While it was an injury that likely could have been avoided by the Houston Texans not using a 165-pound wide receiver in the goal-line trenches, we are forced to face reality: A wide receiver in a fantastic offense who was posting one of the best rookie seasons we’ve ever seen is unfortunately out for the remainder of the 2023 season.
To get a better idea of how we should be approaching Dell in dynasty, we must dive a little deeper.
Tank Dell's Dynasty Profile
Dell's NFL Prospect Profile
Dell came into the league as a lower-probability prospect. Even without accounting for any of his collegiate production profile, getting drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft has a low hit rate for wide receivers. Since 2006, there have been 80 wide receivers in the third round; just 18.8 percent have posted at least a 14-point-per-game season and just 10 percent have posted at least a 16-point-per-game season.
When you factor in that Dell didn’t start producing like a strong NFL prospect until his 2021 season (with the Houston Cougars), his prospect profile becomes one that doesn’t have a high probability of success. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just unlikely.
It didn’t take long for Dell to show that he’s far better than his prospect profile indicated — and that he's actually one of the best rookie wide receivers of recent memory. Coming into Sunday, he was posting 16.3 points per game through 10 games, which would be the fifth-highest-scoring rookie season ever. That has only been topped by Odell Beckham Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, Michael Thomas and Justin Jefferson.
Dell's Fantasy Comparisons
Understanding the peripherals behind Dell’s historic rookie success helps create a better picture of who he could be moving forward in fantasy football. We do this by finding the most similar rookie wide receiver seasons based on their peripherals and prospect profiles.
In Dell’s case, he’s posted a 21 percent target share and 1.98 yards per team pass attempt. Both stack up high among previous rookie wide receivers, but he’s been even better on a per-route basis with a 23.7 percent target rate and 2.24 yards per route run.
He holds the sixth-highest yards-per-route-run of any rookie wide receiver with at least a 20 percent target share — the only five to top Dell's 2.24 yards-per-route-run have been Chase, Beckham Jr., Jefferson, Chris Olave and Marques Colston. Dell posted his peripherals while having a deep average depth of target of 14.5, meaning he’s earning plenty of quality targets deeper down the field.
Combining all of this, we’re left with a ROO (range of outcomes) for Dell that features Stefon Diggs, Colston, Dwayne Bowe and Terry McLaurin. When you factor in that this level of wide receiver — Dell — is moving forward in one of the league’s best offenses, the probability of high-end fantasy success only heightens.
What Should You Do With Dell In Dynasty?
While it is devastating that Dell will miss the remainder of the season, he should be back to start the next one. According to Jeff Mueller, PT, DPT, Dell should be able to return to his prior form within six months — while not losing speed or explosiveness upon his return.
Considering the current circumstances, that's at least positive news and makes handling him as a dynasty asset much more straightforward.
One thing an injury does in most cases in dynasty fantasy football is to decrease a player’s value, which has already started for Dell according to fantasytradecalc.com, a site that uses real dynasty trades to determine individual value. (Prior to Dell's injury, he was valued at WR14.)
With that value likely to fall even further, we’re in a situation where any team that can afford to have an asset who won't contribute fantasy points for the remainder of the season most likely should.
Once point-scoring season wraps up and we’re in the offseason, Dell becomes a high-end wide receiver entering his second season in possibly the best fantasy situation (attached to C.J. Stroud) and will be scoring fantasy points as soon as everyone else.
Dell is a buy in dynasty fantasy football.