Many casual gamers may not even recognize Trey Burton as an “old” face. The 26-year-old comes over as a do-all hybrid in Philadelphia to battle for the starting tight end job with the Chicago Bears.
The offensive system being installed is friendly to the position, and Burton’s competition isn’t exceptionally talented. Dion Sims is a career reserve, as well, but his upside isn’t as great. The Bears drafted tight end Adam Shaheen in the second round last year. He caught three touchdowns on just 12 receptions, yet the Ashland product is a small-school work-in-progress. And at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, his frame is much better suited for blocking than the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Burton. In fairness, Shaheen is quite athletic for a big man. The 268-pound Sims is a stronger inline blocker.
New head coach Matt Nagy will bring a version of the West Coast offense from Kansas City to Chicago. Tight ends are a staple of this system, and the best tend to generate yardage after the reception. Short-area passing drive the system’s designs, and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will be tasked with thriving in this area of his game.
Burton played more of an H-back role in Philly, serving as a swing option out of the backfield, acting as a quasi-fullback and a flexed tight end. He caught 60 passes over his last 30 regular-season contests, going for only 9.6 yards per grab. To his defense, the average length of target in 2017 was only 7.1 yards.The fifth-year Florida man scored five times on 23 balls a year ago and once in 2016. He hauled in three of his five scores inside the red zone.
The biggest question surrounding Burton is the jump he will have to make in terms of more playing time. The Bears have a strong offensive line to protect Trubisky, and the running game should be a stabilizing force once again. Chicago upgraded the receiving corps, which will take away some pressure from Burton and make the offense as a whole more dynamic.
Fantasy football outlook
Burton isn’t Travis Kelce, so don’t think we’re looking at a jump from relative obscurity to top-three TE numbers. However, he could creep into the top seven or so in what is a rather unappealing fantasy class of tight ends this year.
Once we get outside of the top few guys — Gronk, Kelce, Greg Olsen, Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, Evan Engram — it becomes rather wide open as to which tight end will step into the top of the third tier or even low second tier.
ADP-wise, Burton is going as a late seventh-rounder in standard and an early eighth in PPR. That’s an acceptable stage of the draft to find out if he can excel as a midround sleeper. The other options typically drafted around him include Kyle Rudolph, Delanie Walker, Jordan Reid and Tyler Eifert — all have risks or aren’t as exciting, anyway.