Tyler Higbee isn’t a household name, but his fantasy potential for 2020 is sky high. He just inked a 31 million dollar deal that makes him the tenth-highest paid tight end in all of football. However, in 2018 he put up just 24 receptions for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t even a ‘good’ receiving tight end that year. Even more surprising was the fact that on September 5th, 2019, (before the start of the season), Higbee signed that massive deal. As a fan, I was pretty surprised by that number. Especially when you consider that Everett actually had more yards (320) and touchdowns (3) in the 2018 season. Not to mention how Everett was a second round pick in 2017 and Higbee was a fourth rounder in 2016. Given how I live on the East Coast, I don’t watch a ton of Rams games so when I looked at the statlines of the two players prior to the 2019 season I thought it made no sense that Higbee got this massive deal while Everett, who appeared to be better, got no such extension.
This past season everything seemed to change. Well, not at first. His first ten games were of the same old 2018 Higbee. He was on pace for 42 receptions for 342 yards and two touchdowns. Higbee, once again, was just a mediocre receiving tight end and pretty much all but irrelevant in terms of fantasy. Then, in weeks 11-15, Higbee became a completely different player. He averaged 8.6 receptions for 104.4 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game. On a 16 game pace, Higbee would have put up the ridiculous statline of 138 receptions for 1670 yards and six touchdowns. On top of this, Higbee, through the 15 games he actually played, led all tight ends in red zone targets (19) and was sixth for all pass catchers. Higbee looked like a top ten tight end in the league without a doubt those five weeks. It is important to note that Everett was hurt in weeks 12-15 which was when Higbee thrived.
The biggest risk, in my opinion, with drafting Higbee in fantasy is how much of an impact Everett will have for the Rams. Something interesting to remember about the Rams’ is with the Brandin Cooks trade, there are 72 vacated targets in the offense now. This means that even with Everett healthy, Higbee could still get his fair share of targets. With an ADP of 84.7 and TE9 there is definitely risk that comes with taking Higbee. Yet, I do think that money talks. The Rams will want the guy they paid big money to to be earning his contract. I do not think it is as even a timeshare as it was last year with Everett. Last year, Higbee played 62.70% of offensive snaps whereas Everett played 40.0% of snaps. I believe that the talent that Higbee displayed in those five weeks will be enough to convince Sean McVay that he is deserving of more touches in the 2020 season. I can’t say that when you take him in the eighth round you are getting a bonafide TE1 who you can set and forget about. If you want to draft him, you have to understand the risk that comes along with Higbee. Personally, I am going to try and invest in Higbee this season because if he can be even half of what he was in weeks 11-15, he’s a top eight tight end without a doubt.