Sam LaPorta has come into the NFL and broken rookie tight end records for the first three weeks of the season. So far, through three weeks he is the TE2 in fantasy football behind only T.J. Hockenson, whom he replaced this year in Detroit. So, just who is Sam LaPorta and how did he get here? And, most importantly for fantasy football managers, can he keep it up?
Sam LaPorta Fantasy Football Profile
It should come as no surprise that LaPorta went to “Tight End U,” also known as Iowa University. The University of Iowa is known for producing great NFL tight ends in recent years. The most recent tight ends to come out of Iowa are George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, and Noah Fant. LaPorta put up excellent numbers in his junior and senior seasons at Iowa, tallying over 1,200 receiving yards and having a 28% target share. He was the Hawkeyes’ featured and go-to receiver while at Iowa. He also tested very well at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6’3” and 245-pound tight end placed in the 88th percentile or better in the three-cone drill, broad jump, and 40-yard dash. He impressed some scouts with his great hands and ball skills as well. He impressed the Detroit Lions so much that they made him the No. 34 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
From day one in the NFL, LaPorta looked like he belonged. He was always with the starters in training camp practice. He turned heads immediately with his route-running expertise and his ability to make people miss in the open field. He impressed Head Coach Dan Campbell and Offensive Coordinator Ben Johnson so much that he was named the starting tight end as a rookie for Week 1 this year. That is a lot of pressure for a young rookie, especially at the notoriously difficult-to-learn tight end position, but he seized the opportunity and has not looked back so far this season.
In Week 1, playing the defending Super Bowl Champions under the lights of prime time had to be a little nerve-racking for a young rookie, but it did not phase him. LaPorta made big play after big play, finishing the game with five receptions on five targets for 39 yards and, most importantly, a Lions win against the champs.
Then in Week 2, Lions quarterback Jared Goff figured out that he has a reliable big-play target in LaPorta. In this game versus the Seattle Seahawks, LaPorta had five receptions on six targets for 63 yards. Unfortunately, the Lions lost in a shootout, but Goff was gaining more and more confidence in the young tight end.
Last week, LaPorta was fantastic against the Atlanta Falcons. He had eight receptions on 11 targets for 84 yards and his first NFL touchdown. The touchdown came on a play-action pass where LaPorta ran a great route and Goff dropped it in beautifully. The Lions got the victory, and LaPorta’s stock went way up after his big game.
Sam LaPorta Rest of Season Fantasy Football Outlook, Projection
Many experts thought that LaPorta would get off to a slow start, as most rookie tight ends do, but LaPorta just has that ability to run great routes and knows how to get open. After the first three weeks of the season, he already has 18 receptions on 22 targets for 186 yards and one touchdown. That puts him at TE2 in PPR fantasy leagues currently, and I believe he has a large enough role in the offense and the skills to finish the season as a top-five fantasy tight end in PPR scoring this season.
I have received so many questions about whether you should trade or sit LaPorta this week and moving forward. My answer is unless you have Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, or George Kittle, then I am starting Sam LaPorta every week until he proves me wrong that he is not the elite fantasy tight end that I believe he is going to be this season.