The hype surrounding the start of the NFL free agency period did not disappoint, and it has been a welcomed overall distraction from everything else that’s going on in the world. Some teams made some key signings while others pulled off blockbuster trades. A number of these moves will have huge fantasy impacts, particularly in dynasty leagues. Austin Hooper signing with the Cleveland Browns surely impacts that team as a whole. The trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals surely benefits Kyler Murray going forward. Other free-agent signings such as Todd Gurley to the Atlanta Falcons and Jordan Howard to the Miami Dolphins also raises each player’s value, respectively. One re-signing that has gone relatively unnoticed, however, but that should have a significant impact is Dallas Cowboys’ tight end Blake Jarwin inking a three-year deal worth up to $24.25 million, with $9.25 guaranteed. Let’s decipher Jarwin’s dynasty value, shall we?
Jarwin’s career as a backup
Going into 2019, Jarwin was expected to be the guy at tight end for the Cowboys. Surprisingly, however, Jason Witten decided to come out of retirement and the Monday Night Football booth to return to his former team after a one-year absence, moving Jarwin back into a more secondary role. During Witten’s retirement in the 2018 season, Jarwin shared time with Geoff Swaim as the team’s leading tight end pass catchers. Swaim was ultimately the starter but was placed on injured reserve for Dallas’ final four games with a wrist injury.
Jarwin used this time to showcase that he could be the team’s number one TE. In those final four games, he totaled 20 receptions off of 25 targets for 228 yards, including three touchdowns in Week 17. He averaged a 56 snap percentage during those four games, compared to just a 28 percent average in the 12 games prior.
Last year alongside Witten, Jarwin averaged a 38.5 snap percentage. His numbers for 2019 were fairly similar to those he had in 2018, finishing with 31 receptions for 365 yards and 3 touchdowns. All things considered, those numbers are really not that bad for a backup tight end. Fantasy owners should have taken note that he could be a viable option if he was ever given the starting nod.
Time to shine
When Swaim jumped to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2019 offseason, it should have been Jarwin’s time to shine in Dallas as the Cowboys’ TE1. However, Witten’s return delayed that possibility. Now that Witten has signed a two-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, Jarwin’s time as the lead tight end is inevitable. All of the other notable tight end free agents are off the board, and with Jarwin’s new long-term deal it shows that the Cowboys are betting on Jarwin’s abilities as the starting tight end.
It’s important to note that the Cowboys could address tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft. PFN’s own Neal Driscoll even indicated that the team would take one in his latest post-free agency seven-round mock draft. If the Cowboys do elect to draft a tight end, dynasty owners should still not be worried. Rookie tight ends rarely produce fantasy production as it typically takes time for the player to learn the system and get accustomed to the NFL level.
Grab him in your dynasty league now
It’s possible that Jarwin is available in your dynasty league at this moment. If that is the case, go grab him now. His value is continuing to rise following his new deal, and will only continue to trend in that direction as other fantasy owners begin to notice. Jarwin’s deal virtually went under the radar as the national media continued to talk about the Hopkins’ trade, Tom Brady’s departure from the Patriots, and Hooper’s signing in Cleveland, among other things.
The truth is that Jarwin’s dynasty value could and should reflect a TE1 in 2020. Some fantasy podcasts this week jokingly said that they owned Jarwin in their dynasty leagues but that they had completely forgotten he was even on their teams. That’s because before his new deal Jarwin had practically been forgotten. That’s why if he’s still available, it’s important to grab him now while everyone else is napping.
Personally, I grabbed Jarwin in the middle of last year off of the waiver wire with this scenario in mind. Truthfully, I thought that Witten would retire again — but his move to the Raiders nets the same result. I’ve even had a few trade offers for Jarwin from a couple of league mates, but I’d suggest holding onto him for the time being.
Tight ends are hard to come by, and even more so in dynasty formats where streaming is not really an option. The 2020 class of tight ends is nothing to be excited about, so if you’re able to snag the 25-year-old Jarwin or have him already sitting on the edge of your bench consider yourself fortunate: Jarwin’s dynasty value has never been higher.
Eric Frosbutter is a writer and editor for Pro Football Network covering fantasy football. You can follow him @efrosbutterPFN on Twitter.