Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer | Red Corner vs Blue Corner

by Trevor Grosz · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

Welcome all to the heavyweight battle of the year. This matchup features two of the best tight end prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft. Introducing first, in the Red Corner – hailing from Utah, standing 6-4, and weighing in at 246-pounds: Dalton Kincaid. His opponent, in the Blue Corner – hailing from Notre Dame, standing 6-5, and weighing in at 249-pounds: Michael Mayer.

Editor’s Note – This article was written before the 2023 NFL Draft

The Tale of the Tape

In what many consider a deep tight end class, Kincaid and Mayer are the only tight ends projected to be first-round picks by Cody Carpentier on his NFL Draft Big Board. Based on their production in the 2022 collegiate season, they deserve all the hype that comes with that. Mayer led Notre Dame with 67 receptions, 809 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. His production earned him consensus All-America honors.

However, Kincaid was just as productive as Mayer. He led FBS tight ends with 890 receiving yards on 70 receptions and eight touchdowns. Kincaid finished as a semi-finalist for the John-Mackey Award which is awarded to the best tight end in the country. The result of this matchup will help you determine which of these top prospects you should add to your fantasy team for 2023.

Dalton Kincaid

The current betting favorite to be the first tight end selected in the draft, Kincaid, presents an intriguing skillset as a receiver for NFL teams. In his 2023 Rookie Guide, Cody Carpentier mentions Kincaid’s great footwork and ability to get yards after the catch. He runs smooth routes and looks like a wide receiver when doing so. Utah utilized this to their advantage by giving him heavy usage at the slot in 2022 (221 snaps).

While he presents an intriguing skillset as a receiver, he has other issues that should hurt his playing time as a rookie. One that Carpentier mentions in his film notes is his blocking. He lacks the necessary strength to provide reliable run blocking. He’ll struggle to have a three-down role because of this to start his career.

Player Overview

Kincaid had elite production throughout his collegiate career. He started his career at the University of San Diego and produced from Day 1. He totaled 68 receptions, 1,209 yards, and 19 touchdowns in his first two collegiate seasons. This early production led to an impressive 19.9 Breakout Age (81-percentile).

Kincaid transferred to Utah after 2019 and continued his massive production. He produced 106 receptions (142 targets), 1,400 yards, and 16 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Kincaid had an impressive 15.8 YPR in college (86-percentile) and an elite College Dominator Rating of 34.1-percent (94-percentile).

Should his health be a concern?

A concern entering the draft that many people had about Kincaid was the status of the back injury he suffered at the end of the 2022 season. The injury kept Kincaid out of participating in the NFL Combine this year. However, Adam Schefter reported Kincaid is available to play without any restrictions in a letter sent by his doctor to teams. While this is good news, I would still monitor his health entering the 2023 NFL season.

Michael Mayer

Entering the off-season, Mayer was considered the top prospect in a loaded tight end class. Cody Carpentier has him as his TE1 for a reason. Carpentier praises his skillset as a do-it-all tight end with his ability to block and make difficult catches.

Michael Mayer Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

His skill set allows him to be a reliable three-down tight end from Day 1. However, he is not without his faults. The biggest issue from a fantasy perspective that Carpentier mentions is the inability to produce after the catch.

Player Overview

Mayer produced the moment he stepped on campus at Notre Dame. As a true freshman, he totaled 42 receptions on 61 targets, 450 yards, and two touchdowns. Mayer broke out as a junior with a 20.2 Breakout Age (76-percentile) with 71 receptions (99 targets), 840 yards, and seven touchdowns.

Michael Mayer’s Career Stats at Notre Dame

As a senior, he led his team in nearly every receiving category with 67 receptions (105 targets), 809 yards, and nine touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career as the tight end career record holder for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions for Notre Dame. His dominant career earned him a 35.8-percent College Dominator Rating (95-percentile).

Should you worry about his athleticism?

While Mayer is a great talent, his athleticism metrics are subpar. He recorded okay (but not great) speed metrics for his size with a 4.70 40-yard dash (71-percentile) and a Speed Score of 102.9 (73-percentile). His Burst and Agility Scores were below average at 115.9 (44-percentile) and 11.7 (33-percentile), respectively.

His SPARQ-X score was around average at 107.7 (57-percentile). All of this led to a mediocre 99 Athleticism Score. Mayer’s score is last among 2023 tight ends and second last all-time out of the 458 tight ends that had their score recorded. While these measurements are concerning, Mayer should find success as a three-down tight end despite it.

The Go-Home

Both Mayer and Kincaid are excellent prospects with great resumes. However, only one can be the winner. Kincaid is an athletic playmaker capable of making big plays with his ability after the catch. However, he will have limited snaps as a rookie due to his struggles in run blocking. Mayer is arguably the most polished tight end in the class. He enters the league as a three-down tight end and should provide a safe receiving option for most QBs.

However, his ceiling is lower due to his mediocre athleticism. The winner right now is Mayer. While I can see Kincaid becoming a better fantasy option in the future, he has a lower floor due to his struggles in run blocking. Mayer’s current ADP (FFPC) is 167, just over 15 spots lower than Kincaid’s ADP at 151.7. While Mayer’s ceiling is limited, he should be a safer option in PPR leagues.

The Winner – Michael Mayer