Team: Cleveland Browns
Position: Tight End
Percent Owned On Fantasy Teams (Yahoo Fantasy): 10%
With each passing season, the role of the tight end as a receiving security blanket becomes more prevalent. Household names just as Greg Olsen and Rob Gronkowski have quickly become clutch players both in reality and in fantasy football. Even the body types have changed for these once pseudo offensive lineman as they still promote the size of the position while shedding the sheer girth that they once had. While this is not to say that the bulky tight end is irrelevant, the emphasis on high-octane offenses in the NFL has resulted in once one-dimensional players to become more versatile.
For tight end David Njoku, his value on the field and in fantasy will be mainly predicated on if he can replicate his abilities as a reliable deep threat while he was in college. During his last season in Miami, Njoku was a favorite downfield target of quarterback Brad Kaaya as he averaged 16.2 yards per reception and scored eight times in 2016. His yards after the catch (11.2 yards) are more much more representative of a athletic receiver rather than a prototypical tight end, which is why the Browns saw it fit to select him at the end of the first round. While Njoku still struggles with drops, his big-play ability while certainly help the Browns throughout the season.
In terms of fantasy value, Njoku’s worth from week to week will be predicated on who is throwing him the ball. While quarterback DeShone Kizer is a fearless gunslinger (which caters perfectly to Njoku’s abilities), his recklessness and overall raw make up could hurt Njoku’s chances to initially shine in fantasy. As a result, Njoku’s ownership percentage is understandably low compared to Evan Engram (21%) and O.J. Howard (34%). Yet, if Njoku becomes the beneficiary of a consistent passer, he could easily surpass both Howard and Engram in terms of fantasy value.
Of course, a fantasy owners willingness to have faith in the Browns will determine how they view Njoku as a long-term asset. While it’s a big ask for anyone to give the Browns the benefit of the doubt, (whether in fantasy or reality) we would all be remiss if we failed to see what Njoku can do given the proper time to develop. As the role of the tight end continues to change, it’s reasonable to believe that Njoku could be ahead of the curve in becoming a nearly perfect hybrid as a receiving tight end.