We are now asking that all passengers of the Adam Trautman train who boarded via the Yin-Yang Tight End Article, please exit the coach at your nearest convenience and board the Juwan Johnson Express. The Adam Trautman train is in imminent danger. Thank you.

The Bet

The bet here has always been two fold in that a new tight end will take over the Jared Cook role in the Saints offense and that that role would be more fantasy relevant in 2021.

Contrary to recent outcomes, the Jared Cook role in that offense is a good one. Here are some interesting stats pertaining to how Jared Cook was used in 2021;

  • 66.5% of his snaps were played at wide receiver. That was the fourth highest of any tight end.
  • 22% of his snaps were actually split all the way out wide, not just in the slot. That was second only to Travis Kelce.
  • Cook’s average depth of target was 12.4 yards. THAT was third only behind Dan Arnold and OJ Howard.
  • Cook was also only asked to block on four pass plays all year. That’s 1.18%, which was second best only behind Mark Andrews (who also only blocked four times but just played more snaps).

As far as the second part of the bet, the role being more prevalent this year, a lot of that was speculation based on two things. One was that Emmanuel Sanders was gone and they didn’t sign anyone to replace him. The other was that Drew Brees was a more conservative quarterback in his later years and spent a lot of time forcing the ball to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The next quarterback would have his own agenda. Of course, that is highly dependent on who actually wins that QB job as Taysom Hill’s agenda seems to be ruining everything we know and love about fantasy football. Jameis Winston on the other hand is our favorite kind of QB in terms of entertainment value as his agenda seems to be to close his surgically repaired eyes and heave the ball as far down field as he can.

So that was all already happening. Then the fantasy gods themselves intervened. Michael Thomas decided to ignore his doctor’s advice the same way the rest of us ignore the warning on a package of Q-Tips. In his case, that led to him having knee surgery incredibly late in the offseason, likely resulting in him missing at least half the year. People forget that Darren Waller wasn’t supposed to be the top target on his team, that was supposed to be Antonio Brown, but a handful of assaults and racial slurs and spray painted helmets and frozen feet later and Waller was all of a sudden THE guy. The fantasy lords work in mysterious ways.

Our Wager

We were initially betting on Adam Trautman for that role. They were comfortable enough to move on from Cook. He was a third round pick that produced well in college. The stars had seemingly aligned. One small issue though was that he didn’t really do much in 15 games last year, catching just 15 passes, but we were chalking that up to his role in that offense while his role would be changed this year. Except, so far, it hasn’t. 

It’s only preseason, we know that.  “Games don’t count dur hur”.  But with some teams, we are getting a pretty good glimpse of what these guys’ roles are, and so far Adam Trautman’s usage has been flat out atrocious. In his limited capacity, he’s played on 13 pass plays and he’s been asked to block on five of them. That’s an astounding 38% in this small sample size. That’s the same percentage of pass plays that Chris Mahertz blocked on last season for the Panthers. Not only that, but we mentioned earlier that five pass blocking snaps is more than the four pass blocking snaps Jared Cook had last year DURING THE ENTIRE SEASON. Forget the fact that Adam Trautman got hurt in the game and we don’t have a time table yet, that’s obviously not good for his value, but it’s not nearly as bad as what we saw BEFORE that happened. When he was on the field, his usage was terrible for fantasy. So what’s the play now?

Juwan Johnson

If you are a tight end fan like myself you lie in bed at night dreaming of two types of players: converted basketball players and converted wide receivers. It’s no secret that some of the best tight ends in NFL history have come from those backgrounds, so if there is a 6’4”, 231 pound wide receiver who bulks up to 240 to play tight end, he has to be on our radar. That’s exactly what Juwan Johnson is.

Forget that he never played tight end in college and forget that he bounced around the Saints practice squad last year as a wide receiver. When you take that athleticism and compare it to other tight ends, he’s now an upper echelon athlete at that position. Here is his athletic profile via PlayerProfiler;

Because of that athleticism, he won’t be asked to block. We don’t want Adam Trautman in the Josh Hill role. We want the guy playing the Jared Cook role, which is technically a tight end but plays 66% of his snaps at WR. Here is how the snaps broke down last year with the pass blocking and overall blocking percentages for the main three tight ends for the Saints;

Here is how the snaps have broken down thus far in preseason. I know it’s a small sample size, but the pattern that is emerging here is pretty clear;

See 2020 Adam Trautman and Josh Hill? That’s what 2021 Adam Trautman has looked like so far. See 2020 Jared Cook? That’s what 2021 Juwan Johnson has looked like so far. If that doesn’t make things crystal for you, picture Adam Trautman as the black safety barrier rope in this gif below. Number 83 would be Juwan Johnson.

There is one last incredibly important detail to this PSA however. Because he converted from wide receiver to tight end, TE eligibility has not been added for him on many platforms like Yahoo yet. So Juwan Johnson is currently one of the poster children for the Yin & Yang Tight End strategy as, if you want to draft him, you are going to need to pair him with a safe tight end to start for a couple weeks until that eligibility is updated, and keep in mind that there is no guarantee he does receive eligibility if he’s lining up at WR a ton. So be warned. I’ve been campaigning Yahoo to add TE eligibility for Jacob Harris for two months now with no results so keep bugging them.

Updates have been made to the Yin-Yang TE article and the Yin-Yang TE Cheat Sheet in the draft guide. If you want updates like this even faster, follow me on Twitter @CoopAFiasco!