Coastal Carolina University has had six offensive players compete in the NFL, and only one was selected before Round 4 of the NFL Draft. TE Isaiah Likely could become their most accomplished offensive professional player ever (a title currently held by Mike Tolbert). Could Likely bring consistent value to dynasty fantasy football managers during his impending NFL career, and if so, how should managers assess him after he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens?
Isaiah Likely’s dynasty fantasy profile
With the Chanticleers, Likely averaged more receptions and yards per game in each successive season. Which factors could impact his fantasy floor and ceiling in the NFL?
In Likely’s NFL Draft scouting report, PFN colleague Oli Hodgkinson tagged the Coastal Carolina TE as his No. 1 incoming rookie tight end as recently as January. That declaration sets the stage for the 6’5″, 245-pounder, who in his junior year led all Sun Belt TEs in receiving yards and was No. 3 among all conference receivers in yards per reception.
Likely saved his best for last in 2021 with an incredible 59-912-12 receiving line. For context, these numbers placed him in the top 50 nationwide in receiving yards and among the top 15 in receiving touchdowns.
Likely’s core strengths include versatility, physicality on contested plays, and sure hands. He can line up anywhere and has even been used in motion from the backfield. His ability to outmuscle defenders bodes well at the NFL level, while his pass-catching prowess could help him transform into a four-down weapon.
Physically, Likely has what it takes to be a successful NFL tight end, with enough long speed to take on linebackers in intermediate and deep zones. He’s also a terrific run-after-catch threat and has shown big-play ability since his freshman campaign.
We have to play devil’s advocate, and in this case, a major question concerns how much Likely’s abilities will translate at the NFL level. His senior-year breakout consisted of eight matchups against Sun Belt opponents. Their six conference victories were against teams with a combined 23-49 record.
Additionally, he’s competed against two top-25 teams during his collegiate career. As a junior against ranked BYU, Likely mustered only 3 catches for 28 scoreless yards. He fared much better three weeks later against Liberty, though the Chanticleers were missing two of their top three wideouts (Kameron Brown and Samuel Denmark).
Against far stiffer NFL competition, can Likely make waves? He’s not a particularly adept blocker (yet). Additionally, as Oli has pointed out, he “can be prone to round off his routes.” At the NFL level, he’ll need tighter route running to create space and garner looks.
Likely is also quite slow, running a 4.88 adjusted 40-yard dash time. His speed and agility scores are in the bottom 20 percentiles.
Likely’s injury history
In 2020, a lower-body injury sidelined Likely for a huge showdown against the eventual 10-1 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. However, there are no warning signs regarding Likely’s health heading into the NFL Draft.
Likely’s dynasty value with the Ravens
Well, this is not great for Likely. You can close the book on him having any fantasy value early in his career.
The Ravens already have an established elite TE1 in Mark Andrews. His presence alone combined with the Ravens’ run-first offense would make it highly unlikely that Likely has any early fantasy value. In addition, the Ravens also drafted TE Charlie Kolar a mere nine picks earlier.
Likely being better than Kolar wouldn’t be the first time the Ravens drafted tight ends in the wrong order. After all, for some reason, they drafted Hayden Hurst prior to Andrews before quickly correcting that and taking the superior prospect.
With that said, Likely is going to open his rookie season as the Ravens’ TE3 — at best. There is no path for him to matter in fantasy as a rookie, and I don’t see anything changing in the coming years. At this point, I would not even recommend drafting him in dynasty rookie drafts.