By: Brendan Semon
There are fewer disappointments from the 2021 NFL season than Las Vegas Raiders tight end, Darren Waller. Being sidelined by injuries, as well as the lacking of a role in the team's plan of attack, Waller dropped from the No. 2 TE in the preseason, to No. 15, a punch to the kidneys to anyone who drafted the 2020 Pro Bowler as high as the first round in their PPR league. We're not crying, you are. With this incredible fall from power, where can we rank vertical threat, Darren Waller, ahead of this season?
When you set career highs in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, expectations are set on another big performance the following season, however, Darren Waller wasn't able to come close to his 2020 numbers last year. In 2020, Waller put up an astounding 278.6 fantasy points after a dominant 16-game campaign in which he saw 145 targets, 107 receptions, 1196 yards, and 9 touchdowns. In other words, Darren Waller gave you an average of 17.4 points per week. This stat dwindled to just 12.9 in 2021.
As mentioned before, injuries have plagued the 6'6" 256 lbs tight end, leading him to miss the stretch after Week 12. In 10 games played in 2021, Waller has faced 84 targets, catching 53 passes for 643 yards and two lone touchdowns. This is far less than ideal for someone whose average draft position was No. 21 overall.
The Las Vegas Raiders failed to solidify a role for their premier pass catcher, and despite a monster year prior to this season, Waller recorded double-digit targets just twice (Week 1, Week 9). Unless the Raiders can secure a head coach who prioritizes getting their best player involved, Waller's production will continue to hover in the average range.
If you're looking at the draft board and you see Darren Waller is the auto-pick selection at No. 15 overall, skip him and wait until no earlier than the third round in your fantasy draft. There has been little indication that he can return to the guy he was in 2020 due to an ineffective attack plan by Las Vegas. Perhaps he can crack TE15, but don't waste draft capital hoping he'll be TE5 in 2022.