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.
Last week was a solid one for the TE article in cash games, but not as much in GPPs. Sure, top overall play Travis Kelce had 100 yards and a TD so that was nice, but a lot of the options here failed to reach the end zone and not reaching the end zone put them behind a couple guys who did it multiple times. Vance McDonald and Will Dissly both reached the end zone twice and that is very rare to see from the TE position. We talk about how the difference between being a top-10 TE or not comes down to catching a TD pass. Well, when you have a guy catch 2, it’s almost a lock he ends up top-5 at the position since very few guys even see enough volume to score double digit fantasy points without one. TDs are always going to be the great equalizer at the tight end position and they are incredibly tough to predict for any position in the NFL.
What we can predict is usage and volume. Evan Engram didn’t find the end zone last week, but still outscored a guy like Tyler Eifert, who did. That’s why volume is important. The floor for a guy with consistent volume is equal to the ceiling of a guy who is touchdown dependent. When the solid volume guy also finds the end zone, like Travis Kelce did, those are the games you end up with high 20+ fantasy point ceilings. Remember, you got 2 TDs from Will Dissly and Vance McDonald and both finished with 22 DK points. Those are the ceiling type games from that type of player. Kelce had 26 DK points with more targets, more catches, more yards, and only one TD. This is why we concentrate on opportunity here, because the floor of a guy with opportunity is still higher than the ceiling of a lot guys without it. When a guy who sees volume also gets the positive boost from a TD, his ceiling is often much, much higher than the other tier of guys.
The takeaway here is clear.
Touchdowns are important, yet incredibly tough to predict. Volume is predictable and can lead to higher floors and higher ceilings, which is why we try to concentrate on that and let the TDs fall where they may. Predictive analytics is not foolproof, but the idea is to put yourself in the best spots as often as you can, because those are the ones that will work out most often.
Zach Ertz – No disrespect to Ertz, but he wasn’t featured in the write up in either of the first two weeks as a high end play. Smart people realize that sometimes you need to readjust your thinking when the facts change, and the facts have changed drastically in Philly. The thesis from season long fantasy players was that Ertz had a ceiling type season last year, which he did. They worried about Dallas Goedert taking a bigger role (which he had). They worried about more mouths to feed with the addition of DeSean Jackson (which was true). They also worried about game script with the Eagles projected to be one of the top teams in the NFC. All of those concerns were valid at the time, but new information has forced us to readjust. Goedert is likely out, so that no longer means he is a threat to steal snaps and targets from Ertz. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey are both likely out, which means the “too many mouths to feed” argument is also no longer valid. We saw the beginnings of this last week as Ertz shot up to 14 targets with all of his teammates going down in the first half. I think many of the pundits, myself included, had the situation pegged right, but the facts have changed.
The Eagles were playing more 12 formations, meaning 2 TEs, 1 RB, 2 WRs. The other TE and the 2 WRs are no longer on the field. That really leaves Ertz as the sole 1st team pass catcher here. Many people are pointing to the Lions strength at stopping TEs this year, but those people are morons. In Week 1, they played the Cardinals and the Cards go 10 person, or 4-wide more than any other team in football. The TE is not on the field and the position of TE is really played by Larry Fitzgerald who had a good game against them. In Week 2 they played the Chargers. The Chargers lost Hunter Henry right before that game, so they too did not really have a TE to utilize. They of course did give up a big game to another slot WR in Keenan Allen, so the defense over the middle was just as suspect in game two. Ertz is the only real TE they have faced all season and I doubt they keep their title of giving up the 2nd fewest fantasy points to the position once this game is calculated in. Ertz has a chance for an obnoxious amount of targets and projects for 2+ targets more than any other player at the position this week. Opportunity is definitely high from him and I have no problem paying for the safety of those high projected target numbers in cash.
Travis Kelce – Ertz is more of the cash option for me this week, but I’m not fading Kelce. In fact, if Ertz is going to take a lot of ownership, that only means we are going to get Kelce cheaper. Remember, Kelce is a beast and outscored guys who found the end zone twice last week because he racks up catches and yards at the rate few other tight ends can even dream of. He has a tough matchup this week too, which should only help push people off of him more. This KC offense is humming along right now and it appears Mahomes can dial it up whenever they need him to. Kelce was second in catches, yards, and TDs to three different players last year, but he was the one constantly productive TE option across the board. His upside and floor are as high or higher than any other player’s on a weekly basis and if the ownership is depressed this week, that’s when rolling him out in a GPP could have an even greater impact on helping you win.
Mark Andrews – We have to welcome MANDREWS to the top tier this week as he is now the third most expensive TE on FD and fifth on DK. He is a $2500 discount off of Kelce this week on DK and that is sizeable, but he’s much closer on FD. Andrews has now caught at least 8 balls with a TD and 100+ yards in each of the first two games. KC is a team that forces others to go pass heavy against them, so we could see increased targets for all the pass catchers here. In Week 1, they allowed a combined 8 catches for 50 yards on 9 targets to the Jags TE duo. In Week 2, Darren Waller had 6 catches against them for 63 yards on 7 targets. Going to the TE against KC has produced a ton of catches already. This game projects to be high scoring and feature a lot of passing from the Ravens side. With Andrews as one of the top targets in the passing game, he profiles really well again this week. The DK price is tougher to ignore at just $4600, but I like him in GPPs on FD too since some will balk at paying the price when Ertz and Kelce are right in the same range over there. FD ownership will be much lower, hence making him a really solid GPP upside play over there. He may end up as chalk or close to it on DK at the cheaper price.
Greg Olsen – I flip-flopped on him all week long, but after digging a little deeper, Olsen has become my favorite mid to low tier play on both sites. He has looked good, which I did not expect coming into the year. That gives me faith that he can still get things done. The real reason I love him though is the matchup. TEs have absolutely shredded this defense the first two weeks of the season. We like playing guys against Arizona because the pace of play is higher, meaning more plays get run and opportunities expand. Week 1, this defense gave up the coming out party to T.J. Hockenson with 6 catches on 9 targets for 131 and a TD. In Week 2, MANDREWS continued his assault on the NFL with another 8 catch, 100 yard, and a TD performance. Average TE production against the Cardinals is 7 catches, 120 yards and a TD. This should be one of the better matchups to target all season long and this week Olsen draws it. At $3600 on DK, he is way too cheap. The $6100 price tag on FanDuel is not insignificant, but it’s also not expensive.
Jared Cook – Cook is going to take no ownership this week. Drew Brees is out, Cook has yet to put up big numbers, and he’s not really cheap. With that said, we know Cook has talent and this is one of those spots where he could jump out for a monster game at low ownership and remind people of that. Seattle’s defense is good, but TEs have been the way to unlock them this year. In Week 1, they faced the Bengals and both Tyler Eifert and CJ Uzomah saw five targets each. They combined to catch 9 of those 10 passes for 93 yards. In Week 2, they faced the Steelers and another backup QB. Yet, they were torched by a TE again. Vance McDonald had 7 targets and caught all of them. He did not have a ton of yards with just 38, but he found the end zone twice. The Seahawks are favored in this game, which does mean the Saints skew pass heavy. Even though he only caught two passes, he did see 7 targets. Cook seems to have his volume moving up at a time when the matchup is juicy and the ownership will be down. At $3800 on DK he could pay it off on volume alone if he sees the kind of targets that TEs have seen in the first two matchups for the Seahawks. If he finds the end zone or racks up some yards, a 4-5X return is not that hard for him to attain. On FanDuel we have a glut of TE options in the $6K range (+/-$200) and Cook is my second favorite behind Olsen and ahead of guys like Waller, Hooper, Howard, Vance, and Ebron.
Noah Fant – At under $5K on FD and under $3K on DK, this is a guy I have some interest in. Courtland Sutton may not be available, and Denver projects to be pass heavy. That means we should have more targets to distribute around. Fant has already seen 4 targets in each of the first two games, so he has carved out a role in this offense. This is a guy who is TD dependant for upside, but grabbing one would be more than enough along with a handful of catches. The upside is definitely lacking as his ceiling is very low, but at the price he could be a nice PP$ play.
Tyler Eifert – Even though Uzomah plays a lot of snaps, he does it as a blocker most often. Uzomah is also not 100% and could see a decreased role this week. Cincy is an underdog to the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo has not been lit up by tight ends, but they did give up 3 catches to Ryan Griffin of the Jets in Week 1. In Week 2, they faced Evan Engram and held him out of the end zone, but he did catch 6 of 8 targets for 48 yards. Eifert is another guy that is TD dependent, but he’s also had a knack for finding the end zone. He is under $5K on FanDuel and only $3200 on DK. With Uzomah banged up, he could see some increased targets as well. If you are looking for a cheap option that would smash with a TD, I think Eifert projects well for his ceiling game for targets and his TD percentage. That combo at a cheap price makes him a nice punt option this week.