Dawson Knox is coming off a breakout season in 2021. He’s on one of the league’s best offenses with one of the league’s best quarterbacks. With a wealth of talent around him, Knox will never be the focal point of an offense, but he can still be a quality TE1. Thus, how should dynasty fantasy football managers value Knox in 2022 and beyond?
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Dawson Knox’s dynasty profile for 2022
The Bills drafted Knox at the end of the third round in 2019, but he spent his first two seasons not doing a whole lot. Knox averaged 5.3 and 5.6 PPR fantasy points per game in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Given the Bills’ elite offense, Knox was a trendy late-round sleeper tight end ahead of the 2021 season. He proved worthy of the label as he took a big step forward in his third NFL season. Knox averaged 10.9 ppg in 2021, finishing as the TE9 (minimum eight games played).
Knox enters 2022 as the clear starting tight end for the Bills. However, this is a passing team with a ton of weapons. Is Knox’s production sustainable? Can he take another step forward?
Let’s dive in and figure out how dynasty managers should value Knox going forward.
Fantasy projection for Knox
Where did Knox improve from 2020 to 2021? The most important area is target share. In 2020, Knox saw just a 9.7% target share, but that spiked to 13.2% in 2021. While it’s still not a large percentage, it led to more volume as Josh Allen attempted 646 passes last season. The Bills will continue to be a pass-first offense, making a 13% target share valuable.
Knox also improved his catch rate from 55% to 69%. This was less him and more Allen as Knox’s catchable target rate went from 70.5% to 81.7%.
In addition to volume, the biggest catalyst behind Knox’s ascent in fantasy was touchdowns. After scoring 5 times over his first two seasons, Knox found the end zone 9 times in 2021 alone. My concern is whether this is sustainable.
Knox scored a touchdown on 18.4% of his receptions, one of the highest rates in the league. I don’t ever see Knox becoming a feature part of this passing game. His volume numbers from 2021 are likely his ceiling. He needs the touchdowns to continue. While I do think they can, it places fantasy managers in a tricky spot because they will need to. Even a moderate decrease in TD rate would see Knox fall out of the ranks of the TE1s.
What is Knox’s future beyond 2022?
As of now, Knox’s future is unclear. He will be just 26 years old by the end of this season, so he’s got plenty of football left in him. However, he’s currently on the final year of his rookie deal and will become a free agent next March if he doesn’t receive an extension.
I have yet to see any concrete news reports of the Bills and Knox talking of an extension. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, though.
If Knox leaves Buffalo, it will almost certainly be a downgrade. It’s possible a team with a weaker corps of pass catchers brings on Knox to give him a more prominent role in the passing game, but I don’t see that as a likely outcome.
The best spot for Knox is the one he has right now. Dynasty managers should be rightly concerned about where he ends up as it will impact his value. At the same time, since he’s so young, it would be unwise to make any rash decisions based upon something we neither know nor control.
What can fantasy managers expect from Knox?
I view Knox as a TD-dependent back-end TE1. That’s not a negative. Most tight ends are reliant upon touchdowns to produce.
The real takeaway is that Knox is replaceable in fantasy. Given his age, it’s certainly possible he continues to progress and emerges into a more stable fantasy force. That’s not my read on him, but I’ve been wrong before.
It’s not that difficult to find 10 ppg at the tight end position. If there’s a manager in your dynasty league that values Knox as significantly better than a replacement-level/streamer tight end, it might be best to trade him for plus value. At the same time, it’s also not as easy to find usable tight ends on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues as it is in redraft, so don’t go giving Knox away unnecessarily.
Knox should maintain fantasy value for the foreseeable future, likely as a back-end TE1. When he scores, you’ll be happy you started him. When he doesn’t, you’ll be left at a matchup disadvantage. Such is life for non-elite tight ends.