San Francisco's George Kittle and Kansas City's Travis Kelce lead the pack as the best fantasy tight ends heading into the 2020 season. However, Giants' tight end Evan Engram has the potential to be right up there with them in terms of fantasy production--if he can stay healthy.
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Heisler and All49ers editor Grant Cohn recently discussed which tight end between Kittle and Kelce should get drafted first in a recent video feature. Cohn made an interesting point about why Kittle is at a disadvantage.
Kohn argues that while Kittle is the better all-around tight end than Kelce, San Francisco's run-first offense will limit how often Kittle gets to catch passes and rack up fantasy points.
Kittle's elite run-blocking skills are one of his greatest assets as a player, but won't reward fantasy owners how Kelce's role in Kansas City's high-octane passing offense will.
However, Heisler made the counter-argument that Kittle is at an advantage, not based on San Francisco's offense, but its defense.
Heisler said he expects the 49ers defense to regress in 2020, which will, in turn, force the offense to be more aggressive in their passing attack. Kittle is arguably the 49ers' best receiving target and would naturally see an increased role as a receiver if the team is forced to pass more than last year.
Both Cohn's and Heisler's arguments might ultimately work in Engram's favor, maybe even more so than Kittle or Kelce.
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Engram has already proven to be a better receiving tight end than a blocking one. According to Pro Football Focus, Engram has only been asked to execute 352 run blocks in his career and just 37 pass blocks.
Statistically, Engram hasn't had the same type of production as Kittle and Kelce, but the Giants' offense in 2020 could prove to be the perfect fit for Engram to take a massive step forward as a pass-catcher in 2020.
Like Kelce, Engram is stepping into an offense in 2020 that has heavily utilized tight ends in the passing game. Under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten averaged 128 fantasy points per year from 2007, when Garrett took over as Dallas' offensive coordinator, to 2014 with Garrett as head coach.
Meanwhile, Heisler's argument on how San Francisco's defensive decline could lead to increased offensive passing production is much more applicable to the Giants, who finished with the 30th-best defense in the NFL last season.
Engram could become a favorite target for second-year quarterback Daniel Jones in Garrett's offense. Engram averaged 11.2 yards per reception and caught two of his three touchdowns with Jones as the team's passer last year.
If the Giants fall into many deficits in 2020, just as they did in 2019, Jones will be leaned on to make passes down the field and could ultimately lean on Engram as one of his top receivers.
Even when Engram went down with an injury in Week 8 last year, Jones continued to rely on his tight ends in the passing game, as seen by Kaden Smith's 30 catches for 267 receiving yards and three touchdowns in his six starts.
If Engram can stay healthy in 2020, he can keep those receptions to himself, and his fantasy owners will benefit.
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