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 hope you and your families had a happy, socially-distanced Turkey Day! Personally, I’m thankful to be in a position where I can give advice in an industry that I am passionate about. You know what else I’m thankful for? Travis Kelce (KC) and Darren Waller (LV) are back on the NFL DFS main slate! Can I get a “hallelujah”?! I know I usually complain about how crappy the tight end position can be, however, not having these guys around made things a lot worse. Inconsistency at tight end can give you the blues, however, these guys are the “chicken soup” we need this week.
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 that has a “high floor” and won’t kill you.
For the Week 12 slate, I’m rolling with Travis Kelce (KC) in all of my cash games and a large number of my tournament lineups. Unless this is your first time reading my article or hearing my thoughts on the position, you know exactly why. I’ll occasionally construct more than one cash game lineup, in which case I’ll show Darren Waller (LVR) some love as well. When it comes to tournaments, I’ll rotate the guys listed below, preferably as part of a primary or secondary stack.
Remember, when it comes to tournaments, do your best to correlate your tight end choice, either with his quarterback or the opposing teams running back/wide receiver. You want to get the most “bang for your buck” and correlation helps you do just that.
**NOTE: Ownership projections for each of the players listed below will be added after the Elite Fantasy ownership projections are released.
Travis Kelce (KC) – FanDuel $8000 / DraftKings $7000 / SD Multiplier 1.0x
Pop quiz! What do the numbers 17.0, 24.0, 14.7, 13.0, 27.8, 22.5, 6.1, 27.9, 28.9 and 29.9 have in common? (Those are a lot of numbers, so I’ll let you look at them again.) Well, those happen to be Kelce’s DraftKings scores over the course of the season. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there are a lot of games in which he’s scored more than 20 fantasy points. Even the games where he failed to reach 20 fantasy points were more than solid outings (with the exception of his floor performances, of course).
If you saw the “bonus content” I added to last week’s tight end article, you already know what I mean when I say Kelce is currently in “career season beefcake” mode. If you haven’t read the “bonus content” I added to last week’s tight end article, I highly recommend you do so. It will make choosing your tight end much easier on a week-to-week basis. The bottom line is “fit Kelce in when you can get Kelce in” (even against Tampa Bay, who is ranked 18th in DvP versus tight ends). That even applies to SuperDraft at a 1.0 x multiplier.
Darren Waller (LV) – FanDuel $7100 / DraftKings $6000 / SD Multiplier 1.3x
If you’re not quite ready to join “team jam ‘em in”, Waller is an excellent option at the tight end position in cash games this week. He is in “occasional beefcake” mode and finds himself in an awesome spot this weekend when he faces Atlanta (ranked 32nd in DvP versus tight ends). According to Pro Football Focus, Waller has at least five receptions in all but two games this season. He’s also averaging 14.0 PPR points per contest this year. Not quite as impressive as the 19.6 PPR points per game Kelce brings to the table, but it’s still pretty darn good.
Waller put up seven receptions (on seven targets) for 88 receiving yards and one touchdown last week against Kansas City and remains Derek Carr’s (LVR) favorite target. If he puts up a stellar outing against the Falcons, I may have to consider bumping Waller up to “full-time beefcake” status. I have him projected to be the second-highest scoring tight end on the slate. He’ll be heavily owned, so keep that in mind when constructing your tournament lineups.
Hunter Henry (LAC) – FanDuel $5900 / DraftKings $4800 / SD Multiplier 1.55x
Up until recently, the only knock on Henry was his lack of touchdown production. Well, he appears to be mitigating those concerns, as he has touchdown receptions in each of his last two games (4-30-1 against the Dolphins and 4-48-1 against the Jets). Henry will look to keep his touchdown streak alive this weekend as he faces Buffalo. The Bills are ranked 31st in DvP versus tight ends, so my money is on Henry. The Chargers are road underdogs this weekend (BUF -5.5), so I expect Justin Herbert (LAC) to look Henry’s way early and often. You can consider Henry my top “non-Kelce” tournament tight end option this week.
Evan Engram (NYG) – FanDuel $5600 / DraftKings $4500 / SD Multiplier 1.45x
I might sound like a broken record, however, it’s important to realize how much the Giants want to get Engram involved in their offense. He has nine or more targets in three of his last four games, including six red-zone targets (as per ESPN). Sure, he only saw three targets against Philadelphia prior to his team’s bye week, but I’ll consider that an outlier. This week, he faces Cincinnati. The Bengals are ranked 29th in DvP versus tight ends. They have allowed the third-most receiving yards to tight ends and the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position. If you’re looking for an environment in which Engram could reach his “ceiling”, this is probably as good as it’s going to get. Put him down as my second favorite “non-Kelce” tournament tight end option for the week.
Austin Hooper (CLE) – FanDuel $5100 / DraftKings $3800 / SD Multiplier 1.6x
Hooper only has seven targets over his last two games, however, that stat is rather deceiving. Don’t worry. He still has greater than 20% of his team’s target share in four of his last five games. For nearly a month now, Hooper and his teammates have been playing under “monsoon-like” conditions in Cleveland. This week, he travels to what should be much calmer conditions in Jacksonville. Usually, people leave Florida and go to Cleveland in order to avoid hurricanes. This weekend, in typical 2020 fashion, it will be the other way around. The Jaguars provide a “tasty” matchup, as they are ranked 25th in DvP against tight ends. The “extra juicy” part comes into play when you throw in the fact Jacksonville has allowed the most touchdowns to tight ends this season. Bon appétit.
Hayden Hurst (ATL) – FanDuel $5500 / DraftKings $3900 / SD Multiplier 1.75x
Hurst had a “performance to forget” last week against the New Orleans Saints, as he failed to come down with a reception (two targets). For the most part, Hurst has been a reliable option at tight end this season, logging six performances of over 50 receiving yards. He’s had other floor games against Seattle (6.8 fantasy points), Chicago (7.1 fantasy points) and Carolina (2.8 fantasy points), however, he bounced back immediately afterward.
Listen, he doesn’t have the best matchup in the world, as the Raiders are ranked 13th in DvP against tight ends, however, he could see an increase in target share if Julio Jones (ATL) is forced to sit with a hamstring injury. Hurst is nursing an injury of his own (ankle), so make sure he’s able to suit up before you take that “leap of faith” in GPPs. Recency bias and the little “MASH unit symbol” next to his name should keep his ownership extremely low.
Tyler Eifert (JAC) – FanDuel $4400 / DraftKings $2600 / SD Multiplier 1.85x
“Purple” is my favorite Kool-Aid flavor overall, however, Eifert is my favorite Kool-Aid flavor when it comes to tight ends this week. D.J. Chark (JAC) and Chris Conley (JAC) have been ruled out for this week’s contest against Cleveland, so Jacksonville’s receiving corp is going to be “wafer-thin”. Mike Glennon (JAC) will get the start under center for the Jaguars and has already said he’s going to go “balls to the walls” since he doesn’t know when he’s going to start again. Okay, he didn’t exactly use those terms, but you know what I mean.
I fully expect James Robinson (JAC) to see more work than he can handle, however, Cleveland’s pass defense is nothing to write home about (ranked 22nd in DvP versus the pass). If Glennon proves to be a man of his word, Eifert could end up being one of the main beneficiaries. While Eifert is officially in the NFL’s concussion protocol, it’s worth noting he was a full participant at practice Thursday and should gain medical clearance prior to Sunday’s kickoff.
Hon. mention that almost made the article includes Rob Gronkowski (TB), who takes on the Kansas City Chiefs (ranked 12th in DvP versus tight ends) in what is expected to be a close, high-scoring contest (slate high implied game total of 54.0/KC -3.5). I’m sure I’ll have a Brady-Godwin-Gronkowski stack out there somewhere before it’s all said and done.
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.