Noah Fant: Fantasy Scouting Report
Recently, the Iowa Hawkeyes have been turning into “Tight End U”. The Hawkeyes have recently produced tight ends Dallas Clark (2003), Scott Chandler (2007), C.J. Fiedorowicz (2014), and George Kittle (2017). Their proud lineage of tight ends continues on in 2019 with Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. In this report, I will be going over Fant.
Noah Fant: The next George Kittle?
- School: Iowa
- Height: 6’5
- Weight: 251 lbs
- D.O.B: 11/20/1997 (age 21)
- College Dominator: 27.2%
- Breakout Age (BOA): 19
Fant came into Iowa as a three-star recruit out of Omaha South Magnet High School. At the time, Fant had 13 college offers, but only visited and ultimately committed to Iowa. Fant was a multi-sport athlete in high school, playing both basketball and competing in track (sprints, high jump, and triple jump).
Fant’s college career was filled with drama. First off, on the same day Fant sustained a concussion against Minnesota, his brother tweeted displeasure about the coach’s use of Fant on the field. Secondly, Fant’s coach later came out and used the word “specialist” as a description of his game. Also, in 2017 Fant was held up in a park by a man and asked to leave.
Fant may be one of the best overall athletes in this draft class and a true mismatch on the field. Vertically, he has the ability to gain separation immediately on his first step and will eat a defender’s cushion up quickly. Throughout Fant’s routes, he does not lose speed when changing his direction. In a man to man scheme where he is lined up against a linebacker, Fant has the ability to get deep quickly. In zone concepts, Fant is able to win with his initial acceleration and can find soft spots in the coverage.
Though the reception totals are not gaudy, Fant has above average hands. He also has the ability to make routine catches and make the high-difficulty level catches look routine. So what makes Fant stand out from the crowd? Most noteworthy, his contested catch and jump ball ability. Fant displays excellent spacial awareness to use his frame and shield the incoming pass from defenders. Fant’s jump ball ability could be correlated to his vertical testing at Iowa (42.1 inches). This data point combined with Fant’s exceptional body control sheds light on his ability to sky over defenders and be a fantastic red zone target.
Similar to many athletic tight ends before him, Fant finds himself relying on the flashy plays and has not yet developed his game in the trenches. Saying Fant cannot block is inaccurate. In fact, he plays inline and at h-back frequently in the Hawkeye’s system and is functional overall in the run game. Where Fant lacks true difference-making ability, like the rest of his game, is in the point of attack. He also does not deliver a strong initial punch to his defender.
Noah Fant’s versatility may be exactly what gets him on the field immediately. He is a functional blocker and will be an immediate impact in the receiving game. Additionally, Fant played all over the formation for the Hawkeyes. For example, he would routinely play inline, at h-back, go in motion, and outside on an island. With the NFL passing more than ever, Fant has the opportunity to be the next young star tight end. No matter where he lands, Fant will likely make a substantial impact early on.
There may be prospect evaluators out there saying Fant was the second best tight end on his team. However, even if you believe those comments, I would say we cannot refute the upside Fant brings.
As a rule, I tend to “not draft the first year tight end” and “buy the talent on the way down”. Similarly, the rookie tight end position is always such a risky proposition no matter what the profile looks like. However, Fant has the physical tools and skillset combination to be ELITE at the next level and his upside is too tantalizing to ignore. Currently, Fant is projected to be a late first-round rookie pick in dynasty rookie drafts and will likely go slightly higher in tight end premium formats. Consequently, I am willing to invest in Noah Fant in most of my leagues.