In a normal, non-PPR league, which rookie tight end has the most value for the 2019 season? Does your answer change for PPR leagues?
Rookie tight ends rarely have redraft value, even if they're eventual All-Pros in future seasons. With that caveat, my answer hinges on whether the Minnesota Vikings and Kyle Rudolph come to terms on a new contract. If Rudolph scoffs at Minnesota's pending five-year extension and refuses a pay cut otherwise, Minnesota will either release or trade him. If that scenario, Irv Smith becomes the top rookie tight end. Smith can block and catch, and he would see massive snap count share in the event of Rudolph's departure. If, on the other hand, Rudolph remains a Viking, the honor of top rookie tight end falls to T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson is the best tight end prospect we've seen in a long time and should have a featured role as both a blocker and receiver immediately.
It's probably one of Noah Fant in Denver and T.J. Hockenson in Detroit. Fant is the better physical mismatch, and Hockenson will be a foundational part of the offense right away. Both were first round picks and their teams will be inclined to get them on the field. The other targets in Denver are more underwhelming than the ones in Detroit, and Denver might be more pass-inclined than Detroit. I expect neither to make a huge splash in year one, but they are the favorites here. Don't discount Josh Oliver in Jacksonville. He has little competition for immediate snaps and Nick Foles is starting at square one with his entire wide receiver and tight end group, save for some time on the same roster with Chris Conley, who he recruited to join the team. Jace Sternberger is a dark horse if Jimmy Graham struggles with injuries, or Irv Smith if Kyle Rudolph is traded. The answer doesn't change in PPR leagues.
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