In my weekly column, we take a long look at impact fantasy football rookies. I compare their performance to date against my original expectations of them. Let’s continue this 2014 version of the series by looking at one of the highest rated rookie tight ends. I will look at some of his college production against his performance versus the Patriots to dissect his dynasty value.
This is what I saw on his college tape: Amaro gets off on the line of scrimmage by uncoiling a nice punch creating space and follows up with quickness getting around the defender. The tight end lines up mostly uncovered as a slot receiver. The former Red Raider blocks better on pass plays; however he struggles sealing the edge by not giving the same effort on running plays. When it comes to receiving, Amaro excels at route running, good footwork, playing more like an oversized wide receiver. He runs mostly crossing routes and inside slants, so the tight end spends a lot of time jockeying for position and is one of the best hand fighters in his class. The tight end sees most of his coverage from safeties, and linebackers with an occasional corner back throw in. Getting separation is not really in his wheelhouse, so he fights most of the time to come down with contested passes. Amaro can bounce off would-be tacklers with his good center of gravity while keeping his legs churning like a running back. When the tight end is near the end zone, Amaro will do whatever it takes to score.
Amaro tracks the ball well in the air and will sky above his coverage to come down with the ball. If the ball is thrown in his vicinity, the tight end creates a way to at least get a hand on the ball. He does a good job catching the ball with the palms of his hand and shows fluidity for a man his size. The tight end can set up deep routes with double or triple moves, creating separation between him and his coverage. Amaro uses his strong upper body to swat defenders away from him and fights for every first down he can. When Amaro plays near the line of scrimmage, he can lull defenses to sleep. It is because he plays lazily at times on running plays which allows him to drift down the field and find soft spots in zone coverage. The tight end is quite dangerous on bubble screens and wheel routes. Amaro has a knack for reading his blockers and uses the sidelines to gain extra yardage. Amaro has played in a very target heavy environment, so the jury is out if he has adjust to being a more complementary weapon.
He had a couple minor character concerns during his college career: an issue of fraud and his bowl game ejection. I really don’t think there is much to his credit card fraud charges that occurred early in his college career (they were later dropped), but Amaro lost his temper, punched a Minnesota safety, and got thrown out of the game. This came as a huge surprise and the tight end later apologized for his actions.
During his game against the Patriots, I saw: The rookie played a very versatile role spending time in the slot, lined up outside, sent in motion, and at fullback. He is still learning how to run block and continued to show those growing pains against New England. Amaro gives a quick seal on sweeps, but does not hold the block for very long. The player actually spent more time split out wide than anywhere else.
When running routes, the young tight end does a good job of shielding the ball from his defender and has the athleticism to make a few one-handed catches. Amaro, who is usually quite adept at using the sidelines, got forced out while trying to make a critical catch on a second and long play. He can catch the ball in stride and pluck the ball out of the air when his concentration is there. The young tight end had a key drop where he tried to run with the ball before catching it in the middle of the field untouched, but his quarterback went right back to him the next play. Amaro was Smith’s target for the Jet’s two-point conversion attempt to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but the pass sailed too high. There is a lot of room for growth in the New York passing offense even with the addition of Percy Harvin. Amaro’s role should continue to grow as the season rolls along. I would not count on him higher than a TE2 this season with the upside to develop into a lower end TE1 similar to Jared Cooks of the Rams in 2015 and beyond.