Above the Board – Evan Engram

In fantasy football, we want to draft the best players, which goes without saying. When picking we often look to choose players we feel can beat their average draft position (ADP). This provides us value with our picks.

The consensus is that any player who beats their ADP is a good pick if we choose them at or after that draft position. The thing is, players who are close in ADP often have very similar scoring results. When looking to make a big impact we need to not look to just beat out ADP by a little bit but blow it out of the water.

Drafting a player who significantly outperforms their ADP can go a long way in building a championship roster. This requires us to do our research, buck the trend, and be bold in our decisions. This will be the third installment in my Above the Board series where we look at players that have potential to vastly outperform the collective expectations of the fantasy football community.

In this edition we look at an incredibly gifted tight end who has failed to live up to the hype. After an amazing rookie year that left people anticipating a new perennial All-Pro inconsistent play has followed. In many people’s minds drops have plagued his career, he is untrustworthy. Maybe that sentiment was shared by some in the NFL. The new regime in New York decided to let him walk in free agency.

Evan Engram, TE – Jacksonville Jaguars
ADP 178.1 – TE23

Evan Engram is a player many have given up on in the fantasy community. His nine million dollar (ten million with incentives) contract this season tells us that some in the NFL, particularly the Jaguars, have a different view on things.

Engram could not have found a better situation than the one he is in. Doug Pederson has been credited with being a quarterback guru but the biggest benefactors of him being a head coach have been tight ends.

In the five years Doug Pederson was head coach of the Eagles, a tight end led the team in receptions and receiving yards in four years. Three of the five years a tight end also led the team in targets and receiving touchdowns. In the one season where a tight end did not lead at least three receiving categories the top two tight ends on the team played in 11 games each

Evan is a freak athlete who offers Pederson options at the tight end position he has never had. Engram is 6’3”, 240 pounds, runs a 4.42 40-yard-dash, and has a 36” vertical. He is amongst the most athletically gifted tight ends to ever play the game.

The knock on Engram is he has terrible hands; he drops too many passes. Let’s dig into the numbers on this. Engram has been targeted 429 times in his career. He has 25 dropped passes in his career. This calculates to a drop rate of 5.82 percent.

Taking a look at the list of players who finished the 2021 season with the most drops gives us some reference.

NameTargetsDropDrop Rate
Keenan Allen15795.73%
Ja'Marr Chase12897.03%
DJ Moore16384.90%
Deebo Samuel12086.67%
Robbie Anderson11076.36%

One thing that stands out is that three of the five players finished in the top ten wide receivers in scoring. Four finished in the top 18.

Engram’s five drops in 2021 had him tied for 16th in the league with 12 other players. His 6.85% drop rate is on the higher side but not egregious. It certainly shouldn’t generate the level of vitriol it has. In fantasy and even in real life drops will not stop a player from being a success.

Photo by Mike Carlson / Getty Images

Opportunities are the biggest keys to success and Engram should find them in spades in 2022. Evan finished as a top five tight end in the only season he was targeted at least 110 times. In the four seasons Ertz was healthy when playing for Pederson he was targeted 110 times or more in a season three times. In those three seasons Ertz finished as TE4, TE2, and TE3 respectively.

Despite paying Christian Kirk a ridiculous amount of money he has not shown the ability to be a top option in the passing game. He has always had another receiver to take the focus off him. Kirk has never been targeted more than 108 times or had more than 77 receptions in a season.

Zay Jones was also signed this off season to a sizable contract. He has underwhelmed his entire career and has lacked the ability to be a consistent contributor on offense.

Kirk and Zay are the biggest obstacles for Engram to overcome to establish himself as the alpha in the passing game. Pederson’s offensive philosophy and offensive sets should aid Evan’s endeavor.

As a head coach Pederson has never had a wide receiver with 1,000 yards or more receiving in a season. He has heavily used 12 personnel, a set with two tight ends. Engram will be on the field for almost every offensive snap in 2022.

With all things considered a realistic prediction for Engram’s 2022 season is:

TargetsReceptionsReceiving YardsReceiving TDs

A season with this performance comes to 203 points which would have been TE7 in 2021.

Engram isn’t a lock to perform well. What he is sure to get is a ton of playing time in arguably the most tight end friendly offense in the NFL. Opportunities should be plentiful. He will be in the best position in his career to succeed and meet at least some of those lofty expectations he came into the league with.

Additional Information

When are you drafting Evan Engram this year? Let us know in the comment box below!

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