Fantasy football projections in February might seem a little silly. Truth be told, a lot is going to change between now and the traditional draft season. But it's also true that Best Ball drafts are happening right now, and besides, who doesn't want to start thinking about next season already? Later in the offseason, these projections will be updated and included in our position previews, just like last year. For now, let's just take a look at the first (or second) run and what it's telling us.
At tight end, like the other positions, there is much left to be decided. You won't see Hunter Henry, Rob Gronkowski, or Jared Cook in the projections below. That's because they're all free agents. You will see Zach Ertz, still projected on the Eagles, but I have a low degree of confidence he'll be there in June. For Dallas Goedert's sake, I hope not. You'll also see a couple of interesting sleeper candidates, O.J. Howard and Will Dissly, projected much higher than anyone could reasonably rank them.
Howard has at least had some extended success. In 2018 he finished as the No. 14 tight end despite playing just 10 total games. His 12 Fantasy points per game would have ranked him sixth that year at the position. Howard has been incredibly efficient, averaging 10.1 yards per target for his career which is just absurd for a tight end. Only Rob Gronkowski can boast that type of efficiency. Speaking of Gronk...
Howard's projection has much to do with Tampa Bay's offseason uncertainty. Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin are all free agents. So are several key defensive players. Guessing who will return and who won't is going to be very tricky. If Gronkowski returns, he and Howard (assuming Howard is fully recovered from his torn ACL) will both be high-end No. 2 tight ends entering 2021. Remember, through the first four games of 2020 Howard was outperforming Gronkowski across the board.
While Howard's projection might be surprising, Dissly's is downright shocking. But the math is pretty easy. He's currently the primary tight end on the roster and like Howard, he's been wildly efficient when he's been healthy. He's turned 70 career targets into 55 catches for 669 yards and eight touchdowns. While you'd expect some regression with an increase in volume, those numbers aren't too far from a 16-game projection if the Seahawks don't add a starting tight end. Of course, projecting Dissly for 16 games may be the boldest part of his projection.
One popular sleeper who didn't turn out very well in the first run of projections was Cole Kmet. I'm hoping the offseason changes that. But right now he's a second-year tight end on a team without a quarterback that we would project to be low scoring. Conventional wisdom says a Matt Nagy offense would be good for tight ends but no tight end has more than 76 targets since Nagy arrived in Chicago. You need efficiency like Howard or Dissly to be Fantasy relevant with fewer than 80 targets. It's not fair to expect that from a young tight end in Kmet's situation. Hopefully, that situation improves before training camp.
Below is the February edition of my 2021 projections. The spreadsheet will be updated as the offseason progresses.