Spotlighting the future and often present studs - Dwayne Allen is known, but are you giving him enough respect?
No one expected the 2012 Indianapolis Colts to be a playoff team. Heading into their first season in 14 years without Peyton Manning as their leader, the Colts were tasked with surviving a season with rookies at nearly every skill position on offense. Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, VIck Ballard, Dwayne Allen, and Coby Fleener all were significant contributors in their first year and helped lead one of the biggest turnaround in NFL history as the they took the Colts from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 in 2012.
Going into the 2012 season there was a lot of hype surrounding the connection between Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener. The pair were teammates in college at Stanford and many believed that chemistry they had developed would continue in the NFL after the Colts selected both in the first two rounds of the draft. The Colts however, also selected another tight end in the 2012 draft. The colts went back to back tight ends when they selected Dwayne Allen in the third round. Allen went on to post one of the best seasons for a rookie tight end in recent memory.
Despite the alleged bond and connection between Coby Fleener and Andrew Luck, It was Allen who emerged as the more dependable option for the young quarterback. Dwayne Allen posted 45 receptions on 66 targets for 521 yards and 3 touchdowns - good for a top 20 finish in 2012 ppr leagues. In 2013 and going forward I see him as a borderline fantasy TE1 that you can score in the 12th round or later.
If you compare the two young tight ends in Indianapolis to the new England Patriots tight ends of 2010 - 2012, Dwayne Allen is closer to Rob Gronkowski than he is that other guy who no longer plays for the team. Dwayne Allen is much more physical of a player than his counterpart Coby Fleener. Because of this he will be the inline tight end and therefore will be on the field more. When Allen lines up in the slot he is a mismatch for opposing linebackers and safeties. He is quick enough to gain separation from most linebackers and has size that makes it difficult for safeties to cover him effectively.
One worry with Dwayne Allen is that he will not be a focal part of the offense because of the other weapons on the team. Veteran Reggie Wayne is still around and fellow 2nd year player T.Y. Hilton should be used more in 2013 as well. Naysayers also point out the addition of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton who was the OC for Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener during their days together at Stanford. Fleener supporters believe that this is the addition that will make Fleener the more productive tight end. Another possibility is that they each do just enough to cancel each other out and make neither of them viable fantasy starters.
In this writer’s opinion, both tight ends are worth rostering in 2013 and beyond. I do believe that Allen offers steadier production simply because he will be on the field more and is a better red zone threat. In todays NFL, especially with a quarterback as talented as Andrew Luck, multiple tight ends on the same team can be fantasy worthy. In dynasty leagues I advocate picking up one or both (with a preference for Allen if you have to choose) of these two as soon as possible. If you wait too much longer the window for getting them cheap may slam shut early this season. Currently Dwayne Allen is coming off the board in the 14th round in redraft leagues as the 22nd tight end off the board. He represents tremendous upside that late and I would take him anywhere after the 11th round. In startup dynasty leagues I would start looking for him in the 9th or tenth.