Let me start this week with a rant, because it needs to be done. If you are playing on DraftKings, Yahoo, or any other competent DFS site, you have all of the options available. FanDuel decided to make each day a main slate to try and suck out more rake and they can go fuck themselves.
Let me start this week with a rant, because it needs to be done. If you are playing on DraftKings, Yahoo, or any other competent DFS site, you have all of the options available. FanDuel decided to make each day a main slate to try and suck out more rake and they can go fuck themselves. Two seperate two game main slates is absolute garbage. I want to make sure I say this and everyone bitches to them about it, because it’s bullshit. I normally play more volume on DK anyway, but I’m not touching either of those slates on FanDuel this week. I’ll give my FanDuel money to Fantasy Draft or Yahoo this weekend instead.
Now the reason I mention this is because I want you guys to be aware of it when I go through the top plays. By cutting the slate in half it forces you into playing certain guys that you otherwise wouldn't touch when I had 15-16 games to talk about. This week with just 4 games and 8 teams, we have very few guys who even make a little bit of sense. I don't doubt we'll end up with a 70% TE on each of those 2 slates with one or two other 10-20% guys and then a few with 1-5% ownership on a prayer for GPPs.
Eric Ebron – Ebron is the #1 TE on my board for this slate, including the Sunday games and Zach Ertz. I know that sounds crazy, but let me make the case for him. Ebron ended the season #1 in TDs for the position. He averaged near 10 targets in games played without Jack Doyle too. The number was higher, but Ebron had played through injuries the last few weeks of the season. In the last two games the targets have crept back up. On top of that TY Hilton is not 100%. This could be huge for Ebron as the weapons behind him are a huge downgrade from Hilton. That could serve as a way to funnel more looks back towards Ebron who has had a bunch of double digit target games this season. Houston does have a very good defense, one that stops the run, limits QBs, and keeps down WRs, but the one weak spot has been against TEs. They allowed the 4th most fantasy points to the position on the season. Ebron is the second best TE on the slate in terms of talent, but when you factor his matchup v. Ertz taking on a Bears defense that only allowed one player all season to top 50 yards (Kittle 7/74), it makes more sense to take a slight discount and go down to Ebron. I honestly don't think this is a hot take either as I expect Ebron to be higher owned than Ertz on a 4-game slate. On the Saturday only slate, Ebron is likely to be 70% owned as the rest of the options are not inspiring.
Zach Ertz – Ertz has had one of the better TE seasons in the history of the league. I know he was overshadowed a bit by Kittle and Kelce vying for the record for receiving yards at the position, but Ertz still had a ridiculous statistical season himself. He was #1 in targets with 156, #1 in catches with a massive 116, and #3 in yards for tight ends. In fact, his numbers rank him 6th overall for targets at any position and 2nd in catches behind only Mike Thomas. I mention these not to tell you Ertz is good, we already know that, but to show you just how good he is. The reason this matters is that we have one of those unstoppable force and immovable object comparisons to ponder this weekend. Ertz is one of the best receiving threats in the league at any position (Unstoppable Force), yet the Bears defense was one of the stingiest on the season to the TE position. The biggest game they allowed was 7/74 to George Kittle and they shut down everyone else for 50 yards or less. Now this is the question we have to ponder. Zach Ertz is in that George Kittle class, so at the very least we know you can get some production here. The problem is 7/74 is not really a big monster game. If that’s the best we can hope for in the best case scenario. Is Ertz worth the money we need to pay for him? Certainly in cash I can't say to play a guy against a team that held all but one TE under 50 yards this year. In tournaments at low ownership I can see the case for it, but it’s not like Ertz is going to go unowned. On the Sunday FanDuel slate I am willing to fade him as likely 60-70% chalk, but the real question comes on 4 game slates. How highly owned do you think Ebron is? If that number is too high, at some point Ertz at ½, ⅓, ¼ of the ownership would be more interesting. My problem is I doubt people ignore Ertz, so I think he still takes some ownership and I think Ebron has a higher ceiling and a higher floor for less money. Outside of the Sunday only type slates or maybe a showdown roster, I can't see myself playing Ertz this week. I’ve faded him for Kelce and Kittle at various points of the season and felt more anxiety about that than I do fading him for Ebron this week. That’s how bad this matchup against the Bears is for him.
Blake Jarwin – I have Jarwin as my #3 overall TE on the week and the #1 swerve off of Eric Ebron on GPP rosters. So on the FanDuel saturday only slate, these are literally the only two guys I even really want any exposure to. Jarwin is not going to repeat last weekend. They played that game without Zeke and didn't lean as heavily on the run as they will this weekend. Still in that game and 2 of the last three before it he did see 7 targets, which is actually more than Ebron has seen over the last few weeks. Jarwin is not normally a big play kind of guy though. He had all three of his TDs on the season in that last game and his longest reception was 22 yards coming into that game. Jarwin is more of a 4/40 on 7 target kind of guy, which would require a TD to really make any kind of upside noise this week. Seattle was tough on TEs this year too, giving up the 11 fewest fantasy points to the position. Plus both teams like to pound the run and control clock, so not much points to him as being a great play. This is why Ebron is my clear #1 on the Saturday slate and the weekend as a whole. Still compared to the other guys, at least Jarwin sees enough volume to possibly outscore a TD scorer even if he doesn't get into the end zone.
Mark Andrews – Andrews is my sneaky play for the Sunday only slate. He’s a legit receiving TE and even if he’s not playing every snap, he’s playing the ones that matter when they pass. This is not an upside play either though as the Ravens are not passing nearly as often with Lamar Jackson playing QB, but Jackson is looking at him often when he does pass. Andrews's targets have crept up, but we are still only talking 2-5 in each of the last 5 games. Still with Jackson only throwing 20-25 times, the 4 and 5 targets he had in 2 of the last three weeks is good enough for a 20% market share. Unlike Jarwin, Andrews does have big play ability. He’s athletic with good hands, so he could break off a 30-50 yarder as he has done a couple times in recent weeks. That yardage upside is what makes me like him. Most guys are not even going to see 5 targets and most of them at the position have a very low aDot with no ability to get yards after the catch. Andrews isn't one of those guys and he too could beat a 1/1/1 statline without finding the endzone.
Trey Burton – Burton is the only other guy I think that makes sense in this tier. He’s likely the only other guy that can produce enough without a TD to outscore some random TE that does get one. In the last three weeks he has had at least 5 targets in every game. 7 was his highest and while it’s not huge, it is more targets than he saw in any other game except the explosion week against the Patriots when he went 9/126/1 on 11 targets. Every other game he had 5 or less with many of them just 2-4 targets. Still he has had at least 4 catches for 30+ yards in each of the last three games. He lacks major upside, but that’s enough to outscore a TD catcher at the position on DK. On FD you still would rather just find a guy to get in the endzone and unfortunately Burton has not been doing that often. He did end the season with 6, but only one of them came after week 9. Burton is priced right below the top options, but I can't really justify using him. The Eagles gave up the fourth fewest points to the position this year, so even the matchup is one I’d rather avoid.
Best of the Rest
NOTE: These are our other options at TE and none of them see enough consistent looks or get enough production out of those looks to be viable without a TD. Simple math tells us that anyone who catches a TD pass gets at least 7.1 DK points and 6.6 FD points, and every one of these guys can do that. The problem is these guys all see 3 targets a game max, so without a TD, none of them make value. If you are playing these guys, you are doing it for price safety and hoping to get a TD out of it. Otherwise it doesn’t really make sense to go here.
Antonio Gates – He at least has had an upside game or two this year and obviously a bunch earlier in his career. He’s probably the best punt option, although there is something interesting too.
Hunter Henry – Listen, I do my homework, unlike Stephen A Smith. I realize he’s been out all year, but the rumor is that he may come back for this game. He’s also likely to be limited, but limiting him means using him only in goal line and third down situations with high leverage. If that’s the case, he could be in line for a TD. Again, with the middle tier of guys likely to all put up 7-10 fantasy points if they don't find the end zone, using Henry at min price and getting one catch for a TD from one yard away would be enough to justify him on a price v. production basis. Again, no guarantee he plays or makes any plays, but this is a GPP punt type section for any of these guys anyway.
Jordan Thomas/Ryan Griffin – I prefer Thomas to Griffin, because Thomas at least has been a red zone option. Griffin does more blocking and sees very few balls. Thomas is more of a receiving TE and more athletic. Again, not a ton of interest, but he’s a worthy punt option on a DeShaun Watson roster. Outside of that, I likely wouldn't touch him.
Nick Vannett/Ed Dickson – Neither of these guys sees over 3 targets with any kind of regularity and most games even asking for three is a stretch. At best you get 2/20/1 out of either of them. I prefer Vannett, but don't really see a need or reason for him.
Dallas Goedert – If the matchup is horrendous for Ertz, it’s not like Goedert is much better. Still if Ertz draws attention and Goedert gets into the end zone, you at least have a guy in line with the top 5 options.
Mo Alie-Cox – Again here he’s not the top TE on his team and not likely to see over 3 targets, so outside of a TD you get very little from him. Still I do like that game the best of the four to possibly shootout and punting with the guys in the highest scoring game is a good strategy.