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Daniel Bellinger?

Could efficient TE be value?

Darren Waller has officially retired, in one of the less surprising moves of the offseason. Now that he's definitely out of the picture, it's fair to wonder if we should be considering Daniel Bellinger more optimistically.

The former fourth-round pick will never make the impact that a healthy Waller -- i.e., Las Vegas Waller -- might have. Even looking at his college numbers, which entailed a total of 67 receptions for 761 yards and just 5 TDs across three seasons at San Diego State, he looks like a pretty modest option.

But two years into his NFL career, it seems that he can catch a short pass and pick up 7-8 yards before being brought down as well as the former Giant now playing his trade in Jacksonville, Evan Engram. That makes Bellinger a viable option in PPR leagues.

The last two seasons, Bellinger is one of 45 NFL tight ends to see at least 60 targets (63, actually). He's caught 55 of them. That 87 percent catch rate is the best of all those players. You don't get fantasy points for catch rate, but with no Waller and just a rookie fourth-rounder (Theo Johnson) competing with him, Bellinger will probably start and see plenty of targets in a fairly conservative passing game. Seems like a recipe for a nice second tight end in PPR leagues, and potentially a viable starter who will be available fairly late in drafts.

TIGHT END CATCH RATES, 2022-2023
PlayerTgtRecYdsAvgTDCatch
Daniel Bellinger, NYG63555239.5387.3%
Will Dissly, Sea.605152110.2485.0%
Dalton Kincaid, Buff.91736739.2280.2%
Durham Smythe, Mia.63504959.9279.4%
Evan Engram, Jac.24118717299.2877.6%
Cole Kmet, Chi.159123126310.31377.4%
Noah Fant, Sea.1068290011.0477.4%
Robert Tonyan, Chi.84645829.1276.2%
Trey McBride, Ari.14511010909.9475.9%
Tanner Hudson, Cin.65494849.9175.4%
Dallas Goedert, Phil.152114129411.4675.0%
Noah Gray, K.C.755660410.8474.7%
Travis Kelce, K.C.273203232211.41774.4%
Colby Parkinson, Sea.685056911.4473.5%
Jake Ferguson, Dall.1249093510.4772.6%
Austin Hooper, L.V.916667810.3272.5%
Sam LaPorta, Det.1208688910.31071.7%
Jonnu Smith, Atl.1087782710.7371.3%
George Kittle, S.F.176125178514.31771.0%
Harrison Bryant, Cle.62443207.3471.0%
T.J. Hockenson, Min.256181187410.41170.7%
Hayden Hurst, Car.100705988.5370.0%
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Ten.1238697811.4469.9%
Gerald Everett, LAC1571099668.9769.4%
Irv Smith, Cin.62432976.9369.4%
Dawson Knox, Buff.1017070310.0869.3%
Hunter Henry, N.E.1208392811.2869.2%
David Njoku, Cle.203139151010.91068.5%
Tyler Conklin, NYJ17411911739.9368.4%
Darren Waller, NYG1178094011.8468.4%
Foster Moreau, N.O.795461311.4368.4%
Mark Andrews, Balt.174118139111.81167.8%
Kylen Granson, Ind.906167011.0167.8%
Logan Thomas, Was.139948198.7567.6%
Jordan Akins, Cle.775262712.1567.5%
Cade Otton, T.B.132898469.5667.4%
Tyler Higbee, LAR17811911159.4566.9%
Zach Ertz, Ari.112745938.0566.1%
Isaiah Likely, Balt.1006678411.9866.0%
Tommy Tremble, Car.64423688.8665.6%
Dalton Schultz, Hou.177116121210.41065.5%
Pat Freiermuth, Pitt.14595104010.9465.5%
Juwan Johnson, N.O.1247987611.11163.7%
Mike Gesicki, N.E.97616069.9762.9%
Kyle Pitts, Atl.14981102312.6554.4%

The bottom player in this table catches the eye. No tight end with 60-plus targets the last two seasons caught a lower percentage of those balls than the earliest tight end ever drafted. I'm aware he had some lousy quarterbacking and was coming off injury and such, but that's kind of ugly anyway. I think Pitts has a lot to prove this year; hopefully the removal of Arthur Smith and addition of Kirk Cousins helps that happen.

--Andy Richardson

Image: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

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