6 targets a game throughout his career. Those targets must now be distributed among the rest of the offense. Beckham was also the main red zone target for Manning leaving touchdown upside on the table for the rookie tight end. Engram is about to become a force to be reckoned with in all fantasy football formats because of his added potential for volume. He is a must-start TE1 in all leagues moving forward.

Any question, comments or concerns? Come talk with me on twitter @DJFezler_TFR and be sure to follow @fantasyreport_ for articles, rankings, and all things fantasy football.