Video sam laporta fantasy outlook 2023

Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta is the latest highly touted Iowa tight end to enter the NFL. Given their track record of success and the Lions’ lack of an incumbent at the position, what is LaPorta’s 2023 fantasy football projection?

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Sam LaPorta’s 2023 Fantasy Projection

The Lions made it pretty clear where their priorities lie this season with their actions in the NFL Draft. Detroit spent their first pick on a pass-catching running back in Jahmyr Gibbs and then spent a very early second-rounder on LaPorta.

This is an offense that is severely lacking pass catchers behind elite WR1 Amon-Ra St. Brown. Jameson Williams was supposed to be the WR2, but he massively flopped in his rookie season and will miss the first six games of the 2023 season due to a gambling suspension.

Due to necessity, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond are rotational WR4s elevated into the WR2 and WR3 roles.

After the Lions traded away T.J. Hockenson in the middle of last season, they simply didn’t replace him and instead used a trio of rotational backups at the position.

LaPorta is the rare rookie TE who walks onto a roster as the presumptive starter. He hails from Iowa, famous for giving us George Kittle, Noah Fant, and the aforementioned Hockenson.

LaPorta comes with high expectations but has the production and athleticism to meet them. He has 4.59 speed, which is in the 85th percentile for a 6’3″, 245-pound tight end. He has 90th-percentile agility and 75th-percentile burst. LaPorta also caught over 50 passes each of his final two seasons at college.

Simply put, he’s a phenomenal athlete. Between the production, athleticism, and team situation, the stage is set for LaPorta to matter in fantasy as a rookie.

Should You Draft Sam LaPorta This Year?

With all that said, LaPorta is still a rookie tight end. Expecting him to be a fantasy TE1 right out of the gate is banking on the ultimate outlier. We’ve only really seen two tight ends in the modern era do that: 2002 Jeremy Shockey and 2017 Evan Engram.

There have been other rookie tight ends to produce well, but they typically struggle early in the season before coming on strong later as they acclimate to the NFL. That should be the expectation for LaPorta, even if he does start from Day 1.

Fantasy managers do seem to be doing us a favor in making LaPorta quite affordable. With a T18 ADP, No. 171 overall, LaPorta can pretty much be taken with your last-round selection.

I have LaPorta ranked at TE20. While that’s typically low enough to where he wouldn’t need to be drafted, at least in somewhat deeper leagues, LaPorta is probably worth a shot, given his upside.

Gambling on outliers is usually a bad idea, but everything comes down to cost. Gambling on outliers with your very last pick is a no-risk proposition. If you punt tight end or just want to take a shot on an upside rookie, LaPorta is worthy of occupying that final spot on your roster to start the season.

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Kay Adams