Evan Engram: Top-Three TE Upside in Round 6 (2018 Fantasy Football)
Back for more bargains? Good. The Wolf never stops sniffing the fantasy market (FantasyPros’ ADP and ECR tools) for guys who rank far higher on his own big board compared to where they are being drafted and/or ranked.
In case this is your first time, we already revealed Jarvis Landry as 2018’s WR1 at a WR3 price, and Tarik Cohen as the Round 9 RB who explodes. Plus, 10 more must buys await you in our (FREE) Preseason Kickoff Guide (you’ll also receive the “Draft Day” update early next week, which is extremely necessary considering the massive risers and fallers we already have this preseason).
After covering the top QB, WR, and RB bargains, I’ll now reveal one of my favorite TE steals. Indeed, I’m fully on-board with Eliot Crist‘s “All-in” approach with a Round Two Rob Gronkowski — a strategy covered in-depth on our Fantasy Fullback Dive Podcast:
However, in case Gronk doesn’t slip, or if you (wisely) prefer stacking up your stable of workhorse and pen of target hogs early on, there’s a freakishly athletic TE who’s primed for a massive leap in 2018, and might provide similar numbers but four rounds later…
ADP: 62, TE6
ECR: 67, TE6
My Rank: 48 (+14, +19), TE4 (+2)
At a position littered with either fairly or overpriced assets, Engram as one of the only clear TE bargains (outside of Trey Burton after his impressive preseason) prior to the “penny stock” range. Let’s run through our Fantasy Stock Formula to illuminate why:
As a rookie, Engram already flashed his freakish athleticism and high upside, despite playing the most difficult position for first-year players to succeed. He’s a complete mismatch nightmare, standing at 6’3″ and 234 pounds, but blazing a combine-leading 4.42 forty. Additionally, he topped all tight ends with a 36-inch vertical, 6.92-second 3-cone drill, and 4.23 shuttle. Whether blazing past defenders with his speed, bodying up coverage with his frame and leaping ability, or running silky-smooth routes and gaining insane YAC thanks to his unfair agility, Engram is a physical monster.
This was all on display while he racked up an impressive 64 catches, 722 yards, and six TDs and finished as the TE5 last season. This included a four-week stretch (Wk 5 – 10) where he scored a TD every week and was the top-scoring TE in fantasy. Even still, there’s plenty of reason to expect even greater on-field dominance in his sophomore campaign. Engram noted how the game has “slowed down” for him in Year 2, which he says is, “allowing me to kind of dig deeper into my bag of route techniques, or getting open and being able to focus more on the run game and getting stronger and just getting more comfortable out there.”
The results have been startling. On our Fantasy Fullback Dive Podcast, Giants Insider Dan Schneier labeled Engram “the best offensive player on the field.” No small feat, considering the loaded weaponry here. According to Schneier, Engram’s been making one-handed catches and breathtaking plays routine, and the Giants seam-stretcher seems primed for a leap. Especially considering the improved…
Usage: A) surrounding talent
Now, take careful note I called for “improved” usage, not necessarily more. This is the major rub “experts” seem to have with Engram, as they (correctly) predict Engram won’t net the second-most TE targets (115) again with stiffer target competition. Though I agree the amount of looks will decrease, I also feel the improved quality of said-looks will not only offset this, but help Engram explode even further.
For one, Engram’s bound to see softer coverage after serving as the defensive focal point in 2017. Yes, he’ll now rank behind Odell Beckham and perhaps even Saquon Barkley on the Giants’ target totem pole, but Engram should find far more room to roam facing less double-teams and weaker competition. Moreover, a more explosive, all-around offense should mean more red zone trips. Again, with his 6’3″ frame, blazing speed, and leaping ability, Engram is an absolute terror inside the 20. This is especially noteworthy inside his new…
Usage: B) coaching scheme
New HC Pat Shurmur is an offensive wizard. He helped the previously-stagnant Vikings explode from the 23rd most points per game in 2017 to the 10th most last year. As Schneier detailed, Shurmur’s offense is like “musical chairs” because of how often he moves around his players around the formation to create mismatches. All the pass catchers need to understand every position, whether the slot, the “Z” or “X” spots, or even the backfield:
Schneier detailed how, throughout camp, Engram is “being used on different route depths and all over the formation. He was lined up on one play as the Z with 3 WRs trips left.” Plus, he’s been peppered in the red area — unsurprising, considering Shurmur’s history of maximizing his “big bodies” (Kyle Rudolph has 15 TDs over the past two seasons).
Top CB Eli Apple has been more than impressed, both with Engram’s talent and how well the new coaching staff utilizes him, stating: “He’s been damn near uncoverable, the situations they put him in and the way they have him run his routes.”
Simply put, Shurmur’s ability to create mismatches and keep his offense moving down the field should only help Engram. Hell, Engram could see just as much volume, despite the increase in target competition. Early reports suggest Engram’s been “Eli Manning’s most-targeted option through 20 practices this year, including two minicamps, OTAs and training camp” while also continuing “to make big plays, including one-handed catches, against linebackers and defensive backs who cannot match his speed and/or size.” Even 90-100 looks would make him deadly, considering the improved “surrounding talent” and “coaching scheme.”
In sum, even if Engram’s 115 targets go down, he could still blow-up further as a sophomore. He’s an explosive and improving talent, still in a prominent and even more creative role, and now facing less defensive attention with increased red zone visits. As such, his numbers should only continue climbing, making Engram an ideal sixth round target. By selecting him here, owners can gain a massive TE-edge of a Zach Ertz without paying the early third premium. This will allow you to load up on 3+ RBs and 3+ WRs, and still find a difference-maker in an otherwise barren TE pool.