One of the continual challenges for fantasy football managers over the past several seasons has been the lack of depth at the tight end position.
Outside of a select few (led by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce), most available options have been inconsistent at best.
As a result, it behooves managers preparing for their drafts to check on every potential option, including Patriots tight end Hunter Henry.
Henry, 28, seemed poised for a strong season in 2022. Following his first campaign in New England in which he caught nine touchdowns (with 603 receiving yards), it was logical to expect he would continue to have a central role as a red zone target.
Yet like the rest of last year’s Patriots offense, Henry took a step back. Coming off a year in which he made just 41 catches for 509 yards and two touchdowns (TE21 in half-PPR leagues), Henry’s stock is currently low.
His current ADP in half-PPR leagues is 215, putting him at the very bottom of most drafts at best. So, in a sense, Henry may not even be worth drafting.
Still, amid a dearth of tight end production, Henry could become a value-play either late in a draft or as a free agent pickup.
“I do think Hunter Henry could be a serviceable week to week option in this offense, especially in the red zone,” noted Patriots reporter Phil Perry in an interview with the Rotoworld Football Show earlier in August. “He clearly, to me, has Mac Jones’s trust.”
NBC Sports fantasy analyst Matthew Berry has also advocated for Henry.
“I’m going to call it right now. I think Hunter Henry has a great year,” Berry told Perry at the start of preseason. “He’s not being drafted as [a top-10 tight end]. People actually are drafting Mike Gesicki ahead of Hunter Henry. Now, the injury may change that, but up until like a day ago, Gesicki was going ahead of Hunter Henry in drafts, and I think that’s a mistake.”
To Berry’s point, Gesicki — another tight end who signed as a free agent with the Patriots during the offseason — is still carrying a higher ADP (202) than Henry. Gesicki suffered a dislocated shoulder in training camp but recently returned to the practice field.
“Hunter Henry very quietly led the team in end zone targets last year,” Berry explained. “There’s a connection there. I understand he’s having a strong camp. I really like Hunter Henry this season.”
Earlier in training camp, Henry was described as Jones’s “go-to target” in the red zone by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, an indication that he could return closer to his 2021 touchdown total than his much smaller tally a year ago.
Before getting too excited about the possibility of a fantasy-relevant tight end being available at the end of the drafts, remember that Henry is tied to the Patriots offense, a unit that finished 26th in yards in 2022 and in the lower half of the league in most other categories.
The role of Gesicki could also prove tricky from a fantasy standpoint. But if Jones can reach a higher level in the passing game in the upcoming season, there should be plenty of opportunity for Henry. With Jakobi Meyers gone (taking with him a team-leading 96 targets), Jones will be looking for other pass-catchers to step up.
And again, the word from training camp is that he’s become a safety valve for Jones.
“His connection with Jones has been the most consistent in camp,” wrote Boston Herald Patriots reporter Andrew Callahan on Wednesday.
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