Is It Evan Engram SZN Once Again?
By Tim Lazenby
When it comes to players that I just unequivocally love in fantasy, there are a few on my list. Whether it is because of a rookie performance I can’t forget; the fact that they won me a championship; the situation being fantastic; or any number of criteria; there are just some players that I preach their gospel for year in and year out. Ironically, there was a player who finally fell out of my good graces last season, but with a couple changes, they are right back in the passenger seat as we ride off into fantasy football glory in 2022-23.
Evan Engram is quite polarizing in the fantasy community, and for good reason. As a rookie, although he was highly anticipated, not many could have predicted just how successful he would be. While the depth chart looked promising for Engram to have success, he still had to overcome the fact that Eli Manning wasn’t what he once was. The 2017 New York Football Giants also didn’t have the strongest supporting cast in giving Manning his best shot at 36 years old. Well, despite the odds, Engram was an absolute beast in his rookie season.
We’ve Seen What He Can Do
And when I say beast, I’m not over-exaggerating. In case you’ve forgotten or didn’t
know, here’s how he did in his rookie season; even while missing two games:
Targets - 115 (2nd) Receptions - 64 (6th) Yards - 722 (5th) Touchdowns - 6 (7th)
Fantasy Points - 109.6 (5th)
If you follow the game by position, you know that the tight end is the one that takes the longest to develop, so it’s especially fantastic that he had so much success as a rookie. But if you really want a dose of reality, here is how he fared at the time among rookie tight ends in the history of the league. Remember, he missed two games:
Targets - (2nd place) Receptions - (3rd place) Yards - (6th place) Touchdowns - (11th place)
Fantasy Points - (1st place)
That’s right. You read correctly. Evan Engram had the most PPR fantasy points as a rookie in the history of the entire league; although that has since been surpassed by “best tight end prospect ever” Kyle Pitts, but only by 3 points. All that being said, if you thought you knew how good he was as a rookie, I’ll bet most of you had forgotten just how good he actually was.
It Gets Rough Thereafter
But the problem comes after his rookie season. In 2018, his targets would be cut nearly in half and his touchdowns would be literally halved. The following season, the yards went down by over 100 from 2018, which was already terrible compared to his stellar rookie year. Admittedly, I thought I was really smart in 2018 as I drafted him and OJ Howard back to back picks in my home league only to be stuck with regret for most of the season. Last year, for the first time, I finally turned my back on my Evan Engram soapbox and focused elsewhere.
Truthfully, I didn’t really pay attention to the lovechild who had deceived me for all of 2020 until it was all over. To my surprise, Evan Engram almost matched his rookie season in targets and was close in yards. His one touchdown was quite appalling, but considering the Giants’ quarterbacks only had 12 on the season, it was forgivable. So in 2021, although I didn’t jump back on the soapbox, which had been torched by the way, I was glad that I wasn’t completely deceived by Evan Engram.
2021 drafts arrived, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on Engram. The golden child burned me too often and I wasn’t about to drink the Kool-Aid again. And thankfully, at least for me, Evan Engram did not repeat 2017 or 2020. The numbers weren’t the worst in the league, but they weren’t befitting of tight end royalty or even close to TE1 status.
So as I’ve rambled on for far too long now about why he isn’t worth drafting, rostering or trading for, I can’t send him up the river anymore. And despite having long burned down my Evan Engram soapbox, I’ve built a new one and once again stand proudly singing his praises. In 2022, Evan Engram’s situation is given new life with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Let’s talk about why now is the time to move for Evan Engram.
It’s a New Day...Yes it is!
No disrespect intended on the previous quarterback play that Engram has endured, but Trevor Lawrence far surpasses them all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about Eli Manning’s entire career here. I’m talking about just the years he played with Engram. Moving forward, despite having a dismal season last year, Trevor Lawrence will bounce back in style. The first generational quarterback prospect in years is certainly worth taking the gamble on rejuvenating Evan Engram somewhat closer to his fantasy prowess.
Doug Pederson also comes to Jacksonville to save the day at coach. Not only have they gotten rid of the plague that is Urban Meyer, they also gained a Super Bowl winning coach who loves utilizing his tight end. Even though he’s always been good, if you ask Zach Ertz which years were his most productive in the NFL, he’d have to tell you they were under Pederson. Pederson has already shown he’s not dependent on one guy to win, all the while displaying his ability to make players shine. He’s also a guy who loves his players and this will bode well for Engram who is eager for that.
Lastly, the surrounding cast is a big upgrade for Evan Engram now that he’s leaving the Giants for the Jaguars. Aside from the fact that I’d rather have the Jags’ team overall than the Giants’ if I were playing, the Giants have made great improvements to their receiving weapons. The Jaguars have also improved, don’t get me wrong, but they need Evan Engram far more than the Giants do. The recipe is there for Engram to get more opportunities in the passing game where he is rather than where he was.
So the final verdict? I’m not suggesting Evan Engram is going back to 2017, but I am saying he is a strong play to flirt with TE1 status. He’ll have to overcome the hurdle of Dan Arnold, but I don’t think that’s as big of a mountain as others do. But the best part is his cost.
If you’re in redraft, he is basically free. I’m seeing him go beyond round 15 and sometimes much lower. And in dynasty, ironically enough, he’s cheaper in some circumstances. The tight end position is a crap shoot every year once you get past the first tier or two. So, it’s even harder to find that true gold over fool’s gold.
There is no better value at tight end in 2022 than Evan Engram.
Tim Lazenby joined Dynasty Pros, after writing for a few years elsewhere, and is passionate about all things fantasy football. Tim has been playing fantasy sports for over twenty years now and takes his love of the game to every article he writes. Although he’s played a variety of fantasy football, he is especially in love with dynasty football. If you ask him for advice, whether you’re just joining or you’ve been playing for years, he wants nothing more than to help you succeed, than to keep that fantasy gold to himself. A lover of the game and ultimate competitor, Tim is just trying to spread the good news of fantasy football to all.