Mike Gesicki: A Must-Add at a Shallow Position (2019 Fantasy Football)
We all know the story by now about the tight end position. It’s a wasteland where anyone with soft hands and a pulse can make a difference in fantasy at the position. As we have been taking a deeper look at some of the top waiver-wire pickups each week, this week I get the dubious honor of introducing those who are unfamiliar to the athletic specimen that is Dolphins second-year tight end, Mike Gesicki.
So, let’s take a look at who Gesicki is as a player with a glimpse into his past and how he found his way into the league. We will analyze the state of the Dolphins’ offense and make our prediction for what we can expect from Gesicki going forward.
Mike Gesicki was a second-round draft pick in 2018 who played his college ball at Penn State. He was a standout talent on teams that were loaded with current NFL talents such as Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, Chris Godwin, and DaeSean Hamilton. Gesicki was second on the team in receiving yards as a junior in 2016 just behind Godwin and was tied with Hamilton for the team lead in TDs with nine as a senior in 2017. He also ranked inside the top 10 in the BIG 10 in receiving TDs in his final two seasons.
As mentioned above, Gesicki is an athletic freak whose combine showing has had deep leaguers and dynasty fantasy football fans swooning for him to get some opportunities. He ranked with a 97th percentile SPARQ score according to Player Profiler and his workout metrics were as follows with percentiles in parenthesis:
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.54 seconds (96th)
- Speed Score: 118.7 (96th)
- Burst Score: 137.1 (99th)
- Agility Score: 10.86 (99th)
- Catch Radius: 10.67 (100th)
You can check out his combine highlights where draft analyst Mike Mayock compares him to Zach Ertz in more ways than one and they show his 40-yard dash in relation to the likes of Antonio Brown and Cooper Kupp for comparison (spoiler alert: Gesicki was faster).
Despite being one of the most athletic talents we have seen at the tight end position ever, Adam Gase and company kept him on the sidelines often as a rookie as he saw the field for less than 50% of the team’s snaps in 12-of-16 games. He also was never featured properly in the passing game as he was held to one or no catches in 11 games.
This season has been a different story as the talented tight end has seen at least six targets in seven games already and in each of his last five games as well. He finally came down with his first career TD in Week 12 and followed that up with another TD in Week 13. We are finally getting a taste at the potential that lays here and I think it is just the tip of the iceberg.
State of the Offense
The Dolphins’ struggles were well documented as they were losing games in an epic fashion to begin the year. They have averaged just 16.7 PPG on the season which is fourth-fewest in the league, but things have improved more recently. After looking like an early-season shoo-in for an 0-16 finish, they have suddenly won three of their last five and averaged 27 PPG over their last three games. Their most recent win was the most impressive of the season as they upset the playoff-contending Eagles 37-31.
Things have opened up in the passing game especially ever since rookie wideout Preston Williams went out for the season back in Week 9. Gesicki currently ranks third on the team with 401 receiving yards and the team keeps losing weapons as WR Jakeem Grant was also placed on IR recently with fragile wideouts Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson primarily operating in three WR sets. Gesicki has looked like he is the second-best receiving option on this team though behind perennial training camp MVP, DeVante Parker.
When it comes to passing volume in relation to the league, the Dolphins rank 19th in completions, 12th in passing attempts, 24th in passing yards, and tied for 25th in passing TDs. So, mostly bottom-ranked where it matters, which is not surprising, but Ryan Fitzpatrick reminded us last week against the Eagles of the big-game upside he does possess. He threw for 365 yards with three TDs in that game where he looked more like the gunslinger that was a top fantasy performer just a year ago. If he can keep that momentum, bigger things could continue to come for this offense even though it doesn’t really matter as far as their season is concerned.
The running game has been virtually non-existent for the Dolphins this season as they lack both the opportunity to run a lot given their usual game script and since trading Kenyan Drake, they also desperately lack talent as well.
The Dolphins are still not a team you can trust offensively despite their big win last week. Before that, they lost by 17 points to both the Browns and Bills, respectively. Their remaining three games for the fantasy playoffs though could easily see them winning three in a row without it being much of a surprise to anyone. They will be at the Jets, at the Giants (same stadium, obviously), and then come home to face the Bengals. While these all look like great matchups in general, when we focus on how these teams have performed against tight ends, things look a little different.
The Jets have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to TEs this season, but Gesicki lit them up for six catches and 95 yards already once this season when these teams faced each other in Week 9. That was the most yardage they’ve allowed to a TE this season and they’ve only given up two TDs to the position all year as well.
The Giants also rank inside the top five for fewest fantasy points allowed to TEs this season. They have only allowed three TDs to the position all season and have allowed an average of just 36.5 yards per game to the position as well.
Then, the Bengals offer a more friendly matchup on paper as they’re middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to TEs ranking 15th. They have allowed 596 receiving yards to the position this season which ranks inside the top 10 for most allowed. They also allowed a multi-TD game to Mark Andrews earlier this season.
So, the bottom line for me is that we know Gesicki is talented enough to take advantage of tough matchups. He did that against the Jets earlier this season and even the Eagles whom he just played were a tough matchup on paper ranking inside the top eight for least fantasy points allowed to TEs. The bigger concern is whether or not the Dolphins offense as a whole is going to completely tank or not which is still possible any given week.
I still love Gesicki’s potential to close out the season as a TE1 the rest of the way, finding top 12 finishes either via high yardage totals or lower yardage but finding the end zone. He is basically just a really big WR in the mold of Evan Engram and he is a must-add for your fantasy squads at a desperate position as each week going forward is do or die. He’s starting to give us a blend of elite physical talent and solid opportunity which is really hard to find at this position especially.