• Fantasy football has a new breakout tight end: Cole Kmet

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    Breakout tight ends are huge finds in later rounds. Cole Kmet should be that guy in fantasy football drafts this season.

    Everyone is always trying to draft the next breakout tight end. There are so many starters but not many top-tier targets. Only seven TEs averaged over 12 fantasy points per game in 2021. That almost doubled 2020’s group when a mere four TEs hit that benchmark.

    Breakout tight ends are a luxury that rewards those who pick right. Drafters manage to snag that TE “diamond in the rough” in later rounds and find themselves with a considerable advantage. There will be lists on this group every year, and 2022 will feature Chicago’s Cole Kmet reasonably often.

    And for a good reason — the breakout is coming.

    The recipe for a TE breakout is threefold — one’s ability with the ball in their hands, opportunity, and touchdown upside. If you average those seven tight ends with 12 or more FPPG in 2021, it creates the following. A model for a great fantasy TE, if you will.

    • 12 yards per reception
    • 7.6 targets per game — 129 total targets
    • .43 touchdowns per game — 7 touchdowns

    There can be some leeway in each area, but this is more or less what a tight end needs to do to break out as an elite option. Kmet has the athleticism to hit that YPR mark. He did it in his breakout college season and made the jump in 2021 to a respectable 10.2 YPR.

    Kmet is on the rise, and even if he remains around the same mark as last year, the Bears TE can make up with opportunity. Targets are king, and he is going to get his. Kmet averaged 5.5 TPG last season and is a sure bet to jump close to or even exceed that 7.5 TPG mark.

    Chicago vacated 215 targets, with former Bears Allen Robinson, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd making up most of that. The team also let Jimmy Graham walk, and, while the veteran was at the end of his rope talent-wise, he still snagged 27% of snaps each week on average, along with three total TDs.

    Who did the Bears bring in to compete with Kmet to fill that 215-target void? Byron Pringle, 25-year-old third-round rookie Velus Jones Jr., Equanimeous St. Brown, and David Moore. At TE, the team added Ryan Griffin and James O’Shaughnessy.

    Of course, all of those names — minus the rookie Jones — combined for 155 targets last season. Kmet is at the top of the food chain alongside Darnell Mooney. A quick note there — Mooney saw a remarkable 140 targets last season, the 12th most in the league. He isn’t getting much more than he already got, so he poses no threat to Kmet’s rise.

    That leaves touchdowns, and it’s fair to be concerned here. The Bears look to be one of the worst teams in football. While all those journeyman names mentioned before may help Kmet get looks, they will not allow him to get closer to the red zone. Of the seven players who hit the 12 PPG threshold, only T.J Hockenson wasn’t on a playoff team.

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    It’s safe to say the Bears won’t be sniffing the playoffs in 2021, but opportunity can guise lower touchdown outputs. Darren Waller averaged 8.5 targets per game to hide the fact that he scored a touchdown once every six games, on average, in 2021. Hockenson finished below all three of the previously mentioned averages, and while his weekly ceiling was lower, he still cleared 12 PPG.

    Kmet’s ceiling is likely also capped due to that touchdown issue — in 2021, he scored zero times in 17 games — but he can overcome it thanks to the absence of Graham’s red-zone snaps and a boost of targets.

    Calling for a top-three breakout is premature with the state of the Chicago Bears. Top-six is well within the cards for Kmet, who is currently going off the board in double-digit rounds as the TE15.

    If you miss out on the Waller, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews tier — don’t fret. Take the 6-foot-6-inch Kmet later in drafts, put your feet up, and toast to the breakout.

    Thank you for checking out my article! You can read all of my articles on my IDP Guys' author page. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @Michael__Sicoli and @IDPGuys (we have offense too) and please check out our website at idpguys.org.

    Michael Sicoli

    A dynasty enthusiast and fantasy football addict, there's not much more I'd prefer to write about. I'm a New Yorker at a Connecticut university -- Quinnipiac -- who's a firm believer that the NFL doesn't have an offseason.
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