Over the past few years, Tyler Higbee split touches with fellow Rams tight end Gerald Everett. Everett had slightly outproduced Higbee in their careers going into last season and took the starting role in Week 5. He had more targets than Higbee through Week 10, but in Week 11, he was questionable with a wrist injury and received a mere 26 percent of snaps on the field. He only got 33 percent of the snaps in Week 12, then was out for the next three weeks with a knee injury.
Higbee took advantage in Weeks 13-17 with snap totals of 85 percent or higher. He posted between 18 and 24 PPR fantasy points in all five weeks as the starter. He put up 21.4 points per game, way higher than the TE2 in those weeks, Travis Kelce (16.8 PPG). He was the best tight end in football by a mile during that span. The craziest part of his stat line is that he only had two touchdowns on his 56 targets, a 3.6 percent rate. That suggests positive regression!
With Everett coming back from injury, you can’t expect Higbee to have 11.2 targets per game like he did in the final five weeks of 2019. But you can expect him to have fully earned the starting job, having received a four-year contract extension at the start of last season, while Gerald Everett is set to be a free agent in 2021. There is the danger of the Rams changing their offense to be less 12-personnel heavy, but that style worked well last year in making up for their weak offensive line, which hasn’t improved.
Higbee hasn’t proven that he can produce for a full season yet, but I don’t doubt his abilities for a second. He puts up numbers as the starter, and for the TE8 off the board, you’re getting a steal. Unlike Engram and Henry, he carries top-three upside, which he showed quite clearly with his production last year.
Risk: Rams could use less 12-personnel and/or Higbee splits major touches with Gerald Everett. I doubt these will happen, but it’s certainly possible.
Upside: TE3, possible if he keeps up just 75 percent of his production from Weeks 13-17 last year.
Verdict: DRAFT. Higbee has huge upside for a seventh-round pick. You need to take chances late in the draft, so why not take a chance on TE1 overall production?
In conclusion, I have these three mid-tier tight ends ranked as so: Higbee, Engram, Henry. It’s all about upside at this point in the draft, which is why Higbee is the best option. His ceiling isn’t capped like the others. He also doesn’t come with the same injury risk. Draft Higbee with confidence in the seventh-round. If you draft Engram or Henry, expect a TE1 while healthy, but know that they don’t have elite upside.
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