When Jason Witten announced his retirement prior to the draft this year, it signaled the end of an era in Dallas. Gone is his steady fantasy production, and instead, Dallas is left with a massive void that has yet to be shored up.
So who should we look at in the late rounds as his potential replacement?
The fact is that this team is devoid of any real obvious choices. For a time, converted basketball player Rico Gathers was garnering attention for his size and athleticism. Likewise, Geoff Swaim, the longest serving member of Dallas’ tight end group, has generated some buzz for his ability to stay on the field as an above average run blocker.
But do any of the incumbents have what it takes to be fantasy relevant?
It’s important to note that the group of players vying for “starter” minutes is about 4 deep. Early depth charts list Swaim as the first option, but from there things get interesting. CBS Sports lists 24 year old former Alabama TE Blake Jarwin ahead of rookie Dalton Schultz and the aforementioned Gathers, despite playing only 3 snaps as an undrafted free agent.
A recent article published at Dallas News made light of the fact that it’s been Jarwin, not Swaim or Gathers, that has been targeted the most in the pre-season by Prescott. Does this kind of chemistry trump the intangibles that Swaim brings to the table in the run game?
While I fully expect Swaim to be the first choice thanks to his acumen in the rushing game, I’ll be keeping an eye on Jarwin to be the kind of player who can step into that safety net roll Witten inhabited for years. Clearly, if the off season reports are to be believed, Jarwin’s rapport with Prescott has impressed already. I wouldn’t suggest drafting him, except maybe in the deepest leagues, but I do suggest monitoring this group as Dallas continues to try and replace the production it lost when Witten retired.