The Seahawks have a mix of options at tight end with established vets like Greg Olsen and young standouts like Will Dissly. Who will emerge to lead the group as a tight end flyer in 2020?
Tight end is the most complicated fantasy football position to make sense of in 2020.
There are elite players at the position such as Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz and Mark Andrews. Then, there are tight end situations on teams to avoid at all costs, like the Cardinals, Patriots and Bears.
The biggest questions come in the middle of the pack. If you don’t draft one of the better tight ends early, you are left trying to figure out which team and player gives you best the opportunity to break out. One of the most interesting of those options is the Seattle Seahawks.
Will one of their three solid options emerge to be a TE1 in 2020, or will they just steal opportunities from each other? Is there a tight end flyer you can take a chance on?
Who is in the Tight End Room?
Returning players from the Seahawks’ 2019 roster include second-year standout Will Dissly and former Patriot, Jacob Hollister. After starting the first 6 games, Dissly went down with a season-ending injury, and Hollister stepped in to start.
The new contender, joining these two for playing time in 2020, is long-time Panther, Greg Olsen. Signed to a one-year, $7 million deal this off-season after spending the previous 9 years in Carolina, the 35-year-old Olsen brings an established veteran presence to Seattle’s TE group.
The rest of the room consists of three rookies, most notably Colby Parkinson, drafted out of Stanford in the fourth round.
Olsen had the best 2019 season of the bunch. He finished with 597 receiving yards on 52 catches and two touchdowns in 14 games. It’s worth noting that Carolina had a backup quarterback under center for most of the season.
Olsen finished as the TE13, but had just two weeks with double-digit points. Both his touchdowns came in the same game against the Cardinals, who were notoriously terrible defending against tight ends.
Neither Dissly nor Hollister had amazing seasons, each staying under 100 fantasy points on the year. Dissly had 23 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns in just six games. Hollister had 41 catches for 349 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games.
Pairing their production together to create one stat line – as Hollister was not targeted until Dissly’s injury – it looks a lot more impressive. Those two combined for the seventh-best fantasy season from the position, 0.3 points ahead of Jared Cook. Not bad from a tight end flyer.
A safety valve for any quarterback, sure hands and a high catch percentage are critical traits for a tight end.
Olsen’s career catch percentage is 61.7 percent. He has had only two seasons below 62 percent in Carolina, one of which was shortened by injury. Last year he recorded a 63.4 percent catch rate, showing that he has not slowed down, despite his age. To put Olsen’s hands in historical context, Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez, widely regarded as the greatest tight end of all time, registered a career catch percentage of 65.9.
The other two tight end options in Seattle also boast impressive stats, however, from much smaller sample sizes.
Hollister’s mark of 65.3 percent is on just 75 targets in his three-year career. Targeted 59 times last year, he had a 69.5 catch percentage.
Dissly has a career 75.6 catch percentage but has only played in 10 games. His catch rate last year was even better, successfully reeling in 23 of his 27 targets for an 85.2 percent mark. While the hands are there, the reliability question when it comes to Dissly is, can he stay on the field. He has missed 22 games in his relatively short career. No matter how good he is at catching the ball, he can’t do that injured and not playing.
The red-zone is the area where tight ends thrive. Using their big frames to create mismatches, they rack up touchdowns.
Through his short career Dissly has been excellent in the red-zone. He has caught six of his seven red-zone targets. Even more impressive, every one of those was a touchdown.
Although he did not have the same perfect touchdown percentage, Hollister was also productive in 2019. Catching six total passes and all three of his touchdowns in red-zone offense, he quickly became a go-to target for Russell Wilson. He had 11 targets in that area of the field (including one of the most important plays of the season for Seattle). This placed him third on the team, behind only Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
Olsen filled a similar role on the Panthers last year. He had 12 red-zone targets, converting five of them into receptions, including two touchdowns. When serving as Cam Newton’s go-to target during the prime of their careers, Olsen consistently racked up double-digit red-zone targets. Not a bad resume from a tight end flyer.
Which Tight End Should You Target?
It is very likely Seattle uses all three tight ends throughout the season. Expect increased two-tight end sets this season, especially with Seattle lacking a solid third receiver.
I expect Olsen to end up with the most targets and receptions this season. He is a known commodity and someone that Wilson can rely on. A very intelligent player – demonstrated by his great performances in the booth – learning the offense will not be a problem for Olsen.
However, Olsen does not hold much fantasy value unless you find yourself streaming tight ends and he has a favorable match-up. Don’t spend draft capital on him in redraft or dynasty leagues.
Dissly has the best shot at beating out Olsen for the starting role, but he just cannot be relied on to stay healthy. He is the best bet to lead the three in touchdowns, especially if he manages to stay on the field for double-digit games. In dynasty leagues, Dissly holds the greatest value, with Olsen on a one-year deal and near retirement. He is a perfect buy-low candidate as a backup tight end flyer.
Barring injury to the players ahead of him, Hollister is likely relegated to third-tight end duties and not of use in most fantasy leagues.