Fantasy Football Mailbag: On Breece Hall, tight end draft strategy and much more

Questions. Fantasy football managers have a lot of them … especially heading into a season with so many old faces in new places. I addressed 32 of the most pressing FF quandaries in my recent series. But there’s still more digging to do.

Here are my thoughts on some of fantasy’s most vexing conundrums:

When is the finish line for drafting a tight end?

Dallas Goedert.

He’s currently the seventh TE coming off the board in the late sixth/early seventh round of 12-team exercises. Goedert’s target total went up after Zach Ertz was traded, as he averaged nearly six looks per game from Weeks 7 through 17. Goedert finished his third pro season as fantasy’s TE9 overall, excelling after the catch, but underwhelming in the red zone (4 TDs). His volume figures to take a hit with A.J. Brown joining the squad, but his opportunities in the red area appear poised for positive regression. He’s the Yahoo consensus TE8.

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The aforementioned Ertz and Mike Gesicki are being drafted approximately two rounds after Goedert.

Ertz certainly presents intriguing upside with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games of the season. The former Eagle posted top-13 fantasy numbers and recorded a minimum of six looks in six of the seven games in which Nuk was sidelined.

Gesicki, on the other hand, faces a different challenge. He endured as a slot-based safety valve for Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, recording the highest slot rate (52.4%) at the position and running nearly 29 routes per game (TE3). Despite drawing 111 looks, however, the former Penn State standout managed to find the end zone just twice. The addition of Tyreek Hill and the further emergence of Jaylen Waddle figure to depress Gesicki’s volume but could allow him some breathing room in the red area of the field.

Will the New York Jets' rookie running back live up to expectations?

I’m bullish on Breece Hall and have been regularly drafting him in the fourth round (even scooped him in the Scott Fish Bowl!). Highly productive in college (3,941 rushing yards over his three years as Cyclone), Hall’s do-it-all skill set figures to translate at the pro level.

Running Back Breece Hall #20 of the New York Jets has fantasy potential
Breece Hall has real fantasy potential in Year 1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The fact that the Jets moved up to the top of the second round to grab him (especially given the running back market) demonstrates their commitment to his likely usage. It also gives us a clue about their potential misgivings regarding Michael Carter’s ability to carry the load.

Hall may not be attached to a lit offense or a proven QB (for the record, neither was Najee Harris and he managed to close out his rookie effort as FF’s RB4), but he is in line for 14-15 carries per contest. That sort of volume — along with a clean bill of health — is hard to find outside of the top 15 players at the position. He makes for a solid RB2, or anchor RB for enthusiasts mulling a modified Zero RB approach.

Will drafters have to deal with (Kyle) Shanahan-igans again?

It’s always muddy. But clearer than you think.

Elijah Mitchell is poised to lead the backfield with Jeff Wilson as the team’s reported RB2. The duo shared the field for five games from Weeks 10 through 18 in 2021. In three of those five contests, Wilson recorded ZERO attempts while Mitchell never saw fewer than 21 carries. That’s not much of a timeshare.

Kyle Shanahan has a type. And Mitchell — who is an explosive cut-and-go runner with soft hands — fits the mold. Shanny has alluded to load management before … and he’s never been able to follow through. It’s a fine idea, in theory, to limit a player who’s suffered from durability issues due to the volatility of the game, but the game (particularly the RB position) is inherently volatile.

Trey Lance figures to vulture some touchdowns, but that’s more of a hit to Wilson’s value than Mitchell’s (Eli recorded just three goal line carries in 2021). The addition of Tyrion Davis-Price and his ability as a north-south runner appears to be insurance for Wilson, rather than a threat to Mitchell.

Eli investors should assume he’ll miss at least four games … while also posting top-15 numbers when on the field.

FF: 1,017 rushing yards, 6 rushing TDs and 28 catches for 196 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

Will a Steelers quarterback elevate the offense in 2022?

Were you this worried last year? Because, apparently, you should have been.

Ben Roethlisberger recorded an abysmal 6.2 YPA (QB30) and 68.7 percent True Completion Percentage (QB24) in 2021. Regardless, Diontae Johnson closed out the year as fantasy’s WR9 overall and Najee Harris was FF’s fourth most productive player at the RB position.

Are we sure that Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett is that much worse than a late-career Big Ben?

Volume and talent figure to carry both Johnson and Harris to upper-tier fantasy production again in 2022. They are the Yahoo consensus WR15 and RB6.

Should Mike Evans be a first-round draft pick?

Kevin, bless you for not getting swept away with the Julio Jones hype.

Mike Evans is one of the most underrated fantasy stars in the league. The man has NEVER gone under 1,000 yards in his entire career. He’s also recorded double-digit touchdowns in four of his eight years as a pro. And two of those campaigns came in 2020 and 2021 with Tom Brady under center.

He’s not as peppered as most No. 1 WRs (WR25 with an average of approximately seven looks per game in back-to-back efforts), but he is the king of the high-value opportunities (19 red-zone targets in two consecutive campaigns with TB12). That’s the risk in drafting Evans. Investors are relying on his ability to convert in the red area, which doesn’t provide consistent top-10 production on a week-to-week basis.

Drafting Evans in the first round would require taking him ahead of Davante Adams or Stefon Diggs. Evans’ volume could potentially spike … but Adams’ and Diggs’ looks are practically guaranteed and exist at all levels of the field. After that, though, there’s a strong case for taking the Bucs’ WR1 ahead of CeeDee Lamb and/or Tyreek Hill. FF: 86-1,220-10

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