Nothing pumps me up more as a dynasty fantasy footballer player than the jockeying for a starter position that ensues upon a star player’s departure. We saw it when Calvin Johnson retired and the same happened when Peyton Manning decided to call it quits. The position battle on the field is almost equaled in tenacity by the battle of ADP in fantasy circles. On May 3rd, 2018 Jason Witten announced his retirement from the NFL and the replacement talks began. The situation only continued to become less clear as we moved through the offseason with a rookie tight end being drafted by Dallas and joined the conversation.
Now, let’s be clear on what we are talking about. We are NOT talking about a top passing offense. We are NOT talking about big name guys (or even medium name guys for that matter). I am simply providing insight for a potential deeper sleeper that can have value in replacing the 91 targets per season left behind by Witten since Dak Prescott became the starting quarterback. Let the breakdown begin of Dallas’ tight ends and their potential fantasy outlooks in 2018. All ADP data is taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
Blake Jarwin (NO ADP)
Who?? That’s right America, we are starting out with undrafted free agent and practice squad standout Blake Jarwin. Jarwin is a second-year guy out of Oklahoma State who shows above average athleticism. There have been multiple reports of Jarwin running with the 1st team as we’ve entered training camp. From the practice squad to potentially starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys, Jarwin looks to be the early favorite to fill the receiving tight end void for quarterback Dak Prescott. My thoughts are he starts the season as such, but as rookie Dalton Schultz progresses, Jarwin’s role will turn into a timeshare with the 2018 4th round pick.
Fantasy Projection: 40 receptions, 415 yards, 3 touchdowns (PPR: WR26)
Geoff Swaim (No ADP)
Underneath all of the news of Witten’s retirement was the much quieter retirement of the team’s second tight end, James Hanna. Hanna received the most snaps of any non-starter with 25% of the team’s offensive snaps. Known as the blocking tight end in Dallas’ 12-personnel, Hanna was a non-factor in the receiving game. 4th year man out of Texas, Geoff Swaim, is likely to slide into this position. He excels at blocking and, with a run-first offensive scheme, will likely see the most snaps of any tight end. However, don’t project Swaim for more than just a handful of catches. He has never been a receiving tight end going back to his days as a Longhorn
Fantasy Projection: 8 receptions, 75 yards, 0 touchdowns
Dalton Schultz (PPR ADP: WR60)
Schultz was the Cowboy’s second pick in the 4th round this past draft. Despite being a good route runner, Schultz only had 65 receptions through his three seasons at Stanford. He was one of the better blockers in the draft and could work his way into more snaps as the season progresses with his dual-threat blocking and receiving chops. He probably has the most all-around talent of any the tight ends on the Dallas roster with his work in the receiving game being a close second to that of Jarwin. I expect by mid-season for Schultz to work his way into a larger snap share with Jarwin as the main receiving tight for the ‘Boys.
Fantasy Projection: 30 receptions, 285 yards, 2 touchdown (PPR: TE30)
Rico Gathers (No ADP)
The dynasty league darling Rico Gathers has been a known commodity in deeper leagues as well as dynasty setting since being drafted in 2016. A college basketball player for Baylor, the 6’8” Gathers has immense athleticism and was who many projected as the initial lead dog for Witten’s target share upon his retirement. However, with Gather’s struggles during OTA’s and training camp I am projecting Gathers to be a roster cut come September 1st. While he could catch on with another team at some point this season, if Gathers couldn’t break through a tight end room with names like Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim, I don’t see him playing meaningful snaps in the NFL.
Fantasy Projection: 40 receptions, 500 yards, 2 touchdowns (PPR: WR75)
If you like fantasy articles over the Cowboys, stay tuned for more articles that will dive into the Cowboys as we enter the 2018 season. In the meantime, jump on over to Dynasty Happy Hour and check out our dynasty rankings. As always, feel free to reach out to me personally on Twitter at @robbyjeffries.