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? 2020 will be a memorable year for many reasons. While some will remember it for Covid-19 and politics, I will remember it as “the year that the tight end position was always difficult to fill out during roster construction.” The tight end position has been notoriously inconsistent throughout the years, however, this year has taken things to another level. When you add injuries to the equation, things only get worse (i.e. George Kittle). Despite the level of inconsistent performances, the criteria we use when looking for an optimal tight end in NFL DFS 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” and won’t kill you. This week, we have a little bit of everything.
For the Week 9 slate, I’m focusing on tight end options in the $4000-$4600 range in cash games on DraftKings and tight end options in the $5000-$5800 range in cash games on FanDuel. As per usual, I’ll spend up for beefcake in tournaments and take a shot or two with some cheaper guys here and there. 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.
Hayden Hurst (ATL) –(FanDuel $5600/DraftKings $4100/SD Multiplier 1.7x): Hurst has been popping up as a cash game play in a lot of my optimal lineups. I’m still looking to roster Noah Fant (DEN) as my cash game play, but I certainly understand the appeal of using Hurst. Calvin Ridley (ATL) is dealing with a foot injury and may not play today. Personally, I would be shocked if he took the field. While Christian Blake (ATL) is the “next man up” on the wide receiver depth chart, one of the main beneficiaries of Ridley’s absence would be Hurst. With six or more targets in six of the last eight games (and greater than 10.0 DraftKings points in each of the last three games) he has established himself as a factor in Atlanta’s offense. The matchup isn’t stellar (Denver is ranked 14th in DvP versus tight ends), however, his constant level of production and an expected uptick in market share puts him in play (current DraftKings ownership projection of 8.94%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 4.32%).
Travis Kelce (KC) – FanDuel $8000 / DraftKings $7200 / SD Multiplier 1.0x
If last week’s eight receptions (on 12 targets) for 109 yards and one touchdown didn’t convince you Kelce is worthy of his ranking as this season’s top tight end, perhaps this will help. He’s currently on pace for 96 receptions, 1220 yards and 12 touchdowns this season (as per Pro Football Focus). To put that in perspective, in 2019 he had 97 receptions, 1229 yards and five touchdowns. While he’s likely to see his fair share of regression in the touchdown department, he’s still this week’s top beefcake at tight end. On Sunday, he faces the Carolina Panthers, who rank ninth in DvP versus the position. I’ll gladly side with Kelce and his 27.28% target share in tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 14.72%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 11.44%).
Darren Waller (LV) – FanDuel $6400 / DraftKings $5800 / SD Multiplier 1.2x
With the recent injury to George Kittle (SF), the “cream” at tight end is starting to get rather thin. Luckily for us, Waller is still standing strong as my second favorite tight end this week and the number one receiving option for the Las Vegas Raiders (28.24% target share). Last week’s performance of five receptions (on six targets) for 28 receiving yards and zero touchdowns isn’t one he’ll want to remember, however, there’s only so much you can expect when you’re playing in the middle of a tornado. Wind shouldn’t be an issue this weekend, and Waller faces the Los Angeles Chargers (23rd in DvP versus tight ends).
While the Chargers usually have a formidable defense, they are a bunch of walking wounded right now, so look for the Raiders to “strike while the iron is hot.” According to Pro Football Focus, the Chargers’ last four games have produced total points of 69, 57, 68 and 61. If this game reaches a point total anything close to these recent numbers, you can expect Waller to be a hefty contributor. At the moment, his projected ownership levels are through the roof (current DraftKings ownership projection of 16.52 %, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 12.92 %). While this won’t phase me in cash games, it will make me consider going underweight in GPPs.
Noah Fant (DEN) – FanDuel $5800 / DraftKings $4600 / SD Multiplier 1.4x
Fant is the tight end I’m currently targeting for my cash game rosters. He hasn’t been flashy this season, however, Fant ranks fifth in targets (7.2), fourth in catches (4.8), fourth in yards (50.7) and fourth in air yards (54.3) this season (as per RotoWire). I know, right? Had no clue, and I’m the “tight end guy.” An ankle injury and changes at the quarterback position have caused Fant to fly under the radar, to some degree. I expect that to change soon.
Noah has 16 targets in the two games he’s played with Drew Lock (DEN) under center, logging 70% and 78% snap rates in those two outings. That bodes well for this weekend’s matchup against Atlanta. The Falcons rank 32nd in DvP against tight ends and have allowed them to score eight touchdowns this season (league-worst). Fant has a high floor for cash games and a high ceiling in tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 9.24%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 5.63%). Personally, I’ll stick with Fant in cash games and roll out his teammate Albert Okwuegbunam (DEN) in GPPs.
T.J. Hockenson (DET) – FanDuel $6000 / DraftKings $5100 / SD Multiplier 1.25x
Every week, it seems as though Hockenson is on the verge of disappointing, yet he ends up getting it done at the end of the day. He’s seen five or more targets in three of his last four games, to go along with three receiving scores during that same span. Sure, his teammate Jesse James (DET) tends to eat into his snap share, but when it comes to tight ends in Detroit, Hockenson is your guy.
That statement doesn’t usually carry a ton of weight. However, this weekend, T.J. faces Minnesota (17th in DvP versus tight ends). The Vikings allow the most yards per game to the tight end position, which should give Hockenson some breathing room. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (DET) will likely miss this weekend’s game due to a hip injury, further boosting Hockenson’s target share (nine receptions on nine targets for 118 receiving yards and one touchdown in the two games Golladay missed at the beginning of the season). Feel free to fire up TJ in cash games and/or tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 6.18%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 4.69%). He’s a great correlation play for those of you using Dalvin Cook (MIN) in GPPs.
Hunter Henry (LAC) – FanDuel $5600 / DraftKings $4000 / SD Multiplier 1.5x
Henry is going to break out any week now. I just know it. I know I say this every week, but at some point during the season, I’m going to be right. Henry has only one touchdown reception this season and hasn’t gotten more than 50 receiving yards since Week 2 (as per Pro Football Focus), however, when you’re part of a potent Los Angeles Chargers offense and your quarterback has thrown for three or more touchdowns in each of the last four games, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before he joins the party.
Henry is already on pace to set career highs in receptions and receiving yards, so I don’t want to make it seem like he’s been playing poorly. This week, he faces the Las Vegas Raiders, who rank 12th in DvP versus tight ends. Granted, this isn’t the best matchup in the world (at least from a DvP standpoint), however, the Chargers have an implied team total of 27.0 so Henry could make an impression before it’s all said and done. Give him some consideration in tournaments in the hopes this is the weekend he shows his true talents (current DraftKings ownership projection of 9.89%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 6.49%).
Evan Engram (NYG) – FanDuel $5500 / DraftKings $4300 / SD Multiplier 1.45x
Okay, there’s good news and bad news. First, the bad news. Engram has yet to find the end zone through eight weeks of the regular season (according to Pro Football Focus). What’s the good news? The Giants seem to be committed to getting him more involved in the offense. If you want proof, look no further than the 19 targets he’s seen over the last two weeks. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who already gets 21.60% of his team’s target share (fourth highest amongst tight ends). Engram has even had three rushes over his last two games.
This week, he faces the Washington Football Team (24th in DvP versus tight ends). Engram’s floor is “real” so I wouldn’t go there in cash games, however, he does have tournament upside in the event he finally reaches paydirt (current DraftKings ownership projection of 11.99%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 2.30%).
Eric Ebron (PIT) – FanDuel $5400 / DraftKings $4500 / SD Multiplier 1.65x
I knew Ebron was getting more and more involved in Pittsburgh’s offense, but 84% and 87% snap rates for the past two weeks are insane (as per Pro Football Focus). Last week, he had four receptions (five targets) for 48 receiving yards and one touchdown against the Ravens and has received less than five targets only once since Week 2.
There are a number of “mouths” to feed when it comes to the Steelers offense, however, a tight end who is heavily targeted in the red zone is always a good thing. That’s especially true this week when Ebron faces the Dallas Cowboys (16th in DvP versus tight ends). There’s a good chance the Steelers lean heavily on James Connor (PIT) this week, but that shouldn’t take Ebron out of the mix when you’re constructing your tournament rosters (current DraftKings ownership projection of 5.36%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 2.22%).
Mark Andrews (BAL) – FanDuel $6600 / DraftKings $4800 / SD Multiplier 1.15x
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Okay, that might be a bit harsh, but just a few weeks ago, Andrews was my favorite tight end and now he’s a “Kool-Aid” pick. This really has nothing to do with him. Sure, he hasn’t surpassed 60 receiving yards in a game this season (as per Pro football focus), however, he remains Baltimore’s number one red zone threat and could easily fall into the end zone multiple times in one week.
The real issue this week is twofold. He isn’t cheap, and he takes on the Indianapolis Colts (number one in DvP versus tight ends). The Colts have yet to allow a score to the tight end position, but it wouldn’t shock me if Andrews was the guy to put an end to that. If you’re feeling froggy, feel free to give him a shot in tournaments (current DraftKings ownership projection of 5.48%, with a FanDuel ownership projection of 2.81%).
Hon. mention that almost made the article includes Logan Thomas (WAS), who has shown increased efficiency with Kyle Allen (WSH) under center, posting 3-42-1 and 4-60-1 receiving lines in his last two games (taking on the New York Giants, who rank 10th in DvP versus 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.