The Case Against Ben Sinnott and For Ja’Tavion Sanders in Best Ball Drafts

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Only true best ball sickos are debating the value of rookie tight ends in May. But if you are a true sicko like us, you’ve come to the right place. Today’s case I want to make is AGAINST TE Ben Sinnott’s price and the case FOR TE Ja’Tavion Sanders’ price in best ball drafts.

Let me start by giving the disclaimer that I’m a diehard Washington fan, often considered a bit delusional. I tend to overdraft Washington players in best ball. And while I love the new ownership, new GM, and new HC in Dan Quinn, 30 years of pain has made me a little less delusional and a little more realistic.

Since the NFL Draft, I’ve been stunned and baffled at the skyrocking ADP of Washington’s 2nd round pick, TE Ben Sinnott. He went from undrafted to his ADP is currently 149 in just a few weeks. I actually think he’s a good real-life pick for Washington’s rebuilding offense. But I’m trying to do better by separating real-life and fantasy implications.

Part of the monumental rise was the draft capital that Washington spent (2nd round) and the fact that Sinnott was the 2nd TE drafted. The other part of the rise was right away people compared him to last year’s Sam LaPorta. But we got value on LaPorta not just immediately after the NFL Draft, but basically into training camps through the end of July. I looked at a draft I did at the very end of July, and I got LaPorta after where Sinnott is currently going in mid-May. Also, as I’ll point out below, LaPorta walked right into the TE1 job with virtually zero competition. That is not the case for Sinnott.

I also want to make a case FOR a rookie TE who is walking into a potential Sam LaPorta role. That would be the Panthers’ rookie TE Ja’Tavion Sanders. Since Sanders was drafted in the 4th round and to the Panthers, he’s an afterthought and currently available at the end of best ball drafts with an ADP of 208.

So let’s get to it…

 

Sinnott and Sanders Similarities:

#1 – Both prospects have roughly the same measurables 

Sanders:

HEIGHT – 6’ 4’’
WEIGHT – 245 lbs
40-Yard Dash – 4.69

Sinnott:

HEIGHT – 6’ 4’’
WEIGHT – 250 lbs
40-Yard Dash – 4.68

#2- Both prospects are not in Top 10 offenses:

Despite all the pieces they added in the coaching staffs, free agency, and the NFL Draft, both the Panthers and Commanders are still not near Top 10 offense category.

 

The Case AGAINST Ben Sinnott and His Price:

#1 – The price is way too high!

I didn’t like taking Sinnott the first few days when he was still at the end of drafts for all the reasons below. But I especially do not see the case for him at this rising ADP/cost. I’ll repeat, you are not getting anywhere the Sam LaPorta value as we did last year. And for all the reasons below, I don’t think he’ll come close to paying off this ADP.

 

#2 – He’s in a low-volume passing offense with a rookie rushing QB:

I’ve learned to pay attention to passing vs. rushing volume both in total volume and in the redzone to help with best ball decisions. What I can tell from reading a lot about Washington’s plans on offense this year, is they intend to lean into the running game with Brian Robinson and Austin Ekeler.

They want to try to set up rookie QB Jayden Daniels for success, and not have him constantly dropping back behind a bad offensive line like the Washington coaching staff did to Sam Howell last year. And unfortunately, the Washington offensive line was addressed, but not nearly enough, especially at the tackle positions.

Then of course you have a rookie QB, who we should have realistic expectations for despite his elite athleticism. And he’s a rushing rookie QB at that. So even if he drops back 30+ times per game, likely 8+ of those dropbacks will be scrambles or sacks.  If you look at other offenses with young rushing QBs, very few can support multiple pass catchers.

Look at QB Justin Fields for example. In the last two years, he’s played a total of 28 games. In those 28 games, he’s averaged just 24.5 attempts per game. I can see a similar attempts projection for Daniels this season.

 

#3 – Plenty of Mouths to Feed in Washington Passing Game, Including TE Zach Ertz ahead of Sinnott:

When we are talking about likely less than 30 attempts per game, then factor in the weapons Washington has, it’s hard to see Sinnot with a big target projection. Yes, Terry McLaurin is the only real stud, but there is still Jahan Dotson, Luke McCaffery, Austin Ekeler, and oh yes, TE Zach Ertz.

While we always want to put older vets out to pasture, Ertz is familiar with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and will be the top TE target for Washington to open the season. As Steve pointed out on a recent Fanspeak show (mark 1:04:20) , Ertz kept the very talented Trey McBride off the field as a target in Arizona. 

Bottom line, Sinnott doesn’t even have the TE1 role, let alone is he likely to be a top target in this low-volume passing offense. We targeted Sam LaPorta last year because the Lions are a top offense, and he had the TE1 role and likely was the 3rd target on the team at worst.

 

 

The Case FOR Ja’Tavion Sanders and His Price:

#1 – Higher Consensus Rankings Pre-Draft by Scouts and Experts:

Not only was Sanders the TE2 in Combine rankings per NFL.com, but he was widely considered the TE2 and projected Day 2 pick by most NFL Draft experts and big boards. Conversely, rankings were a much wider range for Sinnott. Some experts had him outside the top 100 and most projected him to be a Day 3 pick.

Sanders was the first pick on Day 3 of the NFL Draft with the 101st pick (first pick in the 4th round) to the Carolina Panthers. If you look at his NFL.com profile from Lance Zierlein, he compares Sanders to David Njoku. 

He likely fell some because he’s not necessarily a complete TE or going to be used as a blocker. But he’s an excellent pass catcher, and that’s what counts in fantasy.

 

#2 – Excellent Pass Catcher and Red Zone Weapon:

As mentioned in the NFL.com write-up on Sanders, he excels as a pass catcher and can line up in-line or from the slot. He should be a very productive pass catcher in the NFL. And on the Panthers, whose pass catchers lack much size, he can be a much-needed redzone weapon.

 

#3 – Role in Offense – Stepping into TE1 Role Similar to LaPorta:

While he may not be going to a top offense like Sam LaPorta, Sanders has the opportunity to step right into the TE1 role for the Panthers. Just like LaPorta only had Brock Wright and James Mitchell ahead of him, Sanders only has Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas ahead of him on the depth chart. That shouldn’t be too daunting to beat out for Sanders to become the Panthers TE1, especially as the main pass catching TE.

If you want some narrative, it doesn’t hurt that he wants to be the next Greg Olsen and the face of the Panthers’ offense. He likely has a little chip on his shoulder after being a day 3 pick, which doesn’t hurt either.

 

Bottom line, Sanders has less competition for targets than Sinnott and likely should earn the TE1 role from the jump. Don’t wait until preseason, grab Ja’Tavion Sanders shares now before the price goes up.

 

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