The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side by Daniel Simpkins
How many tight ends in today's NFL present a huge coverage mismatch for opposing defenses? Rob Gronkowski is the gold standard. Tyler Eifert, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Julius Thomas, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins also have this type of upside-- when they are healthy, that is. Each of these guys is going off the board before Dwayne Allen, a player with just as much ability to cause headaches for linebackers and corners who attempt to cover him.
Allen will finally be the man in Indianapolis. Target stealing Coby Fleener has moved on to the Saints. Allen can block and receive in equal measure, meaning he won't spend much time on the bench in a game. The other tight ends on the roster, Jack Doyle and Eric Swoope, are not as competent in these areas.
Rob Chudzinski's appointment to offensive coordinator also bodes well for Allen. Chudzinski is known for helping tight ends such as Jordan Cameron and Antonio Gates have their best statistical years. Unlike previous OC Pep Hamilton, Chudzinski prefers the vertical passing game, meaning Allen should get sent down the field more this year.
His ADP is creeping up, but in round 12, Allen is still an extreme value. If he can avoid injury, he has the potential to make a difference for your team without paying the premium usually required to land such a talent. Owners can hedge against injury by pairing him with other late-round upside plays such as Ladarius Green, Jordan Cameron, Austin-Seferian-Jenkins, or Jared Cook.
Low Side by Jason Wood
Dwayne Allen has plenty going for him this season. He signed a 4-year, $29mm deal to remain with the Colts -- a sure sign that the team values him and expects big things. Coby Fleener -- his main threat for targets -- signed a massive free agent contract with the Saints. The depth behind Allen is suspect, unless you think Jack Doyle is a breakout candidate. Last but not least, OC Rob Chudzinski is a tight end specialist by background and partly responsible for the evolution of the position at the NFL level, having coached Kellen Winslow and Antonio Gates among others.
It's also worth noting that Allen's ADP (TE16) isn't onerous if you're in a league that drafted backup tight ends for upside.
So why then am I recommending fantasy owners pass up the Colts veteran? Let's start with the obvious -- he's a walking injury report. In 2013, he had foot and hip injuries. In 2014, it was ankle and knee injuries. In 2015, it was ankle and calf injuries. In all Dwayne Allen his missed 21 games in the last three seasons. I know Dr. Jene Bramel disavows the concept of "injury prone" but at some point the evidence points toward it being a real risk.
That's not the only reason to be discouraged. Early camp reports have pointed to the Colts using a 3-WR set as the baseline offense. While that doesn't necessarily mean Allen won't have his opportunities, it does speak to the fact that Allen will need to stay in as a blocker on many snaps. Unfortunately for Allen's fantasy chances, he's an excellent blocker -- unlike his former teammate Coby Fleener who is essentially a glorified wide receiver.
Allen has talent; that's undeniable. But he also has a horrifying injury history, limited history of production (even though many fantasy pundits predict he'll outperform Fleener every season yet never does), and comes at a point in the draft where there are better values at running back and receiver.