For the most part, the common fantasy owner considers the drafting of a tight end as a nuisance- kind of like having to pick a catcher in fantasy baseball. And then there is the minority that need to have top shelf talent like Gronk/ Kelce or back in the day Jimmy Graham. You can win with either, in the former the philosophy is that IF you can pick one of the top guys AND they perform as expected that you’ll have an overall edge. The caveat being that you make some good picks to compensate for the early round slot you just shot in the ass.
Conversely, and more in tune with you’re about to read here, is the headier play to seek out an adequate guy sometime after most, if not all teams, have filled the spot. This year’s crop is nothing special but surely stocked with enough “starter” types even in 16 team leagues. This season there are some obvious guys that you’ve all read about and seen listed in the bottom half of the top ten of most cheat sheets that are quite viable. A few nice thumbnails can be found here James Wilk’s ADP Tight End Gems 2018.
I’m gonna the Big Dig to root out a few players that are more risky, for a variety of reasons, but will provide sturdy bench support with productive starter potential. In the rare two tight end league all could easily be owned.
TRAINING CAMP BATTLES
O.J Howard, Tampa Bay– depending on the measuring stick 26-432-6 (on 39 targets) the #1 draft pick from Alabama did either okay or damn good. Even at 6′ 6″ and 251 lbs Howard is a downfield force- his 16.6 YPC led all tight ends (minimum 25 receptions). So last year the tight end rookie hype was on Howard especially in light of the fact that Jameis Winston peppers tight ends especially in the Red Zone. The rub was, and still remains, the fact that the Harvard guy and fellow giant (6’5″ and 245 lbs) Cameron Brate was still on the roster.
Cameron Brate- just turned 27 and now in his fifth year. After serving first two years mostly collecting splinters he made a splash as the tight end SURPRISE of 2016 (57-660-8 TDS). Last year was still a solid 48-591-6 although the catch rate went down from eight percentage points to 62%. Meanwhile, Howards percentage was 67%. So combined, at least last year you had some prolific TE numbers in Tampa Bay.
In a deep league either is viable as a wing-and-a-prayer starter but I’d lean toward Howard as a time share type on any fantasy roster complimenting players like Reed, Clay or even Gesicki. Sooner or later you’ll have a good, not great option in most weeks.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati- top five talent at the position if not for the ridiculously lousy ability to stay on the field. In five years he’s missed more (41) games than he’s played (39). But in the games he’s played he scores TD’s (20) but with mundane yardage (39.4 yards per game). Subtract the 2015 , 13 TDS in 13 games breakout and you have a guy commonly on the waiver wire. Don’t be the guy to think he spent two months in Lourdes. Move on young man to the safe haven (see below).
Tyler Kroft- played at Rutgers and, almost identical in size (6’6″ and 260 lbs) as the other Tyler. The big advantage here is health- in four years he’s never really been hurt. But up until last year this guy’s stats had extra offensive lineman written all over him. But then last year the breakthrough finally happened when once again the Golden Boy (Eifert played at Notre Dame) was a no show. A respectable 42 receptions by Not Laura Kroft (on 62 looks) ensued, along with the same amount of TDs (8) as the Holy Trinity of Gronk/Ertz/Kelce. Could Kroft repeat this year?
Don’t touch Eifert with the proverbial 10 foot pole but if you are actually gonna punt Tight End (i.e grab a leftover) Kroft would be a good choice. Also a good bye week fill in- as attested by the two double dong (TD) games he had for the Bengals in ’17
TWO TIGHT END SETS WORTH NOTING
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia- in my book in a three way tie with Kelce and Gronk as the best tight end on the planet, fantasy or otherwise. The ex-Stanford Cardinal has been thrown to a ton (three years straight over 100 targets) , is large ,6’5″ and 250 lbs, with hands and speed. The complete package. So why would Philly blow a 2nd round draft pick on a T.E, especially one from South Dakota State?
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia- winning a Super Bowl gives a team a chance to pick the “best available”. And this guy has great potential as a downfield Gronk-like threat if the college game tapes aren’t lying. Caught a TD in his first game as a pro (see pic above).
Although he, by no stretch, has wide receiver maneuverability or speed, this guy could benefit big time from the ongoing Alshon Jeffries situation (shoulder) and will be on the field along with Ertz. Add to that the draft day drama when the Eagles made a trade to move up in Round 2 to grab this guy who the Cowboys coveted. Dallas on Dallas- what a marketing scheme that would have been…
Ertz is phenomenal, if you draft him just make sure you take a latter round flier on Goedert. Hell, come a desperate week start ’em both if this preseason success is no fluke. If you are in a two tight end league or one with a huge bench I’d stash the Rookie in a nano-second. Ever heard of Gronk & Hernandez?
Trey Burton,Chicago- the apprenticeship is over, never again will Burton be the super fill-in guy in Philadelphia. Instead he will get an enormous chance to Rock the Casbah in Chitown. Of course, his ex-teammates Wentz /Foles are a HUGE difference compared to the young and very unproven Mitch Trubisky.
The hype is all over the Bears in 2018 but to think that the New Polish Rifle can join the land of QB relevance after a choppy rookie season. I’m very skeptical based on the twelve start audition when he chucked a whopping 7 TD’s. Wretched stats for an NFL QB.
We’re talking the biggest set of training wheels in many years when in the NFL you throw 27 passes a game in today’s fill the sky mentality. Regardless, I do like Burton as the safety valve/go to guy who could on occasion stretch the field to the tune of 55-700-7. That’s solid, that’s borderline top five material. Definite second tier material if that’s the way you like it. Just consider the handcuff if roster spots are plentiful (see below).
Adam Shaheen- like Goedert he was taken in the 2nd round and is huge (6’5″ and 270 lbs). In a cameo for the Bears he caught 12 balls for 127 yards and 3 TDS. Two of those TDs were thrown by Trubisky. Unlike Goedert this fellow did not go to a Division 1 school. Ever heard of Ashland? Neither have I. But 17 TD’s is impressive even against the Tiffin’s and Ohio Dominican’s of this world (at least the Bears thought so!).
Burton won’t be cheap but is a solid selection even if Da Bears don’t live up to the positive buzz they’re receiving. Shaheen is a raw, deep sleeper type that needs to be on your tight end watch list, if you even have one…
In summation, don’t overlook the tight end position regardless of your philosophy. Even if you are thinking “leftover” there will be value in the end game and certainly on the wire. In this short article you saw a thumbnail strata ranging from the obvious top shelf (Ertz and Burton) to the mid-range (Howard and Brate) to the somewhat obscure (Goedert and Shaheen). Be fluid when drafting T.E’s – have your tiers and attempt to stick to your strategy.
So Long For Now
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel and Kyle Amore live on Sunday August 19th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #133 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts live August 16th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #89 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will take a close look at some possible ADP steals in our drafts this season.
My guest this week is Andy Macuga. He is the former Head Football and Baseball Coach for Borrego Springs H.S. out in the San Diego area. Andy is also a 6 year veteran of Major League Fantasy Sports leagues and a frequent radio guest.