Tight End Key Considerations

by Shamin Shah, June 16, 2020 – 10 minute read

A few things to know

While tight ends may not seem that important, and isn’t the “sexiest” position in fantasy football, a solid strategy during your draft can keep you from scrambling week to week taking dart throws with whatever TEs are on the waiver wire.

  1. TEs that are the #1 receiving option on their team gets significantly more targets than TEs who are not. This seems obvious, but another way to look at it is that these TEs end up not being TD dependent to be relevant. For all TEs from 2019, #1 receiving options on their teams included Kelce, Kittle, and Ertz. Due to injuries to WRs last year, it also included Waller, Andrews and Engram. Coincidentally, these were 6 of the top 7 scoring TEs last year on a per game average. The one missing on this list was Hooper.
  2. For the 2020 season, we will continue to see Kelce, Kittle, and Ertz as the #1 passing option on their respective teams. However, usage for Waller, Andrews, and Engram to start the season will likely decline as WRs on their teams start the season healthy.
  3. For TEs who are not the #1 passing option on their team, other top scorers were all on solid passing offenses: Cook, Hooper, Dissly, Higbee and Henry. 
  4. Cook and Higbee are theHigbee the only players here with a similar situation. Hooper went to CLE, Dissly is coming back from a season ending injury, and Henry has a new QB. Other potentials that fit the mold under this category this upcoming year include Hurst (replacing Hooper), Hockenson, Ebron (if Rothlesberger comes back healthy) and potentially Doyle (who sits atop the depth chart and gets Rivers who absolutely loves going to his TE throughout his career).
  5. There are a number of TEs in timeshares that can potentially cause them to have low upside. This includes Ertz/Goedart, Hooper/NDjoku, Gronkowski/Howard, Higbee/Everett and Olsen/Dissly.
  6. There are a number of TEs who are part of bottom tier offenses who will end up being TD dependent. This includes Fant, Gesicki, and Jonnu Smith. 
  7. Backing up tight ends isn’t as necessary. There are always going to be TEs available on the waiver wire that are going to be very similar to your backups. However, if you are streaming TEs for the entire season, I suggest you get these players one week early as people will continually be targeting them for the upcoming week. 

Some Specific Player related notes on tight ends

  1. Be wary of drafting Hunter Henry. Throughout his career, Rivers loved relying on his TE’s. We don’t know if we can say the same for Tyrod Taylor yet.
  2. Matt Ryan has generally loved going to his TE’s as well, so look for ATL to use Hurst the same way they used Hooper last year. With the easy schedule to start, there is no better way for Hurst to get merged into the offense quickly.
  3. Higbee and Gronkowski are going to start the season in the midst of a timeshare. As stated earlier, we are not sure on their utilization because of this. On the other hand, Ertz has been playing with Goedart for a few seasons now and still ends up on top of the TE ranks.
  4. If you end up streaming TEs, and one guy ends up with a few good games in a row, stop treating him as a week to week streamer and start playing him every week. Consistency is hard to come by for streamers, so it’s always better to play someone who is proven rather than playing a TE strictly based on matchup. 
  5. Game flows matter for TEs, but not as much as other positions. A lot of the top TEs produce huge numbers even when they are on solid teams who are usually up late, including Kittle, Kelce, and Andrews. 
  6. To sum it up:
    1. There is going to be value in drafting players like Cook, Fant, and Hurst
    2. If your strategy is to wait to draft a TE, then you can grab someone like Hurst and Gronkowski and be fine to start the season
    3. Major question marks for players like Henry (new QB), Hooper (new team/timeshare) and Goedart (timeshare)
  7. On a final note, find different ways to do your own kind of analysis that makes sense to you. Turning information into something relevant to your draft strategy is the reason why we do so much analysis to prepare for our drafts.  Make sure to do some mock drafts to identify which strategy works best (picking up a tier 1 TE early, picking up a mid tier TE, or picking up a TE very late).
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