Welcome to the NFL DFS TE Coach, where we identify the best tight ends for our DraftKings, FanDuel and SuperDraft lineups!
What’s up my peeps? I must admit, when I first looked at the schedule and saw Travis Kelce (KC) on a bye week, I thought to myself, “Aw crap!” After careful examination, however, things aren’t as bad as they seem. While the level of beefcake thins out significantly without Kelce in the NFL DFS player pool, we are still left with several talented options who are in good matchups. The slate is somewhat “broken” due to the amount of value out there (meaning you can roster whomever you want), however, making wise decisions at the tight end position can win you “all the monies.”
Despite the level of inconsistent performances from tight ends, the criteria we use when looking for an optimal tight end always stays the same. When you’re looking for the ultimate tight end, you want someone who is on the field for a large percentage of the offense’s snaps, runs routes for most of those snaps (instead of blocking), is heavily targeted (especially in the red zone), and plays for a team that is expected to put up lots of “real life” points. It’s hard to check off all of those boxes. Most weeks, you need to either spend up for beefcake or try to snag a player in a good matchup who has a “high floor” that won’t kill you.
For the Week 10 slate, I’m banking the value available at the other positions (i.e. Mike Davis, Jakeem Grant, Duke Johnson, Chris Conley, etc.) and paying up for Darren Waller (LV) in cash games. In tournaments, I’ll let ownership guide my decision and go overweight on low owned guys who could realistically find the end zone once or twice this weekend. Sure, there’s going to be a tight end out there who comes away with a random “Irv Smith (MIN) like” performance (two receiving touchdowns against Detroit last week). However, instead of trying to guess which random guy is going to pull it off, I’ll stick with the dudes who have high snap counts and are heavily targeted in the red zone.
Remember, when it comes to tournaments, do your best to correlate your tight end choice, either with his quarterback or the opposing team’s running back/wide receiver. You want to get the most bang for your buck and correlation helps you do just that.
Darren Waller (LV) – FanDuel $7000 / DraftKings $5900 / SD Multiplier 1.15x
With Travis Kelce (KC) on a bye week, Waller remains the only “cream” option available. Sure, he has a couple of “floor performances” this season, but when it comes to meeting the above criteria for “beefcake” at tight ends, he fits the bill. He’s a threat to score a touchdown and/or come away with close to 100 receiving yards any given week, even in this weekend’s matchup against the Denver Broncos (ranked 13th in DvP versus tight ends). Waller sits at the top of my tight end projections this week and should easily slide into your cash game lineup (current DraftKings ownership projection of 15.82%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 10.83%). The plethora of value options at other positions means Waller will be owned by “everyone and his mother.” While that’s fine in cash games, you may want to consider an underweight position when it comes to tournaments.
T.J. Hockenson (DET) – FanDuel $6200 / DraftKings $5100 / SD Multiplier 1.2x
Like I said last week, just when you think Hockenson is going to fall flat, he seems to pull a rabbit out of his hat to get the job done. Week 9 was no different, as he came up with a 5-39-1 stat line against the Minnesota Vikings. I keep “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” but the fact Hockenson has over 50 receiving yards and/or a touchdown reception in every game this season cannot be ignored. Kenny Golladay (DET) remains questionable with a hip injury, but I’d be shocked if he plays this weekend. If this is indeed the case, Hockenson should remain heavily involved in Detroit’s passing game (six, 10 and eight targets over the past three weeks).
This weekend’s matchup against Washington should keep Hockenson’s streak of solid performances intact, as they are ranked 27th in DvP versus tight ends. I’ll likely spend all the way up at the position in cash games, however, T.J. is certainly on my radar when it comes to tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 7.22%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 5.68%). One thing to note is the fact Hockenson was unable to practice Thursday due to a toe injury. If he is unable to take the field this weekend, you can slide his teammate Jesse James (DET) in as a “Kool-Aid” play.
Dallas Goedert (PHI) – FanDuel $5800 / DraftKings $4200 / SD Multiplier 1.5x
Goedert may have put up a 1-15-0 stat line last time he took the field (against the Dallas Cowboys prior to the bye week), however, let’s cut the guy some slack. He missed the four games prior to that one with a lower leg/ankle injury and may have been easing himself back into “game shape.” He still played 86% of his team’s offensive snaps, easing any concerns I might have had with regards to his relevance to the team’s offense. Zach Ertz (PHI) is still on the IR, leaving Goedert as the main feature at the tight end position for the Eagles. This weekend, he faces the New York Giants, who rank ninth in DvP versus tight ends. However, that shouldn’t give you much reason to pause when it comes to rostering Goedert in tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 6.06%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 4.12%).
Evan Engram (NYG) – FanDuel $5600 / DraftKings $4500 / SD Multiplier 1.35x
I’ve been saying the New York Giants want to get Engram more involved in the offense, and they have proven me right over the past three weeks. During that span, he’s had no less than nine targets in each game, while seeing the field for greater than 75% of his offense’s snaps. He finally reached paydirt against the Washington “Potatoes” last week, coming down with his first receiving touchdown of the season (5-48-1). He could certainly keep the streak alive this week, as he faces Philadelphia. The Eagles are ranked 29th in DvP versus tight ends, putting Engram in play as a fine choice in both cash games and tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 6.59%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 5.04%).
Austin Hooper (CLE) – FanDuel $5100 / DraftKings $3900 / SD Multiplier 1.55x
There’s “good news” and there’s “even better news” when it comes to Hooper. The “good news” is the fact that Hooper is healthy enough to take the field this weekend after having his appendix removed. He missed two games prior to the bye week and should be good to go. The “even better news” is the fact that his salary doesn’t reflect his increased role in the Cleveland Browns offensive scheme.
Hooper is averaging over seven targets per game (7.7) in the three games prior to his surgery and has five receptions in each game during that same span. This is Hooper’s first game of the season without Odell Beckham (CLE) in the lineup. That could mean an increase in target share, which is always a good thing when it comes to tight ends. This week, he has a sweet matchup against the Houston Texans, who rank 23rd in DvP against tight ends. So fire up Hooper in all formats (current DraftKings ownership projection of 8.50%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 6.37%).
Eric Ebron (PIT) – FanDuel $5400 / DraftKings $4400 / SD Multiplier 1.6x
I love Ebron as a tight end tournament option this week. Truth be told, given his role in the potent Pittsburgh Steelers passing attack, Ebron is a fine choice in GPPs on any given week. He has a chance to break your heart, but he also has the opportunity to fall into the end zone, like he did last week against the Dallas Cowboys (3-22-1). He has receiving touchdowns in each of his last two games and gets to face a team that is one of the worst in the league when it comes to defending the position. Cincinnati ranks 31st in DvP against tight ends, giving him one of the best matchups on the slate.
The presence of talented wide receivers like Smith-Schuster, Claypool and Johnson leave the door open for a “floor performance” on any given week, however, if you’re looking for a guy who is on the field for greater than 85% of his team’s snaps and could find the end zone twice this weekend, Ebron makes the list (current DraftKings ownership projection of 2.78%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 3.39%).
Jacob Hollister (SEA) – FanDuel $4700 / DraftKings $2600 / SD Multiplier 1.7x
Hollister is my favorite flavor of “Kool-Aid” this week. Seattle seems to be fed up with the lack of production they’re seeing at the tight end position. Who could blame them? Greg Olsen (SEA) and Will Dissly (SEA) just aren’t getting it done. Last week, the Seahawks “unleashed” Hollister and he responded with five receptions (on seven targets) for 60 yards (zero touchdowns). Sure, that stat line isn’t “eye-popping,” however, the main takeaway is the fact Hollister led Seattle’s tight ends in snap share (48%) and targets (as per RotoWire). There’s no guarantee Seattle will continue to “free Hollister,” but if they do, that could make him a sneaky option to pair with Russell Wilson (SEA) in GPPs.
Hon. mention that almost made the article includes Noah Fant (DEN), who aggravated an ankle injury last week, crushing the hopes and dreams of many DFS’ers, like me in the process. This week, he takes on the Las Vegas Raiders, who are ranked 10th in DvP vs tight ends.
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, and 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.