Evan Engram had a career resurgence in his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now that he’s established himself as one of the few trustworthy tight ends in fantasy football, what can we expect from Engram in 2023?
2022 fantasy performance
Engram finished as fantasy’s TE5 in Points Per Reception formats and TE6 in non-PPR formats. Playing in the best setup of his six-year career, Engram set personal marks for receptions (73) and yards (766). Engram ranked behind only Travis Kelce, T.J. Hockenson, and Mark Andrews at the position in 2022.
The secret to his success was volume: Engram’s 17.1% target share ranked 14th among tight ends, but he ran more routes than anyone besides Kelce.
While he didn’t draw a heavy target share in general, Engram did serve as Jacksonville’s primary weapon in its quick pass game. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked first among his position group and fourth among all players in catches on RPOs. Engram also ranked second among tight ends in screen receptions. His heavy utilization near the line of scrimmage resulted in him leading all non-RBs with 493 yards on targets of five air yards or less.
Spinning through the Jaguars game and I really like this design to get Evan Engram free. It's an RPO with double slants to pick off the man coverage, and Engram is able to run away from defenders.— JP Acosta (Pug Dederson Stan Acct) (@acosta32_jp) December 23, 2022
Doug Pederson has been masterful in how he's used Engram's speed pic.twitter.com/DREaFKvxLs
Engram spent more time playing in-line than in the slot than one might expect for a receiving tight end, but according to Pro Football Focus, he did rank second in snaps (157) and fourth in snap rate (23.3%) lined up out wide. In other words, the Jaguars made sure to get him out in space to take advantage of his athleticism. Engram finished 18th among all players with 465 yards after the catch.
This type of usage is rare for a tight end. Production from the position, fantasy or otherwise, typically comes from red zone targets -- but Engram made his name as a dependable fantasy tight end last year by helping the Jaguars keep the ball moving between the 20s. He ranked 11th in touchdowns and 20th in red zone targets at his position in 2022.
Best-case scenario for 2023
The Jaguars struggled in the red zone as a team last year, so better efficiency in scoring situations (plus another jump from Trevor Lawrence) could turn this offense into a fantasy bonanza.
Worst-case scenario for 2023
The addition of Calvin Ridley has the worst collateral effect on Engram, who loses out on most of his quick-game gimmies and end zone looks.
Overall outlook for 2023
Though it’s tough to tell what kind of impact Ridley will have on each Jaguar, it’s likely that Engram, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones all enjoyed the best season of their careers in 2022.
That said, Engram is expected to maintain a high snap count in an offense that should only get better. He has one of the best roles in the league for his position. That makes him a strong option to consider in fantasy drafts once Kelce and Andrews are off the board.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Engram’s current Average Draft Position (ADP) in half-PPR mock drafts is 103rd overall, 10th among tight ends. I’m not convinced Darren Waller or Dalton Schultz should have a lower ADP, but I do think Engram is in a similar tier as T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, Dallas Goedert, and Pat Freiermuth. I’m planning on drafting whichever of those six tight ends falls the most in my own 2023 drafts.
Handcuff player recommendation
I would recommend not handcuffing Engram at all. Running back is the only position where you should look to draft backups in traditional season-long formats. If Engram misses game time for any reason, fantasy managers would find more success picking up a tight end from a different team rather than the next man up in Jacksonville.
Former fifth-round pick Luke Farrell has 96 career receiving yards through his first two seasons, and 2023 second-round pick Brenton Strange won’t have high expectations as a rookie. Both are bigger contributors in the running game than the passing attack, and their roles wouldn’t change much if Engram misses time — neither can be asked to run most of the routes that Engram does in Jacksonville’s scheme.
Other Jaguars players to consider
Trevor Lawrence is currently the eighth quarterback drafted in fantasy mocks with an ADP of 83rd overall. I’d recommend using a higher pick on a passer who offers more rushing upside (Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson) but if you miss out on the top crop of QBs, Lawrence is a great option, especially if you stack him with Engram or another Jaguars receiver. He ranked sixth in fantasy points after Jacksonville’s bye week last season and could have even better production in Year 2 with Doug Pederson and Year 1 with Calvin Ridley.
Speaking of which, Ridley is my favorite Jaguar to target in fantasy drafts in 2023. The general public remains skeptical that he can immediately return to All-Pro form, but those who’ve been paying attention in Jacksonville have only heard good things about Ridley’s long-awaited comeback. The fact that he hasn’t played an NFL game since October 2021 will make him an affordable option in fantasy drafts; his current ADP (95th) is slotted between Brandin Cooks and Gabriel Davis, neither of whom has close to the same ceiling.
Lawrence and Ridley have the best chance to outperform their ADPs, but Travis Etienne (21st) and Christian Kirk (73rd) are two more objectively good football players in a probable top-10 offense. Though they’re unlikely to receive elite levels of volume, you can count on the consistent efficiency of Etienne and/or Kirk to round out your fantasy squad.