Pat Freiermuth 2021 Fantasy & Dynasty Outlook with Steelers
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Pat Freiermuth.
Pat Freiermuth Fantasy Profile
Pat Freiermuth Fantasy Fit with Steelers
I like the fit for Freiermuth.
We should never expect much from rookie tight ends, but Freiermuth has a well-rounded skill set that gives him the opportunity for significant playing time right away. He should be an immediate contributor in two-tight end sets, and at times, he might even play ahead of the incumbent Eric Ebron thanks to his ability to contribute as a run blocker as well as receiver.
And Ebron is entering the final year of his contract, so Freiermuth has a potential path to the starting role in 2022.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger nearing the end of his career, the future of the Steelers offense is unclear. But even if Roethlisberger retires after the 2021 season and the offense experiences significant tumult, Freiermuth could emerge as a fantasy contributor thanks to his talent and playing time.
I doubt I’ll invest in him at all this year in redraft and best ball, but in dynasty leagues he’ll be someone I hope to be able to grab in Round 3 of rookie drafts. Starting in 2022, he could pay dividends to forward-thinking investors.
Dynasty Fantasy Analysis
Note: The following was written before the NFL Draft.
Freiermuth is your favorite football player’s favorite football player. He’s an old-school tight end who seems to relish the opportunity to drive defenders to the ground as a blocker, and as a receiver he has enough route-running moxie and yards-after-catch grittiness to overcome his #DadRunner speed.
If George Kittle suddenly aged 10 years but still tried to play like a young guy — that would be Freiermuth. And I say that with all respect.
"I'm not going to try to hurdle a guy", "I'm gonna try to run someone over"
Pat Freiermuth is going to be electric in the NFL pic.twitter.com/bX4DjL11ME
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 8, 2021
Freiermuth was an older four-star recruit when he enrolled at Penn State, but he broke out right away as a true freshman, ranking No. 2 on the team with 26 receptions and 368 yards receiving and No. 1 with eight touchdowns receiving in 13 games.
As a sophomore, he was again the No. 2 pass catcher on the team, easily outperforming every Nittany Lion except wide receiver K.J. Hamler with 43-507-7 receiving in 13 games.
And then as a junior — with Hamler in the NFL — Freiermuth dominated aerial usage in the Penn State offense with 23-310-1 receiving in four games. Granted, his season was cut short by a shoulder injury, but in the four games he played Freiermuth had a 27.8% target share (per Pro Football Focus).
On top of that, as a junior Freiermuth displayed the ability to be more than just a traditional inline tight end, lining up in the slot or out wide on the majority of his snaps for the first time in his career (per SIS, 2021 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook).
Split Out Rate
- 2018: 34%
- 2019: 34%
- 2020: 54%
It’s wrong to compare Freiermuth to Pitts, who is unlike any tight end prospect we’ve seen over the past two decades, but in their two final seasons, Freiermuth was comparable as a receiver to Cole Kmet, the No. 1 tight end in last year’s class (per SIS).
Yards per Route
- Pat Freiermuth (2019-20): 1.7 & 1.4
- Cole Kmet (2018-19): 1.6 & 1.8
Yards per Target
- Pat Freiermuth (2019-20): 8.3 & 8.2
- Cole Kmet (2018-19): 8.5 & 8.4
As a prospect, Kmet has the receiving edge over Freiermuth — but just barely.
Still recovering from his season-ending shoulder surgery, Freiermuth did not participate in the Penn State pro day (except for the weigh-in), but he is expected to be ready for the 2021 season, and his general lack of athleticism is already assumed, so I doubt the absence of a pre-draft workout will hurt him.
While he’s not the dynamic move tight end the NFL has grown accustomed to over the past decade, Freiermuth still has the look of a future contributor thanks to his two-way ability to run block and catch passes inline and out of the slot.
With his all-around skill set, Freiermuth is likely the most well-rounded tight end in the class.
That won’t necessarily translate to NFL success, especially as a receiver, but he’s a strong bet to be a top-three tight end in the class and multi-year veteran in the league.
NFL Prospect Comp: Hunter Henry with more blocking ability but less draft capital and probably less athleticism
Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.