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Mike Gesicki: The Most Underrated Fantasy Football TE

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Mike Gesicki made a nice leap during his 2020 season, yet many still do not believe in him. I’m here to tell you that he is the most underrated TE in football.


Mike Gesicki turned in the best year of his young career in 2020, yet he still seems to be considered a flake. All the talk of tight ends is of Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle. On an even larger scale, T.J. Hockenson is getting ravenous hype going into 2021 and he and Gesicki are coming off of very similar seasons.

Many are still dropping Gesicki outside of their top 10 tight ends and I am here to say that needs to stop. Mike Gesicki is the most underrated fantasy football TE.

Mike Gesicki, prior to the 2020 Season

Leading up the NFL draft, Gesicki had scouts drooling over his athleticism. During his final season at Penn State, he turned in 57 receptions for 563 yards and 9 touchdowns. Gesicki was spotty his first two seasons, though he showed signs of life in 2019. He has never really had the most consistent quarterback play, to say the least.

To start his career, Gesicki played with Ryan Tannehill, though in an Adam Gase-led offense. Then in 2020, it was gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick, as well as Tua Tagovailoa, who was rushed back a bit too early from injury. Needless to say, Gesicki’s results were about as spotty as his quarterback play.

In 2018, his rookie season, Gesicki only received 32 targets, bringing in 22 receptions for 202 receiving yards without a touchdown. Again, it was an Adam Gase-led offense, so I’m giving Gesicki a pass. In 2019, the Dolphins were led by Fitzpatrick who seemed to enjoy Gesicki’s presence a little more, targeting him 89 times. Gesicki turned those targets into 51 receptions for 507 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.

Gesicki’s 2020 Season

What we know about Mike Gesicki is that he is truly just a receiving tight end. He rarely lines up to block, mainly because he is not great at it. That is not why we love Gesicki though. He ranks in the 100th percentile in catch radius and it shows during this beautiful one-handed snag:

Gesicki routinely makes plays like these. Though he has had some issues with drops β€” again, poor quarterback play and catchable ball β€” he has made plenty of highlight-reel plays. Here he is again with another one-handed grab:

To increase Gesicki’s catch radius, he checks in at 6’6″ and runs a 4.54-second 40-yard dash. Add in the fact that he also boasts a 41.5″ vertical leap, and you see him make plays like these:

Gesicki is also one of the best tight ends in contested catch rate. In 2020, he had a 60% contested catch rate which ranked eighth in the NFL among all tight ends. Watch here as he makes the contested catch in triple coverage:

Gesicki has shown vast improvement every year he has been in the league, and 2020 was huge for him. He finished the season with 85 targets, 53 receptions, 703 receiving yards at 13.3 yards per reception, and 6 touchdowns. Needless to say, the arrow keeps pointing up for Gesicki. Yet he is still underrated.

 

Gesicki vs. T.J. Hockenson

The T.J. Hockenson hype has gotten a little out of control, especially when you look at both him and Gesicki. Outside of snap counts, mainly because Hockenson can block, the two are very comparable. Gesicki is very underrated compared to Hockenson, though both had very good 2020 seasons.

Hockenson finished with 101 targets, 67 receptions, 723 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns. Gesicki finished with 85 targets, 53 receptions, 703 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns. The 101 targets are very nice to see from Hockenson, but let’s remember that he had a different coaching staff, as well as Matthew Stafford as his quarterback.

Hockenson’s New Situation

T.J. Hockenson had a very solid 2020, though that outlook may change for 2021. Sure, he may actually be the top receiving option in Detroit, though this may not be to his advantage. Hockenson is likely to see a lot of attention in a conference with strong defense.

Though the Bears were second-worst against tight ends in 2020, the Vikings were 14th, and the Packers were 4th in covering tight ends. The Bears are bound to get better at covering tight ends, considering their pass defense as a whole was ranked second in the NFL. But let’s check out Hockenson and his new regime.

Hockenson lost Matthew Stafford and now has Jared Goff as his signal-caller, a significant downgrade. Goff seemed to have confidence issues after he and the coaching staff seemed to have differences. Goff has much weaker arm strength than Stafford, which will likely result in lower yards pet target. Hockenson, due to the lack of weapons on the team, will be the focal point of defenses, especially in the red zone.

Gesicki’s Current Situation

Mike Gesicki just finished a very strong 2020 with four incredibly productive games. Tua Tagovailoa seemed to finally catch his footing over the final four games of the season, at least showing more confidence throwing the ball downfield. Over the last four games of the season, Gesicki was one of Tua’s favorite targets. During that four-game span, Gesicki had 32 targets, 23 receptions, 254 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns.

Tagovailoa, last season, was coming off of a horrific hip injury, while also having zero off-season. He literally learned the offense as the season progressed. The Dolphins added Jaylen Waddle in the draft and Will Fuller via free agency. Fuller is likely to be a field stretcher and will need to create chemistry with Tagovailoa. Waddle may already have chemistry with Tagovailoa, as the two played together in Alabama.

The additions, I think, bode well for Gesicki as the field-stretching ability of Fuller, plus the added attention on the outside for Waddle, will only open up the middle of the field more for Gesicki. He should own the seam for the 2021 season.

Gesicki vs. Hockenson Advanced Statistics (Courtesy of playerprofiler.com)

Routes

As stated, Gesicki had a strong 2020. Let’s look deeper at Gesicki vs. Hockenson. Gesicki plays fewer snaps than most tight ends, mainly because he does not block. He ranked 29th among eligible tight ends in snap percentage at 65%. Hockenson ranked 15th in the league in snap share with 77.9%. Gesicki is a receiving threat, and his 298 snaps in the slot ranked second in the NFL.

In 2020, Hockenson lined up in the slot 159 times, which was the 13th most in the NFL. He is more of your traditional tight end. Hockenson ran 12 more routes than Gesicki, though he was also on the field much more.

Gesicki ran 440 routes, which was the 10th most in the NFL for tight ends while running a route on 82.6% of his snaps which ranked him eighth overall. Hockenson ran 452 routes which was eighth overall while running a route on 77.7% of his snaps, which was 12th overall.

Targets

Gesicki’s 16.3% target share ranked him 13th in the league, though in the red zone, his target share spiked to 24.6%. Hockenson had a higher team target share, at 18% (10th best), though his red zone target share was lower than Gesicki at 23%.

When looking at opportunities, Gesicki has had more than Hockenson. Gesicki ranked third in total air yards (1,012) as well as air yards completed (564). Hockenson ranked eighth in total air yards (751) and fifth in completed air yards (395).

Gesicki’s average target distance of 11.9 yards had him ranked second in the NFL in that category, while his 16 deep targets were third best. Hockenson had a much shallower depth of target at only 7.4 yards, ranking him 22nd overall. Hockenson also saw only six deep targets, which ranked him 13 spots lower than Gesicki at 16th overall.

Gesicki’s six touchdowns ranked ninth in the NFL and 8th overall in fantasy points scored, both for tight ends (base PPR). Hockenson also had six touchdowns and was ranked just one spot higher than Gesicki in fantasy points scored, at seventh.

Athletic Profiles

When looking at athletic profiles, Gesicki is the far superior option. Let’s take a look at the two RA scores, courtesy of @Mathbomb and ras.football.

Mike Gesicki pre-draft:

T.J. Hockenson:

Both show to be explosive athletes, though Gesicki has a much better athletic profile. He ranks in the 96th percentile in the 40-yard dash, 95th percentile in speed score, 99th percentile in burst score, 99th percentile in agility score, and 100th percentile in catch radius, while having a SPARQ score of 136.9 (the 98th percentile).

Hockenson ranks in the 72nd percentile in the 40-yard dash, the 76th percentile in speed score, 90th percentile in burst score, 88th percentile in agility score, 92nd percentile in catch radius while having a SPARQ score of 115.2 (the 75th percentile). Gesicki is the more explosive athlete.

ADP and Rankings

In the IDP Guys’ current July ADP, Hockenson is being drafted as the TE6 and 72nd overall in Superflex drafts. In tight end premium drafts, Hockenson is being drafted again as the TE6, though at 31.33 overall. Gesicki, in Superflex drafts, is going as the TE9. That is only three spots lower than Hockenson, though he is falling a whole 44 spots lower at 116th overall.

These guys, who were ranked TE7 and TE8 last season, are separated by 44 draft slots. In tight end premium leagues, Gesicki is being drafted just two spots lower than Hockenson, but 23 spots lower overall at 54th. Hockenson is only two years younger and far less athletic than Gesicki.

In the IDP Guys Dynasty Rankings, Hockenson is ranked far higher than Gesicki. Hockenson comes in at a consensus of 82.71 overall, while Gesicki comes in at an outrageous 168.29. With two guys who rank so similarly in production, Gesicki still gets zero love.

Summary

Mike Gesicki is routinely underrated, and all the points above show that he should be ranked similarly to T.J Hockenson, not 80+ spots lower. Gesicki now has a quarterback who seems to have great chemistry with him and is still young, at only 25 years old. I have Gesicki ranked as my TE6, and, even after this article, I am sure to catch plenty of flack on it.


Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @JoeyTheToothIDP, and check out all of my IDP, Devy, and Offensive work at idpguys.org. Be sure to order our rookie draft magazines, which we load with fantastic player profiles and landing spot analysis.

Joseph Haggan

I am the content manager for IDPGUYS and Co-Host of the IDP Lounge. Creator or the top IDP scoring/rankings tool. Aspiring prospect scout.
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