Now that free agency, the NFL Draft, and the schedule release have all passed, we have our initial layout in place in team depth charts and strength of schedule. With that, we want to take a look at some players across the fantasy landscape that are either polarizing, over or undervalued, or just interesting topics of discussion and walk through some pros and cons of where those players are regarded in fantasy circles.
So far we have explored players such as Kenyan Drake, Austin Ekeler, Marquise Brown, Tyler Higbee, Mecole Hardman, Nick Chubb, the trio of DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki , D.J. Chark, Odell Beckham, Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette, Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, and Derrick Henry. For this installment, we are looking into Evan Engram.
Week 1 Age: 26.0
Contract: Signed through 2021 (Fifth-year option for 2021 picked up)
Using the Dynasty ADP app available at RotoViz, we are seeing Engram has been in an extended holding period, hovering in the pick 60-70 range since the end of 2018. Fantasy players have kept an interest in Engram because of his stellar athleticism and upside at the position, but the wait on his ceiling potential has been slowed by injuries, uneven play, meandering quarterback play, and some frustrating deployment in the league.
Engram is entering his fourth season in 2020. Despite some of the shortcomings we will jump into, Engram has been a strong fantasy asset to start his career. He is coming off career-highs in receptions (5.5) and receiving yardage (58.4 yards) per game. Since the 1970 NFL merger, just 15 tight ends in league history have scored more PPR points over their first three NFL seasons than Engram while Engram ranks eighth among all of those players in points per game (12.0). This the company he is keeping on a point ger game basis through three NFL seasons:
Highest PPR Points Per Game For Tight Ends Through Three Seasons
The catch here is obviously the gap between his overall scoring rank and per game output. That is because Engram had a tough run of staying on the field. Since entering the league, Engram has yet to play a full season, missing one, five, and eight games each of those seasons with a foot sprain, two MCL injuries, pulled hamstring, bruised ribs, and a concussion being the cause of missed time. That missed time has kept Engram outside of the top-12 end of season scorers in each of the past two seasons, but he has been the TE7 in PPR points per game in each of those years. Even right now, Engram is coming off surgery in December to heal a partial Lisfranc injury that ended his 2019 season.
Outside of staying on the field, Engram has run into some odd usage compared to how he was used as a player coming out of Mississippi. A top of the line athlete for his position, he was thought of as a vertical threat and potentially more wide receiver than NFL tight end. Instead, the Giants have morphed Engram into a shallow, near the line of scrimmage player in the NFL that has forced him to rely on yards after catch and volume to sustain high reception-based output.
Evan Engram Usage Through Three Seasons
|Year||aDOT||TE Rank||20+ TGT||Tgt%||End Zone Tgt||Tgt%|
*Deep Target and End Zone Target Provided by Pro Football Focus
There has been a huge transition in how Engram has been used the past two seasons under Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula compared to how he was used as a rookie under Ben McAdoo and Mike Sullivan. Engram’s depth of target, rate of downfield targets, and rate of targets in the end zone have been slashed since his rookie season.
Engram has been good after the catch to start his career (6.4 YAC/Rec) which has helped him out, but he is essentially being asked to be George Kittle in that area. Last season, he had a lower depth of target than Jason Witten and has been behind Jack Doyle in each of the past two years.
Engram has just nine total targets on throws 20-plus yards downfield over the past two seasons after 15 as a rookie. Those nine targets are fewer than vertical downfield threats such as Jordan Akins, Dan Arnold, Ben Watson, and Demetrius Harris have received over the past two seasons while rookie Dawson Knox had 10 such targets alone in his first year in the league. Lastly, his end zone usage has been nearly non-existent. Engram has scored six times in 19 games the past two seasons after scoring six times in 15 games as a rookie.
All in all, this has made Engram a reception-centric fantasy option, but gone are Shurmur and Shula. We are reliant on new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to come in and use Engram properly and how he was in his rookie season, but at least it is a potential change to start.
The really positive thing in place as a foundation for Engram is that the targets have still been there. Engram averaged 21.5% of the team targets per game in 2019, a rate that would have ranked sixth at the position over a full season.
2019 Game Log
|Week||Snap %||Opp||Targets||aDOT||Rec||Yds||TD||PPR||TE Rank|
Our last hurdle to climb is asking if Engram has a quarterback problem. In Daniel Jones’s first start, we thought that a change of quarterback may be a good thing for Engram. He had 6-113-1 in his first game with Jones, but once again similar usage with a low depth of target, needing a 75-yard catch and run on a Y-Cross to anchor his line. Over the final five games Engram played with Jones, he posted a combined line of just 21-190-1.
Daniel Jones Completion Rate by Target Depth
With Engram, we hope we see him stay healthy, receive more diversified usage that can properly highlight what he can do as a mismatch, and need Daniel Jones to take a step forward in his second season. Getting all three to happen at once may be a lot to ask, but even despite his usage and quarterback play to date, Engram has still been an effective player and fantasy producer at his position as a baseline to work with. I am personally still holding onto that baseline with the potential upside to be unlocked at a position that lacks ceiling options for fantasy to begin with in both Dynasty formats and 2020 seasonal rankings.
As usual in closing here, in dynasty, every player has potential to be both a buy and sell at the same time. You just have to find the proper context in your league on which he is valued per owner. Startup ADP and cost is not going to be an exact market for you with team context a driving force in established leagues, but here are the buy and sell point suggestions using that as guideline pending which side you fall on.
2020 Rookie Pick Value: Low First (1.09-1.11)
RB Value Targets: Le’Veon Bell, Chris Carson, Kareem Hunt
WR Value Targets: Tyler Boyd, DeVante Parker, Marquise Brown, Jarvis Landry, Michael Gallup
TE Value Targets: Zach Ertz
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