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? Given the amount of value that opened up in Week 7, we were able to pay up for beefcake at tight end in NFL DFS cash games. Week 8 looks like a case of “déjà vu all over again.” With potential value in the form of DeeJay Dallas (SEA) and cheap New York Jets/Chicago Bears wide receivers, we find ourselves in a situation where ownership levels of the top options will be rather high. You know the drill by now. If this happens, take a chance on some cheaper, lower owned options who could find the end zone twice and spend up at the positions where everyone else is using value.
Also, 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. A great idea is to leverage the higher owned tight ends in tournaments by rostering their lower owned teammates. For example, rostering Henry Ruggs III (LVR) or Nelson Agholor (LVR) in lieu of the heavily owned Darren Waller (LVR) would go a long way in tournaments if Waller fails to live up to expectations and one of these other guys has a career game. It happens all the time. Rule of thumb: Identify where others are going to “zig” so you can know where to “zag.”
Ready to get into this week’s picks? Let’s do it.
George Kittle (SF) – FanDuel $7700 / DraftKings $7000 / SD Multiplier 1.05x
Kittle had five receptions last week (on seven targets) for 55 yards and zero touchdowns against New England. That was rather disappointing, seeing as how the San Francisco 49ers scored 33 points. The run game dominated San Francisco’s offensive plans, and the game was well in hand, so Kittle’s talents weren’t in high demand.
The 49ers are road underdogs (-2.5) when they take on Seattle this week, so I’m not expecting the same game flow as last week (implied team total of 25.8). Seattle Seahawks rank third in DvP against tight ends, however, we can all agree Kittle falls under the “matchup proof” category. The absence of teammate Debo Samuel (SF) will condense San Francisco’s passing attack even more than it already is. According to Pro Football Focus, Kittle has only played one full healthy game this season without Samuel, leading to 15 receptions (on 15 targets), 183 yards and one receiving touchdown (against Philadelphia).
I’m not expecting a repeat performance this week, however, Kittle projects to be my highest scoring tight end and is viable across all formats. His projected ownership levels will be rather high (DraftKings projected ownership of 14.85%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 12.35%), so I wouldn’t fault you for going underweight in GPPs.
Travis Kelce (KC) – FanDuel $7900 / DraftKings $6600 / SD Multiplier 1.0x
I’m usually not “one of those guys,” but after Kelce’s performance last week (three receptions on three targets for 31 receiving yards and no touchdowns), I feel as though he owes me some money. That being said, last week’s performance is a simple reminder floor games are always within the potential range of outcomes for any player on any given week. I’m willing to “forgive and forget” this week when Kelce takes on the New York Jets. I’m not intimidated by New York’s 17th in DvP ranking against tight ends, however, the Chiefs are projected to blow out the Jets by a hefty margin (-19.5). That leaves the door open for less than four quarters of quality play from Kelce. At that salary, you’re looking for him to show up and work an entire shift.
Sure, he could still put up damage in limited playing time, however, I’ll take my shots with him in GPPs. By the time kickoff arrives, there will be more than enough value for you to use Travis any way you like, so remember that when constructing your lineups (DraftKings projected ownership of 20.50%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 13.44%). There are a lot of other talented options on the slate (Kelce projects to be my second-highest scoring tight end), so if the projected ownership levels hold true, I will take the “underweight route” when it comes to Kelce in tournaments.
Darren Waller (LV) – FanDuel $6800 / DraftKings $5600 / SD Multiplier 1.2x
Waller projects to be a highly owned tight end option this week (DraftKings projected ownership of 17.55%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 11.86%). There’s a good reason for that. He’s an incredible physical specimen (6’6” and 255 pounds/4.46 second 40-yard dash, as per Pro Football Focus), and he checks off all the boxes when it comes to tight ends this week. Waller 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. He has four targets inside the 10-yard line this season, while no other Raiders wide receiver has more than one (as per Pro Football Focus).
This week, the Las Vegas Raiders are road underdogs (-2.5) and have an implied team total of 24.3. That means Waller should get a lot of work against the Cleveland Browns, who rank 22nd in DvP versus tight ends. Waller is an excellent cash game option (I’ll likely land on him when it’s all said and done), however, his ownership level makes him a potential fade (or underweight) candidate in GPPs.
Mark Andrews (BAL) – FanDuel $7000 / DraftKings $5800 / SD Multiplier 1.15x
As part of a “run-first” offense, Andrews might not see as much volume as the other beefcake options on the slate, however, he’s a red zone darling and the number two receiving option in a highly condensed passing game. According to Pro Football Focus, Andrews has a total of 33 targets on the season, while teammate Marquise Brown (BAL) has 44 targets. That’s not too bad, considering the third-most targeted option doesn’t even have 20 targets.
Andrews has a difficult matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank sixth in DvP versus tight ends. It never comes as a surprise when I see that Andrews falls into the end zone multiple times in one game, however, these AFC North conference games are usually lower scoring affairs. That’s enough reason for me to avoid Andrews in cash games and utilize him as a low-owned/high-ceiling option in GPPs (DraftKings projected ownership of 3.33%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 2.45%). I have him projected to score the fourth-most tight end fantasy points this week, yet he ranks 11th in projected ownership.
Jonnu Smith (TEN) – FanDuel $6100 / DraftKings $4100 / SD Multiplier 1.4x
Smith is currently penciled in as my tight end in cash games. However, when value opens up, I will likely upgrade to Waller. While he gets “style points” for playing injured last week, that didn’t translate into very many fantasy points (1.9 DraftKings points). On the surface, his one reception (on four targets) for nine yards and zero touchdowns was a huge disappointment, however, his 70% snap rate (as per Pro Football Focus) helps to reassure he will remain the Titans number two option in the passing game.
This week, he faces Cincinnati, who rank 31st in DvP versus tight ends and allow the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. That should give him a pretty high floor in this matchup. Not too shabby for a guy who could also fall into the end zone two times (DraftKings projected ownership of 5.92%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 3.46%). He might not end up on my cash game roster, but he’ll definitely end up in my tournament lineups.
Hunter Henry (LAC) – FanDuel $5600 / DraftKings $4200 / SD Multiplier 1.5x
Henry finds himself as part of one of the more potent offenses in the league, courtesy of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert (LAC). While he hasn’t surpassed 50 yards since Week 3 and has found the end zone only once this season (as per Pro Football Focus), Henry has seven targets in all but one game. That’s good enough for 20% target share on the season, putting him in elite company (Kittle, Andrews, Kelce and Waller). What does all of this mean? Basically, it’s a long-winded way of saying Henry has a solid floor and could have a ceiling game on any given week. This weekend, he faces Denver, who rank 15th in DvP versus tight ends. I won’t be utilizing him in cash games, however, he can break out at any moment and is an excellent tournament option (DraftKings projected ownership of 7.01%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 4.24%).
Jimmy Graham (CHI) – FanDuel $5400 / DraftKings $4600 / SD Multiplier 1.65x
“Father Time” keeps tapping Graham on the shoulder, however, he continues to find himself as a viable tight end option in some way, shape or form each week.
This week, he reaches viability in the form of a “Kool-Aid” option. Graham has at least five targets in all but one game this season (as per Pro Football Focus), however, his “make or break” value depends heavily upon reaching the end zone. Having a suboptimal quarterback under center in the form of Nick Foles (CHI) doesn’t increase his chances of scoring. However, this weekend, Graham faces the New Orleans Saints (ranked 30th in DvP versus tight ends) and could be leaned upon very heavily if Allen Robinson (CHI) doesn’t clear the league’s concussion protocol in time to make the game. He’s an, “if you ain’t first you’re last” option who will come at very low ownership (DraftKings projected ownership of 1.72%, with projected FanDuel ownership of 1.58%).
If you’re looking for another “Kool-Aid” play, give Mike Gesicki (MIA) a try. It’s “Tua Time” in Miami, which means lots of uncertainty. Learn how to embrace this uncertainty in tournaments. Gesicki could be held without a catch like he was last week against the New York Jets, or he could be Tua’s safety valve and end up with 80 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The Los Angeles Rams rank 23rd in DBP versus opposing tight ends, so neither outcome would surprise me. If you really want to get freaky, you can run it back with Malcolm Brown (LAR). Both of these guys could easily find the end zone.
Hon. mentions that almost made the article include David Njoku (CLE) and Harrison Bryant (CLE), who will fill in for an injured Austin Hooper (CLE) and take on the Las Vegas Raiders (ranked 13th in DvP versus tight ends).
What’s up y’all? This weekend looks to be more interesting than usual, as we have several weather related issues that could affect the outcome of more than one game on the slate. This, in turn, will affect how you construct your cash game and tournament rosters. Personally, when I’m constructing lineups I act as if every day is going to be sunny and cloud free. I wait until Sunday morning before I start considering what games I should be concerned about. When I’m looking at potential weather issues it’s not so much about the precipitation, as it is wind speed. Sure, games that take place in heavy rain could lead to a slippery football or unsure footing, but the wind can make advancing the football down the field a living nightmare, even on the driest days. The magic number seems to be 20 mile-per-hour winds (sustained). To be honest, I don’t know who decided that number. Personally, the wind speed doesn’t have to be exactly 20 miles an hour to get my attention, however, anything close to that should get your “Spidey senses” tingling. Strong winds make it difficult to throw the ball downfield, limiting the ceiling of those ADOT (average distance of target) and “air yards” studs we talk about during the week. Here’s a list of the games that have potential implications this week.
New England at Buffalo (-4.5) – over/under: 41.0 (decreased by 5.0)
Tennessee (-7.0) at Cincinnati – over/under: 51.0 (decreased by 3.0)
Las Vegas @ Cleveland (-2.0) – over/under: 40.0 (decreased by 5.0)
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-6.0) – over/under: 50.0 (decreased by 4.5)
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-4.0) – over/under: 46.5 (decreased by 3.0)
New Orleans (-4.5) @ Chicago – over/under: 42.5 (decreased by 2.0)
These games will be heavily targeted when comes to DFS, so having a plan in place would be wise.
– Make sure you have access to a reliable source when it comes to expected local weather conditions for each game. You have lots of options. A combination of NFL pregame shows, fantasy sports radio, your favorite fantasy providers chat room (ahem) and Twitter should suffice.
– Come up with pivots for each player in your lineup that could be affected by potential weather hazards. You should at least write this down my hand, that way you’re not trying to remember who your options are off the top of your head. Coming up with a list beforehand also helps you choose guys that are close in salary to the players that are already in your lineup, preventing you from having to scrap your entire roster and start from scratch. This is most important when it comes to wide receivers. Guys that make their living off of catching long passes will lose favor to receivers that make thrive in the slot. Screen passes and dump offs will rule the day in high wind scenarios, so targeting the guys that benefit the most would make sense.
–Let common sense overrule your optimizer. Optimizers are awesome, however, they are only as good as what you put into them. Some optimizers may try to make corrections based on the elements, however, sometimes you need to trust your judgment. If the winds swirling in Lambeau Field are somewhere around 25 mph, I’m not rostering Davante Adams (GB), I don’t care what my optimizer tells me (at least not in cash games).
–Consider running out at “weatherproof lineup” in cash games. This week, guys like Derek Carr (LVR), Darren Waller (LVR) and the Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers look very appetizing in cash games, however, their floors could fall below their feet if the weather doesn’t cooperate. I love Tee Higgins (CIN) as much as the next guy, but if he ends up with two receptions for 18 receiving yards and he’s in your lineup, you’re not going to win.
-In order to decrease any risks in cash games this week, paying up for a “weatherproof” stud like Russell Wilson (SEA) at quarterback (or the stud QB of your choice) would be a good idea. The goal is to look for someone that will look to “air it out” instead of passively handing off the ball to his running back.
– Locking in beefcake at running back (even in high wind games, as long as they receive lots of touches) would be my next move. Luckily we have guys like Kamara, Henry, Hunt and Williams to choose from (among others). Some of these guys might even get a higher workload than normal if their teams find their passing game limited by winds.
-Jamming in a guy like Keenan Allen (LAC) in cash games will give your wide receiving corps a sturdy “weatherproof” foundation. You’ll need to surround him with cheap wide receivers in potential high volume situations (like guys from the New York Jets and/or San Francisco 49ers), but you’ll need these guys in order to make it work.
-A “weatherproof” tight end like Noah Fant (DEN) can be useful in cash games. Tim Patrick (DEN) may miss this weekend’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers with a hamstring injury, potentially opening the door for more targets for Fant.
–In tournaments, put on your windbreaker on and strap in. While games with weather complications aren’t the best targets when it comes to cash games, I run toward them in GPPs. Everyone’s been talking about wind implications all week, keeping the projected ownership levels of the “sexy” games under control. Some people will bail at the last minute, however, “Scared money don’t make money!”. In tournaments I’ll be stacking up the passing games from the games with potential wind conditions at what could be much lower than expected ownership levels. Hey man, if Tyler Boyd (CIN) catches a wide receiver screen pass and takes it 80 yards to the house it comes the same as an 80 yard bomb. I’ll take 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, 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.