Ed Dickson stepped in at tight end for the injured Greg Olsen. For the past three seasons in Carolina, Dickson was the other tight end, mostly forgotten in the Panthers’ offense. He never had over 134 yards in a single season with Carolina, although he had 534 yards one year for the Ravens.
When Olsen went down, there was a lot of speculation over who would pick up his workload. Devin Funchess was highly touted as the big target who would most take advantage of Olsen’s injury. Well, Ed Dickson has heard enough of that talk. As the Panthers starting tight end, Dickson decided he should fill the shoes of Olsen. In Week 4, he caught three of four targets for 62 yards.
But Week 5 was special. Dickson, who is not exactly the speediest guy on the Panthers, rumbled around for 175 yards on five catches. Even without a touchdown, he is the TE-1 for the week.
Can we expect that production to continue? Is Ed Dickson a must-start?
What to expect
Dickson’s emergence from the shadows coincides with the re-ignition of quarterback Cam Newton. The past two weeks, the Panthers have scored 60 points and Newton has thrown for over 650 yards. Is it all about Newton having a tight end he can throw to? Well, it is more than that, including a well-healed shoulder that Newton has come to trust will hold up. But Dickson is a big part of that offense.
He is playing the majority of snaps and running enough patterns to make him an integral part of the passing game behind Kelvin Benjamin and Funchess. He has caught 10 of 13 passes for 271 yards since Week 2. That he had two good receiving games in a row puts him ahead of most of the upstart tight ends we’ve seen on the weekly leaderboards. Newton knows he is there and has a track record of involving his tight end in the regular game flow.
So… is Ed Dickson a must-start?
Tight ends are a fickle lot. It is a rare one who offers consistent fantasy value. Even Rob Gronkowski only plays half the year. For every Travis Kelce, there are a dozen one-game wonders. Dickson’s career reception percentage is just 57%. His 24.6 yards-per-catch is not sustainable. Benjamin and Funchess command the bulk of the targets, so his 3-5 targets may remain constant. With a YPC closer to his 12-yard career average, that offers 36-60 yards per game.
Cam Newton, however, has Dickson on his radar. If he truly treats him like Greg Olsen, he could feed him five receptions per game at 13-14 yards per catch and 7-8 touchdowns. That would make Dickson a top-five tight end this season.
Then you’re saying…
The truth is probably in the middle. With the way tight ends have played this year, four catches for 50 yards and an occasional touchdown is better than most owners are getting. But it doesn’t quite make Dickson a must-start. He is a good bet. He has a tough matchup Thursday in Philadelphia, so I would look for more promise elsewhere.
You can probably do worse, but Ed Dickson is not a must-start so far.
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