By: Jason Sarney
If you ask most individuals what their favorite past-times are, chances are sports and music are in the top few. For me, football and some all-time favorite songs in the background make it a harmonious combo.
I never learned to play the piano, although I wish I did because if I had two wishes of being able to magically perform a skill in football and a skill in music, it would be to fire a football like Dan Marino did and hit the ivory’s like Billy Joel.
Now the fun part.
Looking at Football, in which I found out early in life I’d never throw a football like Marino, and never having the musical discipline to be a "Piano Man," I need to improvise in my written jam sessions.
Any novice piano player knows that the musical instrument is made up of 88 Keys. For those keys to produce sounds pleasing to the ear, the person operating them must have skills a lot closer to Mr. Joel than of myself.
For a symphony to work, the 88 Keys of the piano could be a vital piece to the puzzle, much like 3rd year tight end, #88 Mike Gesicki will be for the Miami Dolphins in 2020 and beyond.
After a limited and misused rookie season under the lack of direction by then coach Adam Gase, Gesicki was not utilized properly, and his statistics in 2018 really should be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, he 86’ed his rookie year number of #86 and now sports #88.
He is a Key to this offense and when realizing his skill-sets you will see why.
Gase didn’t line Gesicki up in his proper setting, which is not in-line like standard tight ends. The Penn State product actually was wasted his rookie year. If you look at his 2018 splits where he lined up, you can see that something wasn't fitting in his usage compared to this past season, which we will get to.
As you can see, Gesicki spent more than half of his snaps lined up in-line as a standard tight end, which he is not. He is a wide receiver labeled as a "TE." In 2019, under a new coaching style and offensive system with Chad O'Shea, Gesicki played less than 23% of his snaps "in-line."
In searching the Twitter-verse for Gesicki-ites, I was quickly given this nugget from Fantasy Guru: @CoopAFiasco
As you can see in 2019, Gesicki essentially moved out of the in-line area of the position and played 71.8% of his snaps in the slot. With the recent opting out of wide-outs Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson, Miami's other slot weapons on the roster from last season, don't expect a regression here.
Gesicki also had several occurrences playing on the outside, utilizing mismatches against shorter corners, specifically on a few endzone catches, as well as along the sidelines when a slower linebacker was covering him.
The knock on Gesicki are a few stats that could have a number of variables attached to them. If you aren't taking inconsistent QB play and a dead-last offensive line for pass-protection, you aren't looking at the full picture.
There is a knock on lack of broken tackles, yet that can be countered with the fact he was the 3rd NFL TE in targeted air yards in 2019 with 10.4. All five of Gesicki's scores were in the end-zone, or a foot or two out, so a broken tackle is irrelevant in those cases. Many receptions came after "bang-bang" catch and hit situations, leaving even the most difficult guy to bring down, stopped in his tracks.
There have also been those to point out the first 8 games of the season, when then rookie WR Preston Williams was receiving the lion-share of the targets as well as DeVante Parker. It was only until after Williams' knee injury did both Gesicki and Parker step up and have very productive second halves of the season.
We should also realize the first half of the season for Miami was a relative disaster and nothing should really be analyzed in full from those first 8 games.
Now we are in 2020 and Preston Williams is healthy, but then again, a pair of slot receivers are gone. That's a net positive for Gesicki.
The point is, when mixing in all the variables heading into 2020, which is a new offensive coordinator yet again for Miami, Gesicki has a man in Chan Gailey who loves utilizing athletic pass-catchers in the slot area of the field.
Whether it be a tight end, like Gailey peppered with targets in Kansas City in 2008 in Tony Gonzalez, or a slot-style wide-out in Eric Decker who was fantastic as a Jet in this system. Gesicki will fall into those roles for Gailey and the Dolphins, so when looking at your fantasy TE slot, you have to consider a player who will be targeted like a receiver.
When setting your pre-draft play-list, make sure you have Gesicki in your Top-10 tight end rankings, because after a season of likely 100+ targets (89 in 2019) coming up, he could finish the year as a Top-5 TE and future record maker.
He is a potential touchdown machine in the making in the red-zone, as last year in training camp the corner fade was practiced over and over again. With weapons like Parker and Williams on the outside and hard-noised runner, Jordan Howard demanding attention, inside the opponents 20-yard line could be where Gesicki makes fantasy owners winners.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman