Okwuegbunam has the chance for a breakout season with Noah Fant now in Seattle, as well as Russell Wilson the new quarterback in Denver. Okwuegbunam just has to prove he's better than rookie Greg Dulcich, which could be a problem. We like Okwuegbunam as a sleeper worth drafting with a late-round pick in deeper leagues. Most likely, you'll want to see if Okwuegbunam can take advantage of Fant being gone, and that he proves he's better than Dulcich. There are definitely a lot of mouths to feed in Denver with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and quality running backs, but Wilson can hopefully maximize Okwuegbunam's potential. If that happens, especially early in the season, then add Okwuegbunam off the waiver wire if he goes undrafted in your leagues.
With the addition of rookie tight end Greg Dulcich in the third round of the draft, Okwuegbunam may find himself sharing duties at the position in 2022, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com reports. Though Okwuegbunam's starting tight end position is likely secure at this point, the addition of Dulcich through the draft could certainly cut into the veteran's playing time next season. Okwuegbunam became poised to be the Broncos' starting tight end with the departure of Noah Fant to Seattle as part of the deal to acquire Russell Wilson. Dulcich, however, caught the eye of head coach Nathaniel Hackett as an impact player. "When you have a guy that can stretch the field like he can, it's really exciting," Hackett said of the UCLA product. Regardless of how the tight end pecking order plays out in 2022, the arrival of Wilson at quarterback will likely help to elevate the fantasy production of the entire Denver pass-catching group.
With Noah Fant slated to head to the Seahawks in the looming Russell Wilson trade, Okwuegbunam currently profiles as the Broncos' top option at tight end, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic reports. The 2020 fourth-rounder is coming off a 2021 season in which he hauled in 33 of his 40 targets for 330 yards and two TDs in 14 games. With Fant, who saw 90 targets in 16 contests last year, out of the equation, Okwuegbunam seems poised for an uptick in work this coming season, but Kosmider suggests that the Broncos could bring in some tight end competition via free agency and/or the draft. In any case, the anticipated addition of Wilson does boost the fantasy prospects of the team's skill players, a context that gives Okwuegbunam some sleeper appeal, though to what degree depends on how the team's TE depth chart ultimately shakes out in the coming months.
Okwuegbunam finished the 2021 season with 33 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns. Okwuegbunam operated as the Broncos' No. 2 tight end in 2021, and he saw his role increase in his second year with the team. The 23-year-old played in 14 games this season, a big jump from the four games played in his rookie season. Though Noah Fant is the team's starter at the position, it's clear the team trusted Okwuegbunam to take a step forward based on his usage on 47 percent of Denver's offensive snaps this season. Both Okwuegbunam and Fant are still on their rookie contracts, so both tight ends will likely be with the team in 2022. The former has two more years on his deal, so it would not be surprising to see Okwuegbunam's role grow even more in 2022 with Fant set to become a free agent at the end of next season. The team may want to evaluate what it has in Okwuegbunam even further before determining if it will re-sign Fant in 2023. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-5, 258-pound Okwuegbunam would benefit from an upgrade at quarterback to give the entire passing game a boost for the upcoming season.
Okwuegbunam caught both of his targets for five yards in Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Chargers. Operating as the Broncos' No. 2 tight end, Okwuegbunam didn't see much work in the passing game despite being on the field for half of the Broncos' snaps on offense. Meanwhile, starter Noah Fant caught six of his seven targets for 92 yards and a touchdown, taking full advantage of the absences of starting wideouts Jerry Jeudy (illness) and Tim Patrick (illness), who were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Okwuegbunam is a young player with a lot of talent, but he'll likely continue to play second fiddle to Fant at tight end in the Broncos' Week 18 matchup with the Chiefs.
Okwuegbunam failed to catch either of his two targets in Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Raiders. The Denver passing game struggled as a whole Week 16, and Okwuegbunam wasn't immune to quarterback Drew Lock's struggles to move the offense. The second-year tight end played just one third of the team's offensive snaps in the loss, and his two targets were his lowest total since Week 12. Okwuegbunam should remain far off the fantasy radar in a Week 17 matchup with the Chargers.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/25||San Francisco 49ers||4||4.60|
|4||10/02||@Las Vegas Raiders||30||9.89|
|6||10/17||@Los Angeles Chargers||31||10.35|
|7||10/23||New York Jets||27||8.82|
|11||11/20||Las Vegas Raiders||30||9.89|
|14||12/11||Kansas City Chiefs||10||5.80|
|16||12/25||@Los Angeles Rams||9||5.62|
|17||01/01||@Kansas City Chiefs||10||5.80|
|18||01/08||Los Angeles Chargers||31||10.35|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||28||22||226||2||10||10.27||34|