2024 Dynasty TE Trade Targets: Acquire David Njoku, Noah Fant to Bolster the Tricky TE Position

Securing a productive, young tight end often yields excellent returns on your investment, as finding one who consistently performs well is a rare feat. In dynasty leagues, two tight ends I believe are undervalued are the Browns’ David Njoku and the Seahawks’ Noah Fant.

The depth of your tight end position can greatly influence the success of your dynasty roster. That’s why I’m buying low on these relatively young tight ends who have yet to fully reach a level of consistency in fantasy football.

DAVID NJOKU DYNASTY VALUE

The Cleveland Browns weren’t able to go far in the 2024 NFL Playoffs, but they battled adversity throughout the season.

One player who is not getting as much attention as he should be for his performances last season is David Njoku, which may be due to the common misconception that Joe Flacco helped him reach those numbers.

Regarding adversity, the Browns were forced to play three different backup quarterbacks in 2023 because of Deshaun Watson’s injury, including Dorian-Thompson Robinson, P.J. Walker, and Flacco. Despite the constant rotation at starting quarterback, Njoku had a career year and established himself as a must-target option in the Browns’ offense.

This was emphasized by Njoku ranking third among tight ends in 2023 in targets (123), target rate (24.7 percent), receptions (81), and snap share (87 percent)—he earned it, too.

Njoku is a special player in getting physical to gain extra yards for his team. In fact, no other tight end in the league had more yards after the catch (599) or after contact than Njoku did this past NFL season, with nearly 68 percent of his total receiving yards coming after the catch.

Just in case you weren’t convinced of the elite receiving ability Njoku possesses, he also has extremely reliable hands. He showcased this with his 4.9 percent drop rate (third-best amongst tight ends). In addition to having the second-most receiving touchdowns amongst all tight ends in 2023, Njoku was also able to produce the seventh-most yards per route run and yards per team pass attempt.

From a fantasy perspective, Njoku was exceptional as well in 2023. Although he tied George Kittle with the 7th-most fantasy points per game, Njoku ranked 4th in expected fantasy points per game (Player Profiler).

Targets per route run and yards per catchable target are great metrics to compare tight ends. The graphic below combines the two metrics: David Njoku is in uncharted territory amongst some of the NFL’s top tight ends, such as Travis Kelce, Sam LaPorta, Trey McBride, and T.J. Hockenson. Those four players are the only tight ends who posted more targets per route run than Njoku.

Believe it or not, It is more common to see tight ends break out far later in their careers than other skill-position players. The NFL community is ecstatic about the early break-outs of LaPorta and McBride, but in most cases, this position takes time to develop. One of the best tight ends the game has ever seen, Kelce, didn’t even have his first TE1 season until he was 27.

The tight end position is not incredibly deep in the NFL, hence why it is important to secure those who show as much promise as Njoku did this past season. At just 27 years old, I believe Njoku is being irrationally undervalued after a TE6 season—especially considering the longevity and durability of the tight end position.

NOAH FANT DYNASTY VALUE

One player who has been completely written off is Seahawks tight end Noah Fant. As a former first-round pick, Fant had high expectations coming out of college alongside TJ Hockenson. However, neither the Broncos nor the Seahawks have been kind to his career thus far.

Even though most of the NFL community has lost faith in Fant, I am certainly optimistic for several reasons.  A few of these reasons include transactions the Seattle Seahawks have made this offseason that might be overlooked.

On March 11th of this year, now-former Seahawks’ tight ends Colby Parkinson and Will Dissly signed new deals with LA-based teams. On that very same day, Seattle pulled the trigger on making Noah Fant the sixth-highest-paid tight end in the NFL—which resonates deeply with me.

Another important factor in this Seattle Seahawks’ off-season is hiring a new offensive coordinator, Ryan Grubb, who just finished leading the dynamic Washington Huskies offense to a national title appearance. His play-calling alone should open things up for not only Fant but the entire Seahawks’ passing game, although Grubb particularly enjoys drawing up plays for his tight ends.

Huskies’ tight ends Jack Westover and Devin Culp combined for 641 receiving yards on 62 receptions, along with six receiving touchdowns, on their way to a national title game berth under Grubb’s offensive dictatorship.

I expect Grubb to pay more attention to Fant when designing plays than Shane Waldron ever did—he will produce, given the opportunity, as well. After diving further into Fant’s usage throughout his career, I found some remarkable information. Fant averages 14.7 fantasy points per game when he catches four or more passes, and when he gets five or more catches, that average increases to 16.5 fantasy points per game (in TE-plus leagues).

With long-time Seahawk Pete Carroll out as the head coach, Seattle is moving in a new direction, starting with hiring former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald as its new head coach. Grubb brings his vast knowledge of what a vibrant offense looks like to the table. At the same time, MacDonald has a history of terrorizing opposing offenses with his complex defensive schemes, hopefully keeping Grubb’s offense on the field more often than not.

There is a reason Seattle eliminated all of its depth at the tight end position and signed Noah Fant to a two-year, $21M contract.

It certainly helps that they can rely on his durability, considering he’s only missed two games throughout his six-year career. He is also a freak athlete, as Fant is in the top 100 for most athletic players of all time and comes in just outside the top 10 for tight ends. Fant also posted a 96th percentile or better in all five workout metrics: 40-yd dash, speed score, burst score, agility score, and catch radius.

It makes sense why he’s a former first-round pick.

Just to put into perspective how dominant a tight end prospect Noah Fant was, only Kyle Pitts had more yards per route versus man coverage than Fant did amongst all tight end prospects since the year he was drafted (2019).

It’s also worth mentioning Sam LaPorta and Fant had nearly identical overall yards per route run, plus yards per route run out of the slot over their college careers. But like I said, most tight ends are “late bloomers.”

The assumption is that Fant is not nearly as good as he used to be, but he might just be a victim of below-average offensive schemes and misusage. Before this most recent NFL season, Fant had never been lower than TE17 in PPR leagues – despite his rather less-than-ideal landing spots. His value is now at an all-time low, even though he is still the same player he once was (no, seriously, look at how identical these plays are below), except for the fact he’s being under-utilized.

Circling back to the same graph I presented for analysis on David Njoku; you find that only George Kittle had more yards per catchable target than Noah Fant in the 2023 NFL season—both of which appear to be in their tier. The limiting factor for Kittle and Fant compared to the NFL’s elite tight ends is volume; Kittle has a decent amount of competition for targets in Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey. As for Fant, he does have the potential to become one of Seattle’s most valuable pass-catchers, given the fire-power on the offense is not quite there yet.

When you dig deeper into Fant’s metrics, they tell another story, beginning with the fact that the looks he was getting last season were 20th in catchable target rate. When he actually got attention from his quarterback, his numbers were compelling.

In spite of Fant being the TE32 this past season, he ranked second in both target separation and contested catch rate. Not to mention, Fant also ranked third in yards per touch (9.6) and yards per reception (12.9) amongst all TEs), along with ranking fourth in true catch rate.

When Fant gets open, Grubb just needs to draw up targets for him and make sure Geno Smith feeds him the football. He also makes the catch when he is not open, or “out of reach.”

The demand for Fant in the trade market is low, and although I wish he had gotten a new landing spot with a better quarterback, Seattle is giving the impression that he will be a vital piece of their offense moving forward.

I’m willing to take a chance on a player as talented and athletic as Fant is, more notably because of the decisions the Seattle Seahawks have made during the 2024 off-season.

WHY DYNASTY MANAGERS SHOULD BUY-LOW ON NJOKU OR FANT

Coming from a Kansas City Chiefs fan, you should not be taking an aging Travis Kelce (as much as I love him dearly) over David Njoku in your dynasty leagues. Njoku is valued about the same as Jake Ferguson and Evan Engram at the moment, and that is an easy choice for me when deciding who I want as my starting tight end.

Last but not least, Noah Fant may be the biggest value among all players in his position. Tight ends such as Cade Otton, Chigozeim Okonkwo, Greg Dulcic, and Pat Freiermuth are all being taken over Noah Fant, so capitalize on the opportunity at hand and acquire a fascinating athlete like Fant in hopes of a late-career break-out.

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