Welcome to the NFL DFS TE Coach, where we identify the best tight ends for our DraftKings and FanDuel lineups!
It’s important to note this article is posted mid-week, so injuries and other news can change our reads as we get closer to Sunday.
Week 1 was good for the cheaper tight end options not named Hunter Henry. Henry took solid ownership in tournaments and even higher ownership in cash, yet failed miserably. It was one of my biggest misses last week. Luckily many of the other names on the list wound up being great for our fantasy rosters: Evan Engram, Delanie Walker, Vernon Davis, and Mark Andrews all smashed. In fact, all four of them actually outscored the high end options in raw points for cheaper price tags.
This leads me to the point I wanted to make this week about what to look for when choosing your tight end options for different tournament types and on different sites. It was a popular question I kept seeing in chat. So here’s a little guideline for you guys to follow.
On DraftKings we have full point per reception scoring (PPR). That means catches are more important. Catches are not always predictable, but you can give yourself a good cushion by concentrating on targets. Guys who see more targets are likely to end up with more catches. In cash games, a good rule of thumb on DraftKings is to start the guy with the safest high number of targets at the cheapest price. In retrospect, that should have been Evan Engram last week. No one was predicting the 14 targets he did see, but he was projected for more targets than anyone else cheaper than him and about the same number as the guys who were a few thousand more expensive. Engram was not a dirt cheap bottom of the barrel type option, but he was the best value for the targets we could expect. One week is not going to change the fact that the high end options like Kelce and Kittle are going to have their smash games too. In GPP style games though, the biggest bang for your buck comes when you catch one of these cheaper guys who smashes. Delanie Walker, Mark Andrews, and TJ Hockenson were three who found their way onto a lot of tournament winning rosters with price tags under $4000 and returns of 6-9X. It will not always be that way, but keep in mind that you will not find many guys at RB or WR who see anywhere near the same number of snaps or targets at the prices the mid to lower tier TEs are at on DK. Double TE in tournaments is a valid strategy because these guys do often go low owned and have the huge upside on a point per dollar scale.
On FanDuel, half PPR makes targets important, but not as much. The pricing is also not as soft. Top Tier TE options may not command the same salary as WR or RBs do on FD, but they aren’t far off the prices of guys at other positions with similar projections. The Lower end is not as much of a bargain on FD as it is on DK. ON DK a $3K TE won;t kill you if he gets 3-5 catches for 40-50 yards even if he does not find the end zone. On FD, 3-4 catches for 40-50 yards may only be 5-7 points and at the low $5K price tag that is going to ruin your chances in both cash and GPPs. On FAnDuel the most important thing to look for is touchdown equity. Much like Seasonal fantasy football, the rule is that a top TE is one who finds the end zone. Now guys with targets are still important here, because the opportunity is a big deal, but we care about those targets more for the fact they can help give us multiple ways to raise out floor. Catches and yards do add up, but you will not get the big point per dollar returns you want unless you also find a guy who has a good chance to get into the end zone. It’s a little too early in the season to start tracking red zone usage and making any valid inferences from it, but once we get a few games of data it is something that I look at when deciding between players on FanDuel.
I will be in chat every Friday night and this article will be out every Friday afternoon during the season. If you have questions about any of this, make sure to stop in and ask me to explain it or apply it to guys you are interested in on any given week. With that said, here are my top targets for week 2.
Travis Kelce – Kelce is again projected for the highest ownership on the slate and we have a lot of mid tier priced guys on both sites that make sense again this week at other positions. What I am saying is that if you want Kelce you can probably fit him without having to sacrifice too much elsewhere. The guy is an absolute stud, coming second last year in catches, yards, and TDs to three different players. The Chiefs offense lost a major piece last week with the Hill injury, so Kelce should be in line for even more targets now. It was not his best showing in week 1 as he caught just 3 passes, but he did rack up 88 yards on those plays and he did have 8 total targets.
George Kittle – Like Kelce, Kittle did not smash last week, but he was a safe solid play. Kittle finished the game with just 54 yards receiving, but he did have 8 catches on 10 targets. HE also had a TD called back which would have been huge for him if it did count. With the higher end tight end options, you need that TD to hit upside. Think about the math for a second so you understand why I say this. Kittle had 8 catches and 54 yards. Those are very respectable numbers few tight ends are going to reach in a given week. Still on FanDuel that was just shy of 10 fantasy points. On DK it as a little better with the full PPR and was a tad over 13. At a $7K FD price he barely went over 1X his price and on DK it was only 2X. If you add the six points for the TD called back along with a few extra points for the catch and yards, you are now looking at 18+ on DK and 16+ on FanDuel. IT still would not be enough to take down GPPs, but it definitely would have been a smash in cash games. The volume is always there for Kittle, but even with volume this illustrates how important finding the end zone is at the position.
Evan Engram – I almost did this last week, but with the price jump and his monster week 1 performance I am putting Engram up in the elite tier with the best in the game. He is already talented and everyone knows that, but the volume right now is ridiculous. We spoke about it in the preseason that without Beckham last year he averaged nearly 8 targets a game and over 75 receiving yards the last few weeks. Without Golden Tate to start this year and with Sterling Shepard now banged up too, Engram is going to have to be leaned on heavily. Eli can’t throw the ball deep, so underneath stuff is all the Giants offense has. Buffalo is not the softest defense in the league, but the strength is the outside corners, meaning the volume of passes should go to the TE and RB on this day.
Mark Andrews – Good news and bad news here for Andrews. He didn’t even play half the snaps last week, but when he was on the field he was running routes. That’s why it is good news/bad news. The Ravens do have a few tight ends, but it was clear since late last season that Andrews is the receiving threat. He had a monster game with 8 catches on 8 targets for over 100 yards and a TD last week, so the ownership is likely to rise. His FD price saw a jump and I would not go there on Sunday outside of a stack. He is still pretty cheap on DK this week at under $4K. Arizona plays at the pace we expected to see from them as they had the fastest time per play in week 1. The Ravens dismantled the souls of the Dolphins defense in week 1. I usually am cautious of a team repeating a beat down like that, but this is one of the best possible matchups to run it back again.
TJ Hockenson – I liked this kid coming into the year, but was not high enough on him to put him in my write up the first week. I will not be making that mistake again. His nickname is Baby Gronk and you can see why. He’s a big, physical, freak of nature that is going to cause all kinds of matchup problems for opposing defenses this year. FanDuel realized it and jacked his price up along with Mark Andrews. Both are now in the top 6 for price at the position. DraftKings apparently missed the memo and still have Hockenson at just $3000 dollars. The Indianapolis TE duo of Doyle and Ebron did not do much against them in week 1, but that is not going to scare me away from Hockenson at that price. He had nine targets in week 1. He caught 6 balls for 131 yards and a TD. The kid is legit and has massive upside at that price with a pretty safe floor. Even if he doesn’t match the target numbers he saw in game one, he should still get 5-7 for $3000. On FanDuel you would really need the TD to get the value. On DraftKings you don’t even need that with his volume and ability to rack up yards. That makes him a safe play in any format this weekend.
Darren Waller – KC puts up a lot of points and forces teams to go pass heavy to keep up with them. That should benefit the passing game pieces on the Oakland Raiders. Waller played 100% of the snaps for Oakland last weekend and ran routes on over 80% of drop backs . He had a solid game seeing 8 targets and making 7 grabs for 70 yards. Waller is a tough cover as his 6’6” size gives him a height advantage and his 4.45 40 time gives him a speed advantage over a lot of the linebackers and safeties trying to cover him. The Raiders project for above average pass attempts this week in a game they will likely be trailing in, which could also boost his opportunities and production. Remember he had 7-70 in a game where the Raiders were ahead from start to finish and skewed more run heavy. I would not be shocked to see 8-10 targets for him here in a game with a negative game script more likely. At $3300 on DK he is priced in a group with a few interesting options. On FanDuel the $5400 price tag also feels very cheap compared to a lot of the options we already discussed who are all $6000 or greater.
Jordan Reed/Vernon Davis – Davis had the big game in week 1 without Reed, but Reed was a guy people projected much better on a points per game basis this season. I used points per game, because everyone also projects Jordan Reed for 8-12 games at most as the guy always seems to be hurt. Either way the Cowboys were torched by the tight end position in week 1. Really they were torched by Evan Engram who saw big volume, but also produced with it. I hope Reed is out again, because it would mean all the volume goes to Davis and I will feel more comfortable playing him. Reed has practiced in limited fashion though, so if he is cleared from concussion protocol, I would lean that way. Both guys are barely over $5K on FanDuel and I do not like anyone cheaper than them if I have to save.
UPDATE: Jordan Reed is Ruled out, so Davis is in play