Mike Gesicki is a Bust in Dynasty Leagues (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Tight end might be one of the more difficult positions to project a dynasty bust based on early-career production. We all know that it is extremely rare for a young tight end to come into the league and make an immediate fantasy impact. As a result, dynasty owners are forced to show more patience in development than at other offensive positions.
In a recent piece where I focused on potential running back busts, I looked at the effect of potential long-term injuries on their perceived values, as well as expiring contracts. Initially, I thought about mentioning Hunter Henry and Evan Engram in this article, but I saw both as low hanging fruit since I once again could point to their contracts and injury history. After dissecting several tight ends, one stood out to me as the subject for this piece.
I must admit, Mike Gesicki was nowhere near the top of my list when initially thinking about tight ends that could potentially bust from a dynasty perspective. Coming off a strong second-year performance in which he saw a 15.3% target share with 51 receptions, 570 receiving yards, and five touchdowns, he appears to be poised to take that next step heading into year three.
Gesicki garners attention within the dynasty community based on his workout metrics alone. As you can see in the below graphic, his workout metrics top the charts in every major category. In 2019, he also had a contested-catch rate of 33.3%, which ranked fourth among all tight ends. With a strong second year under his belt, a rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick — who should at least begin the season as the Dolphins’ starter — and physical traits that would rival a Marvel superhero, it seems silly to label Gesicki as a bust moving forward.
When projecting future outcomes, dynasty owners must look at potential changes within that player’s situation. What can we expect to change for Gesicki compared to 2019? Looking at increased usage and opportunity is a good place to start.
Do we believe Gesicki is going to see the field more often than he did in 2019? This is a glaring detail that pointed toward a breakout for players like Chris Godwin heading into 2019. It only makes sense that, in order to see an increase in production, we must also see an increase in participation. Unfortunately for Gesicki, he already ran a route on 71.6% of Miami’s pass plays in 2019, which ranked seventh among all tight ends. This number could possibly rise in 2020 and beyond, but since it’s already near the higher end of the tight-end spectrum, there isn’t much of a chance for increased opportunity.
Efficiency is something else to monitor when identifying potential improvements from one year to the next. If there is even a slight uptick in usage, an efficient player will benefit more than one who squanders his opportunities. Last season, Gesicki ranked 34th among all tight ends with 1.35 yards per route run, which is a fairly sticky statistic year to year. Despite Gesicki’s off-the-chart measurables, he offers little upside after the catch. Of all 10 tight ends to see at least 80 targets in 2019, he and Jason Witten are the only two without an avoided tackle. With Gesicki’s limited efficiency, any decrease in usage will be detrimental to his fantasy production.
Miami also brought in a new, but familiar face in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. After multiple stops, one of which was the Miami Dolphins from 2000 to 2001, Gailey returns and brings with him quite a sample size of historical tight end usage. Outside of 2008, when he had Tony Gonzalez at his disposal, no tight end has exceeded a TE15 fantasy finish. His tight ends have cracked the top 24 just three times since 2000. Below is the breakdown of the position’s target shares under Gailey as an offensive coordinator or head coach.
|Year||Tight End Target Share|
There’s no arguing that Gesicki had a fantastic second half of 2019, but an obvious change allowed for this drastic increase in usage and production. Preston Williams missed Weeks 10 through 17 due to an ACL tear. As displayed below, Gesicki took full advantage of this opportunity.
|With Preston Williams||Without Preston Williams|
When looking at the above splits without Williams, Gesicki’s 16-game pace of 116 targets would have been the fourth-most of all tight ends. With the return of Williams and long-awaited emergence of fifth-year wide receiver DeVante Parker in 2019, it is going to be extremely difficult for Gesicki to demand that type of target share in 2020.
There is one last thing to look at when breaking down Gesicki’s opportunity moving forward. With all due respect to Kalen Ballage, Patrick Laird, Mark Walton, and Myles Gaskin, the Dolphins had a rough year from a rushing perspective after sending Kenyan Drake packing to Arizona. Last season, their running backs had a success rate of 36.5% on all rushing attempts. The NFL average was 47.7%, per Sharp Football Stats. While Jordan Howard isn’t a sexy fantasy football name, he brings much more to the table than the hodgepodge Miami had to choose from last year. In 2019, Howard had a success rate of 52.9% compared to Miles Sanders’ 44.8%. He also had a 50.4% success rate during his final year in Chicago. Due to negative game scripts and the running game’s lack of success, the Dolphins threw the ball at a rate of 64% last year. Since 2000, a Gailey offense has never eclipsed a 60% pass rate in a season. During his stint with the New York Jets as offensive coordinator from 2015 to 2016, they were at a 57.2% pass rate. Based on last year’s stats in Miami, dropping from 64% to 57% would yield 65 fewer pass attempts.
Without a doubt, Mike Gesicki is one of the most athletically gifted tight ends in the entire NFL. With that said, there are several reasons that he might not pan out from a dynasty standpoint. The lack of efficiency, fewer projected targets due to Williams’ return, Gailey’s arrival as offensive coordinator, and an expected elevated commitment to the run game present too many red flags for dynasty owners to ignore. Since Gesicki is currently sitting at a startup ADP of TE13, according to Dynasty League Football, it would be best to target a higher-tier tight end or wait a few rounds to target Jonnu Smith (TE17), Ian Thomas (TE19), or Jace Sternberger (TE24).