NFL Fantasy is a game of disappointment and surprises. Some undrafted wide receiver will be the hottest player in the league for a stretch. A rookie no one saw coming will be a top-five scoring rusher. Some quarterback who did nothing last season will light the league on fire this time.
But when is the last time we saw a tight end come from nowhere and become an NFL: Fantasy star?
Well, okay. Evan Engram’s role as the Giants’ second receiver last season was a nice surprise, even to those who thought he might be the next Jeremy Shockey. But other than that…
Will Dissly was mentioned in pregame interviews with Seattle coach Pete Carroll several times. He spoke about his great size and balance. He spoke about how his solid blocking will help Seattle’s run game and give quarterback Russell Wilson an extra half-second. He never mentioned his rookie’s receiving prowess.
At Washington, Dissly caught 25 passes in 24 games. However, 21 of those passes came in his senior year, when he gained 289 yards and scored two of his three college career touchdowns. 21 catches for a college tight end is not bad.
So, did Pete Carroll throw us another fast one? Did he use misdirection to get Chicago to ignore Dissly and set up his debut performance? Is Dissly really a weapon for Seattle?
By all accounts, Will Dissly is an excellent blocking tight end, far ahead of what most rookies are expected to manage. At 6’4” and almost 270 pounds, he doesn’t look like a guy who will sneak out for a 66-yard catch and run.
But that is just what he did Sunday. He followed that surprising jaunt up with a 25-yard touchdown catch. Then he caught another of his five targets to give him 103 yards on the day.
Dissly is going to have to rely on angles and stiff-arms to keep most defensive backs from catching him, but he showed he can sneak away from linebackers. Carroll also complimented his new playmaker as smart and coachable.
No doubt the early-game injury to Doug Baldwin left Russell Wilson a bit starved for targets. The Seahawk’s quarterback only threw to his remaining wide receivers, Brandon Marshall, Tyler Lockett, and Jaron Brown 13 times. Running backs and tight ends were targeted on 18 passes.
Distribution was fairly level, with Marshall on the receiving end 6 times, while Dissly, Rashaad Penny, and Chris Carson each saw 5 throws come their way.
Nick Vannett, the presumed receiving tight end, was targeted just twice, although the snap count was tilted slightly in his favor.
Wilson is a scrambler who extends plays regularly. Once the initial play breaks down, he will throw to the first guy he sees open. If a team disregards the blocking tight end, it's at their own risk.
Last season’s Week 2 “Must Start” article was centered on Atlanta’s Austin Hooper, who found himself completely ignored by the Ram’s defense and turned two Matt Ryan check-down passes into 128 yards and a touchdown.
Over the next three weeks, Hooper was the TE-46, 32, 17, before taking a zero in Week 5. Rob Gronkowski brought some normalcy to Week 2 by topping the TE leaders board, but Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Kroft, and Ed Dickson took the honors in Weeks 3-5.
The point is, tight end is completely unpredictable.
Vannett toiled behind Jimmy Graham and Luke Wilson the past two seasons, waiting for the chance to be the starter. He is a taller target, built like Graham, and will remain the starting tight end in Week 2.
Doug Baldwin’s spot is being filled by a pre-season eye-opener, Keenum Reynolds, providing another target for Wilson.
With Wilson’s passing style and ability to see the whole field, an open Will Dissly is as big a threat as he was in Week 1. Seattle’s offense is more tight-end friendly than Hooper’s was in Atlanta.
However, with Vannett seeing the lions’ share of snaps, the addition of Reynolds, and a full week to game-plan for the absence of Baldwin, another 100-yard game is not something to count on.
We can’t blame anyone for starting Will Dissly and hoping he maintains a hot hand in Seattle’s offense, especially with the volatile NFL Fantasy tight end situation.
But we say Will Dissly is far from a must-start in Week 2.