Hunter Henry Jonnu Smith
Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith have joined the Patriots, but do they present fantasy value? (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

New England got busy in the offseason. After retaining Cam Newton, Belichick gave him some weapons in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. As we all know, the tight end position is a wasteland in terms of fantasy outside of a few elite options. So, with these signings, could there be new tight ends to roster in fantasy? The short answer, yes.

Hunter Henry has developed into a well-rounded tight end who can make plays in the passing game and is an excellent run-blocker. Two years ago, Henry looked like the next great tight end until injuries cut his progression short. Henry came back this past season and became a safety blanket for the rookie, Justin Herbert.

In 14 games, Henry garnered 60 catches for 613 yards and 4 touchdowns. Henry can find holes in coverage and can separate from linebackers across the middle. The main concern for Henry is his injury history. In his 5 year career, Henry has never played a full season, including missing the entire 2018 season due to a torn ACL.

Alternatively, Jonnu Smith excels as a pass-catcher and is less of a blocker. Smith has track speed, demonstrated on multiple catch-and-runs that he has taken to the house. Smith never really got a featured role in the Tennessee offense. Coming off his best season yet, Smith amassed just 448 yards and 8 touchdowns on 41 catches. Sharing snaps with fellow tight end Anthony Firkser in a run-first offense with Derrick Henry, Jonnu Smith has yet to show his full potential.

Both tight ends are in the primes of their career, and Cam Newton has been known to force-feed his tight ends. Back in Carolina, when Greg Olsen and Cam were both healthy, the two combined for three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons including 16 touchdowns in that span. Both Henry and Smith can create space in their routes, with Henry being an elite red-zone threat, and Smith shining after the catch.

The Patriots’ offense is primed to stray away from the abysmal showing last season. Newton dealt played through injuries all season as the Pats ended with the 3rd least passing yards in the league. A healthy Newton, a revamped offensive line, and two premier pass-catching tight ends will turn around the offense.

Expect New England to run a patented 12 personnel offense that features both Henry and Smith on the field at the same time. Both will be top red-zone options for a team that had the 9th lowest scoring rate when inside the twenty. The touchdowns will be there along with plenty of targets to go around. After targeting tight ends a league-low 31 times in 2020, Belichick clearly wants the position to be a focal point after signing the two tight ends.

Both tight ends find themselves on a Bill Belichick offense that has supported two top-tier tight ends before. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez once tore up opposing defenses in New England with both being tight end 1’s in terms of fantasy. Henry and Smith won’t’ quite live up to the same expectations, but either of the two could certainly hit upwards of double-digit touchdowns and over 700 receiving yards.

If Henry does deal with another injury-riddled season, that instantly makes Smith one of the top tight ends in fantasy considering his skill set and increased number of snaps. All in all, the Patriots offense doesn’t feature great options at the receiver or running back position but provides immense value with their new tight ends. After Kelce, Kittle, Waller, and Andrews look for Henry and Smith nearing the low-end TE1 tier for fantasy. If Henry or Smith were to go down, expect the other to blow up.

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