A trusted target of Dak Prescott, on a still-powerful offense even after Amari Cooper’s departure, Dalton Schultz’s ascension in 2021 has ample opportunity to continue into 2022.
Travis Kelce. George Kittle. Darren Waller. Mark Andrews. Kyle Pitts.
It’s tough to put anyone else’s name into the ring as a top-five tight end heading into 2022. I mean, who would you replace?
Well, if anyone is going to overtake one of those names and crack the top five, Schultz has as good of a case as anybody. He technically was one last year, scoring at the TE5 per-game rate in all fantasy formats.
PFF thinks he’s in the conversation too, ranking him TE8 heading into this season.
WORKING IN A PROLIFIC OFFENSE, WITH VACATED TARGETS UP FOR GRABS
The Cowboys finished first in total yards and third in total passing yards in both 2019 and 2021 — Dak Prescott‘s last two full seasons.
Amari Cooper‘s departure leaves 104 targets to fill. Ceedee Lamb should see a portion of that as Dallas’ clear-cut alpha-WR.
Michael Gallup, who is likely to miss a handful of games himself, and Jalen Tolbert stand to eat into that leftover pie a bit, too. Even Tony Pollard is looking to get some with potentially more receiving work on the horizon.
There are enough guys vying for targets that Dalton’s uptick in the passing game isn’t automatic in that respect. What he does bring to the table himself, though, is reason to be optimistic.
SIGNS OF ASCENSION
Tight end ascension takes a while for fantasy purposes, arguably the longest among the skill positions. So, when we see that Schultz saw his highest targets (104), receptions (78), receiving yards (808), and touchdowns (8) of his career in 2021, that shouldn’t necessarily be surprising.
But what should stick out is his highest yards-per-target (7.8) and catch rate (75 percent) of his career as well. That efficiency bodes well for his future prospects.
Dak Prescott said it himself, calling Dalton, “a guy that I can count on, that I can trust.” And, the numbers show it.
An established rapport with Dak means that on an offense in a mild transition, Schultz makes a reliable, productive target.
Wolf is on the Schultz hype train. Like many, he’s hard-pressed to find him a spot in the top-5 tight ends in the 2022 Rankings, slotting him as the TE6. He also projects the tight end to catch 84 of 108 targets for 840 yards and nine touchdowns — good for TE4 numbers.
But hit the 1:32:14 mark in the Fantasy Fullback Dive’s NFC projections to see how the Cowboys’ aerial pie shakes up in The Wolf’s world.
Schultz has also risen to the TE7 in the 2022 Dynasty Rankings.
It’s hard to find a place for Schultz among the position’s elite. With a redraft ADP in the mid-sixth round, a production spike is baked into his draft price.
Situation and chemistry with Dak project Schultz to be one of the safest bets after your sure-fire-tiered tight ends. So while you very likely won’t be able to count on Schultz dropping to you, sometimes fantasy drafts are about getting your guy.
Looking at things with objective value is useful, but ultimately, leagues aren’t won by your draft. The fantasy gods don’t care that much about the value you found.
Could Schultz end up getting out-produced by a tight end drafted 5 rounds later? Sure.
Could he separate himself from the pack of mid-to-low TE1’s and be a true difference maker? Yep.
Schultz at cost isn’t a popular take among fantasy industry drivers right now:
But if he pops, you’re going to be glad you got him. Paired with a late-round QB, there’s more than enough breathing room to grab anchors at wide receiver and running back.
So if Schultz is your guy, I can dig it. Go get your guy.