Welcome to the NFL DFS TE Coach, where we identify the best tight ends for our DraftKings and FanDuel lineups!
What’s up my peeps? We finally made it to the first week of Sunday NFL football for this season. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say, “It’s about time.” The first few weeks of the season are the best for NFL DFS, in my opinion. This is when we get to use our “known knowns,” take advantage of the “known unknowns” and discover the “unknown unknowns.” There are plenty of all three for these categories at the tight end position. It’s just a matter of putting each player into the correct category on any given week. Unfortunately, one of our “known knowns,” Travis Kelsey (KC), played last night. Have no fear! There are more than enough talent options left to choose from this week. Let’s get started.
George Kittle (SF) – FanDuel $8000 / DraftKings $7200
Kittle is an elite talent at tight end and served as the 49ers number one receiver in 2019 (85 receptions, 1,053 yards and five receiving touchdowns). San Francisco’s wide receiver corp is currently injury-riddled, so don’t expect that to change anytime soon. This weekend, Kittle gets to take advantage of last season’s tight end “flowchart” in a matchup against Arizona (gave up the most fantasy points to the position last season).
The Cardinals drafted linebacker Isaiah Simmons (AZ) with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft, so the flowchart might not be as reliable as it once was. The dude is a beast. That being said, this is his first game as a pro and Kittle has the ability to thrive even in the toughest matchups. It should come as no surprise he’s the top projected tight end on the slate. His salary is a little steep for cash games, however, he’s ripe for the picking when it comes to elite tournament targets (current ownership projections of 9.77% on DraftKings and 7.62% on FanDuel).
Zach Ertz (PHI) – FanDuel $6600 / DraftKings $5800
Most rosters will get their exposure to the Philadelphia Eagles in the form of DeSean Jackson (PHI) or Miles Sanders (PHI), making Ertz the “forgotten man” (except in Eagles stacks). The emergence of Jalen Reagor (PHI) off the injury list will only add to that. Sure, after last season’s Week 10 bye, Ertz and teammate Dallas Goedert (PHI) had almost the same number of targets (Ertz had 60 while Goedert had 55), however, he remains a high volume option and dangerous red zone threat.
Ertz faces Pro Football Focus’ 28th ranked secondary in the form of the Washington Football Team and is a fine alternative to Kittle if spending up at the position in tournaments (current ownership projections of 9.93% on DraftKings and 11.28% on FanDuel). If you’re looking to roster an even lower owned commodity, be sure to take a look at Dallas Goedert (PHI) (current ownership projections of 3.02% on DraftKings and 1.87% on FanDuel).
Mark Andrews (BAL) – FanDuel $7400 / DraftKings $6000
Andrews is my favorite tournament option at tight end this week. He’s usually priced at the same level as the other elite options, however, he never garners the same level of respect or ownership (current ownership projections of 5.06% on DraftKings and 3.44% on FanDuel). Nevertheless, he served as Lamar Jackson’s (BAL) number one receiver last year, averaging 2.9 yards per route run (as per Pro Football Focus). This was second in the league for tight ends, behind George Kittle (SF) who averaged 3.1 yards per route run. Last season, in two meetings against the Cleveland Browns (this week’s opponent), Andrews had a total of 10 receptions on 17 targets, 124 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens have the highest team total on the slate (28.3 points). Expect Andrews to contribute to that total.
Chris Herndon (NYJ) – FanDuel $4800 / DraftKings $3300
Herndon isn’t considered an elite tight end option, at least not yet. To his credit, he had an excellent rookie year and joined several current elite options (Kittle, Ertz, Andrews, Gronk) as one of a few rookies to average at least 8.0 guards per target since 2000 (as per Pro Football Focus). A combination of suspended games and injuries sunk Herndon’s second year in the league, so I’m willing to give him a pass. Tight ends playing for teams with banged-up wide receivers seems to be a common theme today and Herndon falls into that same category.
The New York Jets have the lowest implied team total on the slate (16.5), so my expectations are tempered when it comes to his ceiling. That being said, he’s talented, cheap, and should see lots of looks from quarterback Sam Darnold (NYJ), as he and his teammates face the Buffalo Bills. His floor makes him a viable cash game option that won’t exactly fly under the radar this week (current ownership projections of 8.03% on DraftKings and 4.28% on FanDuel).
Hayden Hurst (ATL) – FanDuel $5300 / DraftKings $4300
Hurst is another tight end option who will be on many cash game teams this weekend. I can certainly understand why.
Last season, Austin Hooper (CLE) averaged over seven targets per game with Atlanta (146 receptions and 10 touchdowns over his final two seasons with the Falcons). Now that Hooper is gone and Hurst has assumed his role, it only makes sense to assume he will inherit a similar amount of volume on a per-game basis. If that turns out to be the case, this week’s matchup against Seattle could be one worth exploiting.
Last year, Seattle allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. The fact Hurst has caught more than three passes in a game only once in his career forces me to proceed with caution, however, if he can re-create the same chemistry with Matt Ryan (ATL) that Hooper had, Hurst can take a step to the next level right out the gate. With a projected ownership level of 7.69% on DraftKings and 6.18% on FanDuel, he won’t fly under anyone’s radar, so consider that when constructing your tournament rosters.
Hunter Henry (LAC) – FanDuel $6000 / DraftKings $5300
Henry has the title of my second favorite tournament option at tight end this week. We know Henry is talented, however, the fact Tyrod Taylor (LAC) is now under center for the Los Angeles Chargers brings a lot of uncertainty. That’s the type of uncertainty you need to attack in tournaments.
Many will look at Taylor’s label as a rushing quarterback and consider the Chargers and their “run first” philosophy as negatives when it comes to considering Henry. However, if you recall, Charles Clay had over 500 yards in each of his three seasons with Taylor in Buffalo (as per Pro Football Focus). Those teams had Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as their primary wide receivers, so don’t count Henry out just yet. Would you really be surprised if he led the team in targets this season? I wouldn’t. Be sure to use his projected ownership of 2.06% on DraftKings and 2.13% on FanDuel to your advantage.
Darren Waller (LV) – FanDuel $6800 / DraftKings $5900
Waller is currently my third favorite tournament option at tight end this week. You would think that a matchup against the league’s worst defense (Carolina Panthers) would catapult him to the top of the list, however, the addition of rookies Henry Ruggs (LV) and Bryan Edwards (LV) gives me reason to think Waller may not be leaned on as heavily as he was last season. That being said, his talent and rapport with quarterback Derek Carr (LV) are unquestioned. Waller had a team-high 117 targets in 2019 and should continue to be a heavily targeted red zone threat. The Panthers defense is bad, y’all. Real bad. If you caught on before the end of last season and stacked their opponents, you took home “all the monies.” A Vegas stack including Waller and one of the aforementioned rookies is highly recommended.
Jared Cook (NO) – FanDuel $5900 / DraftKings $5500
As long as Drew Brees (NO) is under center for the Saints, Cook will be a tight end option to use in tournaments. He set career-high marks in yards per reception (16.4), yards per target (10.8) and touchdowns (nine) in his first season with the Saints (as per Pro Football Focus). He caught touchdown receptions in each of last season’s games against Tampa Bay, however, the addition of Emmanuel Sanders (NO) has me in “wait and see” mode. Based on my current projections, he doesn’t rate as a great value play, so I have to knock him down a little bit on my “favorite tight end” list. He does have projected ownership of 1.98% on DraftKings and 1.48% on FanDuel, so I’ll likely add him to a tournament lineup or two before it’s all said and done.
Logan Thomas (WSH) – FanDuel $4000 / DraftKings $2800
Listen, I’m not fooling myself into thinking Washington has anything even remotely close to a capable offense, however, that doesn’t seem to stop everyone from being on the Terry McLaurin (WSH) and Antonio Gibson (WSH) bandwagons. McLaurin clearly sits at the top of the pecking order when it comes to target share in this offense, however, the next guy in line is up for grabs.
Thomas is listed as the team’s starting tight end and received most of the first-team snaps in training camp. At minimum salary, he doesn’t have to do much to reach value. He certainly lets you roster beefcake at other positions and isn’t that crazy of a play during the first week of the season, where the only thing that’s certain is uncertainty. If anyone out there is looking for a “Kool-Aid” play at the tight end position, Thomas is it.
You might be asking yourselves, “What is a Kool-Aid play?” Well, it’s a player who is very low owned in a unique spot who could either catapult you to the top of the leaderboard or send you to the depths of the Atlantic. It’s a pick that’s not for the faint heart. Only drink the Kool-Aid if you truly believe. You might not die, but you will get sick.