With a clear path to a huge role, can Evan Engram finish as the No. 1-scoring tight end in fantasy football this year?
After finishing as a top-five fantasy tight end as a rookie in 2017, Evan Engram fell short last year with just 45 receptions for 577 yards and three touchdowns. Of course he also missed five games, which dropped his raw numbers.
But closer look shows Engram increased his yards per catch, yards per target and catch rate fairly substantially in 2018 compared to his rookie season. He had at least 75 yards in each of the final four games last year, after returning from a hamstring injury, and finished as TE2 in standard and full-point PPR scoring over that closing stretch (22 receptions for 320 yards, on 31 targets).
Engram dealt with a recurrence of a hamstring issue during OTAs, and he barely played during the preseason. But there’s a clear opening for a big role. As part of ESPN’s “Bold Predictions” piece heading into the season, Giants’ beat writer Jordan Raanan predicted Engram will top 1,000-yards as the team’s passing game revolves around him and running back Saquon Barkley.
With the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. there’s a significant void in New York’s passing game. Golden Tate would have taken over some of those targets out of the gate, but he’s suspended for the first four games. So it’s there in a big way for Engram this year..
But can he finish as the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football for 2019?
Over his final 10 games of the 2017 season (Week 6-Week 16) , when Beckham was out, Evan Engram had 45 receptions on 81 targets for 522 yards and five touchdowns and was TE3 in full-point PPR. A better catch rate would have nice, but the target volume stands out.
The upper class of fantasy tight ends starts with Kelce and Ertz, with Kittle making it a trio last year. But Ertz may lose some looks to second-year tight end Dallas Goedert this year. Kittle’s yardage total last year (1,377) was an NFL single-season record for a tight end, which Kelce got close to himself (1,336).
Regression is in line to happen for all three, to whatever degree. Even with production gap between them and everyone else among tight ends, the difference between Kittle (TE3) and Eric Ebron (TE4) was just 2.3 fantasy points per game in full-point PPR. And there’s the case for waiting to draft a tight end.
Engram will have to stay healthy and take a pretty significant jump to finish as the top-scoring fantasy tight end this year, and of course there’s a substantial quarterback question with the either the remnants of Eli Manning or rookie Daniel Jones throwing the ball to him.
But combined what could be No. 1 wide receiver-like volume with his athleticism to work downfield and separate, and 90 catches for 1,100 yards is in play for Engram.
It will take the aforementioned regression (natural or otherwise) from Kelce, Ertz and Kittle, but the there’s no dismissing some percentage chance Engram will finish as the overall TE1 (especially in PPR).
A top-five finish at the position feels like the floor anyway, as a centerpiece option for a pass offense that stands to be chasing negative game scripts all season.