Chiefs Rookie TE Noah Gray Turning Heads at OTAs, 2021 Fantasy Sleeper as Travis Kelce’s Handcuff

It's not common to handcuff a tight end, but Noah Gray could provide insurance for Travis Kelce owners.

The Chiefs traded up with the New York Jets in the fifth round to select Duke tight end, Noah Gray. Standing at 6-foot-3, 240 lbs with a 4.62 40-yard dash, Gray maintains the type of athleticism to create issues for opposing NFL defenses. He also has reliable mitts that dropped only three passes on 107 catchable targets at Duke, which proves he could complement, or even become a valuable 2021 fantasy sleeper and handcuff to the fantasy cheat-code, Travis Kelce, if the unimaginable were to occur.

It also doesn’t hurt that Kelce himself believes Gray could make an immediate impact.

“One of Coach Reid’s big things is to bring energy and show your personality and so far he’s done both,” said Kelce. “It’s been a lot of fun so far. 83’s got a very unique way of understanding football. He’s years ahead of being a rookie, which is awesome. You can give him pointers and he’s running with everything.

“He’s absorbing all the information that the coaches are giving him that he’s hearing from other players and he’s having a lot of success out there on the field. He’s definitely going to help us this year.”

Although the Chiefs only utilized 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE) on 18 percent of their 2020 offensive snaps, 22 personnel on only four percent of snaps, and three-tight end formations on exactly zero percent of offensive snaps, Chiefs beat writers noted the team had a significant number of reps during OTAs with both two and three-tight end sets — with Gray alongside Kelce.

Even with a limited sample size (96 dropbacks) of at least two tight ends on the field last season, Patrick Mahomes racked up 899 yards and nine touchdowns.

“It presents a different set of formations and rules for the defense to be more gap-sound in the run game but at the same time have an idea of our play-action (passing) stuff,” Kelce said of the team deploying two tight ends. “They bring in more bigger guys because we’re bringing in bigger guys, which could also play to our advantage because we’ve got guys who can run routes.

“Anything that Coach Reid can imagine, we want to be able to give him that option to call.”

With Kelce coming off an extraordinary season that ranked him fifth in the league in receptions (105), second in receiving yards (1,416), and tied-fifth in touchdowns (11), it doesn’t look like the All-Pro is close to falling off the proverbial “cliff.” However, Kelce will be turning 32 in October and the league just added another regular season game to the schedule, meaning the aging tight end will need to remain healthy for roughly 20 games from here on out.

In other words, it wouldn’t hurt to handcuff your first-round selection if a monumental disaster were to strike, and Gray seems like an obvious late-round selection in dynasty drafts.

With Kelce obviously locked in at his spot, Gray’s proven versatility at Duke could help him get on the field right away. Last season, Gray played 237 snaps in the slot, 139 snaps in-line, and 120 snaps in the backfield, according to Pro Football Focus. Not to mention his former offensive coordinator at Duke, Jeff Faris, believes Gray’s near-obsession with studying the playbook will only pay dividends in the league.

“A lot of people talk about his production in the passing game and his ability to get open on linebackers and safeties,” said Duke OC Jeff Faris. “I think what people don’t understand about Noah is how tough he is in the run game, too. I think he’s a complete player.

“He’s extremely intelligent. He graduated from Duke in 3.5 years with a degree in political science,” Faris continued. “The way he studies is fanatical. He asks questions in the meeting rooms like he was the offensive coordinator. He loves the game and can’t learn enough. I guess there’s a learning curve for every player going from college to the NFL, but I would assume that Noah would be very quick to catch up.”

The Wolf is clearly buying the OTA hype, as Gray is now his TE27, a psychotic +47 vs the ECR on the 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings & Big Board. Meanwhile, Kelce sits at No. 4 overall (+9 vs the ECR).


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