Fantasy Index

header banner img
CHEAT SHEET UPDATES: ON SALE NOW
Win here.

Factoid

Theo Johnson

Rookie TE has potential

It's hard to get excited about the Giants offense. Daniel Jones is coming off injury, and wasn't playing well even prior to getting hurt. The Giants were reportedly hoping to draft Drake Maye to replace him. But I do see a potential flier on their roster.

Certainly, Wan'Dale Robinson and top pick Malik Nabers merit at least some consideration. Robinson led the team with 60 receptions last year and may be ready to do more. Nabers was one of the draft's top wide receivers and sometimes those guys make an immediate impact even in lesser situations. Those guys should be the main wideouts.

But those of us playing in TE-premium formats, where tight ends get a point and a half per reception, can also think about rookie fourth-rounder Theo Johnson out of Penn State.

Johnson didn't put up huge numbers in college: just 34 catches for 310 yards last year. But 7 of those went for touchdowns. That's similar to his predecessor, Pat Freiermuth, who also was never a big producer in the offense (92 catches in three years), but 16 of them went for touchdowns. Freiermuth caught 60-plus passes each of his first two seasons for the Steelers, going for 732 yards in 2022. And the Giants, I think, would like to get their tight end involved in the passing game.

They traded for Darren Waller a year ago, but that didn't work out, with Waller missing a third of the season. He's reportedly mulling retirement, and the Giants aren't counting on him playing (factoring into the Johnson pick). They have Daniel Bellinger, but he's more of a blocker (and might not be great in either regard).

The Giants, of course, had an awful passing game last year -- better than only Carolina. But the silver lining is that the tight ends were a significant part of it, such as it was, a year ago. Only 10 offenses completed a higher percentage of passes to the tight end position than the Giants. Only five generated a higher percentage of their yards to those players. Overall numbers (receptions, yards, touchdowns) were low. But looked at in the larger context, at least it was a position where a strong share of the production went.

New York probably won't have a great passing offense, and it's not certain the beneficiary will be the rookie anyway. (Although we can at least say New York has a favorable history with rookie tight ends, albeit guys selected much earlier, Jeremy Shockey and Evan Engram.) But they should make an effort to get passes to the tight end position, and Johnson makes as much as sense as anyone else on their roster.

Table shows percent of the passing game going to tight ends on each team last year, sorted by yardage share.

TIGHT ENDS, PERCENT OF PASSING GAME (2023)
TeamRec (TE)Yards (TE)TD (TE)%Rec%Yds%TD
Arizona1321269537%40%28%
Atlanta1141380735%39%41%
Kansas City1261315830%31%29%
Minnesota1351367832%31%27%
Cleveland1091095931%30%38%
NY Giants81843224%29%13%
NY Jets87858124%29%9%
Baltimore8210421225%29%44%
New England84871924%28%56%
Jacksonville1321153532%28%23%
Chicago88860727%28%37%
San Francisco691064621%24%18%
Indianapolis70883620%24%33%
Detroit10110081125%23%37%
LA Chargers90854822%22%33%
Houston81899722%22%26%
Buffalo97885525%21%17%
Seattle74833320%21%13%
Tennessee65649221%21%14%
Washington85767421%21%17%
Carolina59561417%20%31%
Green Bay77793421%20%13%
Dallas83864719%20%19%
Cincinnati88686421%18%15%
Philadelphia68669318%17%13%
Pittsburgh62536219%17%15%
LA Rams62668317%16%12%
Las Vegas54548216%16%10%
New Orleans64600916%15%32%
Tampa Bay55505515%13%18%
Denver39362412%11%14%
Miami41414010%9%0%

As noted, Johnson was not a huge producer at Penn State, but there's some athleticism that likely caught the team's eye. At the combine, both his 40 times (4.57) and vertical leap (39.5) were 2nd among all tight ends who worked out. I don't want to beat the drum for the guy too loudly, but a player I'll be considering in my ongoing rookie draft, and watching in August.

--Andy Richardson

Fantasy Index