Hunter Long 2021 Fantasy & Dynasty Outlook with Dolphins
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Long
Hunter Long Fantasy Profile
Hunter Long Fantasy Fit with Dolphins
Long will open the year behind starter Mike Gesicki — but the veteran is in the final year of his contract, so Long could be the starting tight end for the Dolphins in 2022.
A well-rounded player with functionality as a blocker and receiver, Long will see playing time right away in two-tight end sets. And at times, he might play ahead of Gesicki because of Long’s ability to contribute in all situations.
We should never expect much from rookie tight ends, so Long is likely to be a nonentity in 2021. But in 2022 he could be a popular sleeper option in redraft and best ball, and in rookie dynasty drafts, he will be someone considered by forward-thinking fantasy investors probably in Round 3.
Dynasty Fantasy Analysis
Note: The following was written before the NFL Draft.
After Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth, Long might be the best two-way tight end in the class. He’s big enough to play inline, where he lined up for the supermajority of his college snaps, and he’s strong enough to contribute as a run blocker, but he’s also much more than just a conventional No. 2 tight end.
He can catch the ball.
— Hollywood Dante (@DanteCollinelli) September 19, 2020
He’s not an exceptional route runner, but he’s good at NFL-style routes, and last year he trailed only Florida tight end Kyle Pitts among the top prospects with his strong combination of volume (5.2 reception per game, No. 2) and average depth of target (9.4 yards per target, No. 2 per 2021 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook).
Long’s path to this point has not been straightforward.
Coming out of Exeter High School, he was an undersized blocker in a run-heavy offense, so he drew zero college interest. As a result, he took a post-graduate season in 2016 at Deerfield Academy, where he significantly bulked up and worked on his pass catching.
At Deerfield, Long flashed a 30-504-2 receiving line in eight games, which was sufficient to earn him a scholarship offer from Boston College.
He did little for the first two years of his college career, redshirting in 2017 and playing as a blocking tight end in 2018 with just 4-103-2 receiving in 12 games. In 2019, though, Long broke out with a 28-509-2 receiving performance in 13 games, ranking No. 1 on the team in yards receiving and No. 2 in receptions and doing fine work as a blocker for A.J. Dillon in an incredibly run-heavy offense.
In 2020, under new head coach Jeff Hafley, the Eagles shifted to more of a balanced attack. But even with a new system, Long remained an offensive focal point with 57-685-5 receiving in 11 games, ranking No. 1 in receptions and No. 2 in yards and touchdowns receiving. Across the nation, he was No. 3 at the position with 11 contested catches (per Pro Football Focus).
With his college production and overall skill set, Long projects as a potential NFL starter who could develop into a fantasy contributor. In the best of worlds, he becomes Jason Witten. In the worst of worlds, he’s Jace Sternberger.
NFL Prospect Comp: Josh Oliver with less draft capital and athleticism but more size and blocking ability
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