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Mike Gesicki vs Noah Fant: A Flaw in Market Pricing

Mike Gesicki vs Noah Fant: A Flaw in Market Pricing
Ricky.sanders15@gmail.com April 9, 2020 1:36PM EDT

Mike Gesicki vs Noah Fant: A Flaw in Market Pricing

Noah Fant (DEN) and Mike Gesicki (MIA) were drafted a year apart and, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, they are amongst the top 11 dynasty tight end (TE) targets. While Fant owns an average draft position (ADP) of 94.0 in dynasty leagues, Gesicki is being selected almost 33 picks later on average. The two were both considered the athletic freaks at their position in their respective drafts and the question this raises is why is there such a discrepancy between ADPs? Let’s take a look:

99th Percentile Athletic Profiles 

Distinguishing between the athletic profiles of two of the game’s most athletically gifted players is a tough proposition. Whereas Mike Gesicki posted a ridiculous 97th percentile SPARQ score at the combine, Fant was not far behind at the 94th percentile. Each player also ranked in at least the 96th percentile in every one of the year 40-yard dash, speed score, burst score, agility score and catch radius categories, per playerprofiler.com. The difference in height is noteworthy as Gesicki stands a full two inches taller than Fant despite weighing virtually the same weight (Gesicki is listed as two pounds heavier). Essentially, the two are about as athletic as any TE in the league, and neither are lacking in the God-given gift department.

Noah Fant vs Mike Gesicki: College and Professional Results

Another metric tracked by playerprofiler.com is “college dominator rating” which shows the percentage of a team’s total receiving yards and receiving yards he accumulated in college. For a TE, anything over 30-percent is considered “extraordinary,” and Fant was the only one of the two who exceeded that landmark (30.4-percent). To be fair, Fant played with a decent quarterback Nathan Stanley whereas Gesicki played with Trace McSorley who was a true pro prospect (McSorley was drafted 197th overall by the Ravens last year). Gesicki did not dominate his team performance like Fant did on a one-man offense but the 2017 Penn State Nittany Lions also featured pros Saquon Barkley (NYG), Miles Sanders (PHI) and DaeSean Hamilton (DEN).

As rookies in the NFL, Fant clearly edged out Gesicki in terms of productivity their first season, as his 562 receiving yards were the fifth-most by a rookie in 15 years. By comparison, Gesicki only managed 202 receiving yards as a rookie, but he also played just 43.5-percent of snaps while Nick O’Leary (LVR) played over 40.4-percent of the snaps as well. The Broncos fully committed to Fant from day one which should help in the experience department but also gave him the edge to Gesicki to rack up the statistics; Fant played 68.7-percent of the Broncos offensive snaps in 2019. In year two, Gesicki took a step up in terms of his role on the offense as he played 65.0-percent of the team’s snaps and scored five times over the course of his team’s final six games. Over the second half of the year, Gesicki played 72.7-percent of the team’s snaps and acted as a true starter, as he finally clearly eclipsed O’Leary as top man on the totem pole. In other words, when given an extended opportunity, Gesicki averaged nearly 12 DraftKings (DK) fantasy points per game (over a nine-game span) despite playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA). For what little it is worth, Gesicki posted a full-season pace of 60 receptions (RECs), 644 yards and 10 receiving TDs over the second half of the year, and he did so at only 24-years old.

Fant and Gesicki Team Contexts

Drew Lock (DEN) is going to receive an extended look as the QB1 on the Broncos in the short term after leading the team to a 4-1 stint in the final five games of last season. In his final two years in college, he threw a combined 72 TDs at Missouri to just 21 interceptions (INTs), and he was considered a solid prospect who was drafted 42nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Although he slid into the second round, he showed last year he was by far the most efficient passer on the team, posting an 89.7 QB rating and 64.1-percent completion percentage in his five games as a starter. Courtland Sutton (DEN) is firmly planted as the team’s top receiver, as it was last year, but other aspects of the team context are set to change immediately. Melvin Gordon (DEN) has been brought in to headline the rushing attack and the team will almost assuredly look for a receiving complement to Sutton as the DaeSean Hamilton (DEN) experiment has been mostly a failure. In the five games playing alongside Lock, Fant garnered just a 9.2-percent target market share, which was a significant drop him his 13.7-percent overall.

To be fair, Fant was banged up during that stretch (dealing with a shoulder issue) and a five-game sample for an elite athlete is by no means definitive. Either way, it is concerning that Joe Flacco (DEN) seemed to look his way a lot more than Lock (15.8-percent target share in games with Flacco).  Furthermore, the Pat Shurmur (Offensive Coordinator) system is expected to focus on the TE a bit more, as evident by his results since 2013 working with TEs the likes of Zach Ertz (PHI), Kyle Rudolph (MIN) in his prime and Evan Engram (NYG). There is certainly room for a step-up in Fant’s second professional season.

The Miami QB situation is completely up-in-the-air and almost assuredly will be decided in the 2020 NFL Draft. Rumors have Tua Tagovailoa headed the way of the Dolphins but others have speculated the Dolphins could move up to the number one spot and take Joe Burrow as well. The likeliest outcome, at least according to Vegas, is the team landing Tagovailoa (-110 as his landing spot) and he projects as the most accurate QB in the draft.

Some scouts have compared his style of play to that of Drew Brees (NO) after he completed 71.4-percent of his passes in his final year at Alabama and threw 33 TDs to just three INTs. Mind you, he was playing alongside arguably the most plentiful crop of offensive talent, but he can only be considered an upgrade from Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA). Amongst QBs who played at least 20-percent of their respective team’s snaps last year, Fitzpatrick posted the 27th best QB rating, being edged out by the likes of Joe Flacco (DEN) and Jacoby Brissett (IND).

With a clean pocket, Fitzpatrick posted almost identical numbers to Flacco as well, which really tells the full story. Hell, even under pressure he was neck-and neck with Flacco in terms of completion percentage an QB rating. Basically, Fitzpatrick was a more mobile Flacco. With five picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft and 15 picks overall, the team will have a chance to fill some of their offensive needs, which is an extensive list. Not only does the team need QB help but could use an offensive tackle and a running back (RB) upgrade slash future prospect to complement Jordan Howard (MIA). This situation has a lot more up in the air than the Broncos, but in a similar fashion, the team has a potential standout target in their young TE to build around.

Who Wins: Noah Fant or Mike Gesicki? 

The two are undoubtedly always going to be spoken about in the same breath due to their monstrous abilities and the fact that they came out of college one year apart. However, it appears the market is valuing them in the opposite order of what makes sense at this juncture. Fant is being selected before Gesicki in both seasonal and dynasty leagues but, despite being a year younger, Gesicki’s context is more reliable.

While Lock was a solid value for the Broncos, the Dolphins landing Tagovailoa would give them the edge at long-term QB stability. Even in the short term if that were to be his landing spot, Gesicki would either benefit from the Tagovailoa accuracy or continue to play with Fitzpatrick once again (whom he excelled with).

The nightmare scenario for Gesicki would be Justin Herbert being the Dolphins QB of choice and, if drafting now, that would be the reason to devalue the stud TE ever-so-slightly. Both should be amongst the top 10 TE targets in both seasonal and dynasty but Gesicki deserves to be drafted higher in all formats when taking all factors into consideration. If Tagovailoa ends up as the Dolphins top draft pick, his stock should sky-rocket even higher.

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