There are a few reasons to like Njoku going into his second year. He was somewhat productive in his rookie year, catching 32 balls on 60 targets – a catch rate you can blame on terrible QB play; only 75% of his targets were catchable, which ranked 29th for tight ends. Those 60 targets came from an offense that hasn’t targeted the tight end much; during Hue Jackson’s play-calling tenure, the Browns targeted the tight end on only 11% of pass plays. Now that Todd Haley will be calling plays, that number should go up, especially with the type of pass-catching talent they have in Njoku. He should be on the field a lot more in his second year – he only played on 47% of snaps last season, but shined when he did get opportunity, especially when he was faced with contested catches; he ranked 4th at the position in hauling them in. He did stay in to block a lot, running routes on only 42% of pass plays, but the Browns didn’t draft him in the first round to block.
At least we know that Tyrod Taylor favors his tight ends, and he’ll be the guy behind center to start their season. There are obviously a ton of weapons on that offense, so it’s tough to envision all of them being fantasy relevant. There’s a good chance that Tyrod does what he did in Buffalo – and that’s dump it down to Duke Johnson, find his big target in the middle of the field in Njoku, and find his big target down the field in Josh Gordon. It’ll be tough to envision him keeping both Jarvis Landry and Gordon afloat for fantasy, because that means going through his progressions, which I’ve never seen him do well. There’s a good chance he finds a comfort zone in those three targets. In 2016, Charles Clay led the Bills in targets from Tyrod – and that’s with Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin each getting their share.
Njoku’s ADP is sitting between the 12th and 13th rounds, and at that price, he’s low risk and worth the kind of upside he possesses. First round tight ends usually take a step forward in their 2nd year after a usually tough adjustment for the position. I’m very comfortable streaming tight ends, so if Njoku doesn’t work out, I’ll be fine. Who’s your favorite late round target at TE?