Seattle Seahawks tight end Noah Fant is entering the fifth year of his NFL career and the pressure is on for him to ascend into the upper echelon of receiving tight ends. It's time to either become the player he was drafted to be or prepare to make a slide down the depth chart. I am not referring to fantasy football value either (I do have him on my dynasty team but that's beside the point).
Before we get going I need to set the record straight, I am a huge Fant fan. When the Hawks traded Russell Wilson and he was a part of the return package, I was ecstatic. Being born in Iowa, and having a ton of family who reside near Iowa City, I watched a lot of Fant when he played for the Hawkeyes.
The former 2019 first round pick of the Denver Broncos (20th overall) has shown glimpses of greatness, warranting him being taken so high in the draft. In spite of being the second Iowa tight end taken that year (T.J. Hockenson was taken 8th overall by Detroit), fans had hoped Fant would be the next Shannon Sharpe in Denver. The reason Denver took Fant where they did is because he was a scoring machine. He was in college, he was in high school. What fans might not realize is his receiving numbers are pretty much par for the course for Fant, sans the elite touchdown numbers.
Noah Fant could have a breakout year for the Seahawks in 2023
Fant played for Omaha South High School (Nebraska) and graduated class of 2016. His stats his senior year were 46 receptions, 570 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Keep in mind this was over a 9 game season. Fant's freshman year at Iowa he did not play much, but in his sophomore year, he put up a 30-494-11 season, and followed that up with a 39-519-7 junior year, before entering the NFL draft. Stats aside, Fant is a freak athlete. He is big (6-4, 249 pounds), fast (4.50 40-yard dash), and can catch and block. What is not to like and why wouldn't this translate into elite numbers in the NFL?
Fant has been Fant. His single-season key statistical highs are 63 catches, 673 yards, and 4 touchdowns. All while playing for Denver. Last season, his first with the Seahawks he posted 50 receptions, 486 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Par for the course.
I for one thought that he would erupt statistically in his first year in the Emerald City. In the preseason it looked like Drew Lock was going to be the starter, and their connection from their Broncos days would favor Fant in targets. As we all know, this did not happen. Geno Smith won the job, played like a Pro Bowler, and the Hawks played Pete Carroll's brand of football. Run, run, run, and then run some more. This run-first, old-school game plan worked well for the Seattle passing game, as the team had two 1,000-yard receivers and Smith set single-season franchise records.
The Seahawks also spread the tight end love to three different guys over the course of the season. Will Dissly, Fant, and Colby Parkinson collectively put up a 109-1,157-9 stat line. Combined they were an elite tight end. To put his into perspective, Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce finished the season 110-1,338-12. Fant was the leading tight end for the Seahawks. Maybe we just have an embarrassment of riches in Seattle.
So realistically what should we expect from Noah Fant? The way Seattle runs their offense, it is clear that the tight end position has a ton of value and contributes offensively. With three capable tight ends on the roster, maybe the Seahawks are better off rotating all three and reaping the collective benefits. Is it worth giving Fant more of an opportunity to take the lead in the tight end room and elevate his game to elite status?
Honestly, I do not see Head Coach Pete Carroll caring that much. He cares about his players, but he cares about the team. So while from a fantasy football perspective, we see Fant as the equivalent of the Deftones (their songs are so close to just going off, and then they never do. See their album Adrenaline) in rock music, Fant probably will not match the type of numbers that his former Hawkeye teammate Hockenson puts up. Not playing in the Seattle timeshare at least.
The reality is Fant is doing exactly what he has done his entire football career (only now he's really splitting time). What we should expect this season is more touchdowns from him. I really hope that he can reestablish that part of his game. If he does, he moves into the elite category. He has the skillset, and is still young. The team is loaded with playmakers on offense so he should get his chances with everyone else drawing attention from opposing defenses.
Noah Fant is a stud and should sit comfortably on top of the Seattle depth chart, and guess what? It's a contract year. Expect him to go off as he looks for the next contract that will likely take him to the end of his career. It's make-or-break time. Let's go!