Loose Ends - Making Sense of the TE position in Week 6
I've spent more time complaining about the tight end position in the NFL this season than I have about writing about it, so I figured it was time to just dig into this thing. We're coming off a week where Nick Vannett was in the 2nd overall FanDuel Million lineup with a 3 catch for 43 yard performance, and Vance McDonald was a 75% cash game play just because he was cheap. I think it's pretty safe to say that the tight end situation has never been more dire - but that doesn't mean there aren't a few diamonds in the rough out there that we can consider.
In my week 6 cash game article I talked about Ertz, Ebron, and Njoku - but where else might we be able to look this week?
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Punting a position that's already full of punts
We've already learned this lesson from Eric Ebron, but one trend that's held fairly constant over time is: when a team is scheming for their tight end, they are often willing to give the back-up a shot at assuming the vacated targets. To that end, I think we have a few interesting full-on punt options we can look at for week 6.
Cameron Brate FD 4500 DK 3700
Proj Points FD - 9.31 DK - 11.05
Brate had a three game foray as "the guy" at tight end last season, topping eight targets and 60 yards in three straight games, scoring in a touchdown in two of them. He's got the size and the hands to be an attractive red zone target, and on a team where the top receiving options are Desean Jackson and Mike Evans, somebody has to be able to reliably move the chains. OJ Howard is currently listed as a game time decision, but his return would mean he came back on the early end of his 2-4 week timetable, and it's possible he'd be limited even in his return. It's the game with the highest total on the main slate, and it's far from unreasonable to suspect that we'd see a big game out of Brate if he was the only pass-catching tight end to suit up here. Given the free price tag at a bad position, it's hard to imagine Brate not being a big time cash game play if Howard misses, and he's honestly playable even if Howard suits up.
Erik Swoope FD 4700 DK 2500
Proj Points FD - 7.53 DK - 9.87
Here's a name I never knew I'd put into an article! Listen - the Colts are the most pass-happy team in the entire NFL right now, and Andrew Luck is having a hell of a time passing down field. Hilton has been all but ruled out, and the Colts are looking at a passing attack of Chester Rogers and Nyheim Hines. Ebron suited up for Friday's practice, but he's literally being listed with four separate injuries on the injury report. Based on Swoope's 3 targets last week, he appears to be next in line for a team that is heavily relying on the tight end right now.
How much can we rely on a one week sample?
Niles Paul FD 4800 DK 2600
Proj Points FD - 7.54 DK - 9.2
You could easily put Paul in the above group, but I'm just a little bit gun-shy on him at the moment. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins officially being placed on the IR this week, and Paul's 9 targets last week, I think we can safely slide Paul in for ASJ's target share. But what is that really worth? Seferian-Jenkins was drawing about 4-5 targets per game, like most bad fantasy tight ends. Paul got 9 last week, but Bortles threw the ball 61 times when he had been averaging 37.5 attempts per game. If you prorate ASJ's attempts to a 61 attempt game, he would have an 8.2 target expectation. I think something like 6 targets is good for Paul, making him a fine pure punt tight end on DK particularly.
Austin Hooper FD 5600 DK 3500
Proj Points FD - 8.71 DK - 10.42
Here's a hot tight end that I don't know at all what to make of. Hooper has shown flashes in the past, but has been mostly absent from the Falcons offense this season. Then, last week, he shows up with 9 receptions on 12 targets for 77 yards. In a game with the highest total on the slate we should be over the moon, right? I'm not so sure. First of all, basically nothing changed about this Falcons team that should have given Hooper more opportunity. He played 55 snaps - his second fewest on the season. Sanu, Ridley, and Jones were all healthy. It sure looks like Ryan just saw something that the Steelers were giving him, and took it. Hooper's performance may have awakened the Falcons to the possibility that he can be a strong offensive contributor, but as of right now I think people are going to be overly bullish on him based on one big week.
Ryan Griffin FD 4500 DK 2500
Proj Points FD - 2.49 DK - 3.05
Ryan Griffin shocked the world (okay, maybe he just shocked me) by being the 2nd most targeted receiver on Houston last week, tripling up on Will Fuller's targets and out-targeting fantasy sleeper darling Keke Coutee as well. Nine targets is no joke for a a literal minimum price receiver, but can we count on it going forward? Like Hooper, Griffin was basically non-existent in the passing game until last week, and nothing really changed for Houston either. Griffin has also been limited in practice, and while the price tag is tempting, I don't think I'm sticking my neck out here.
Trey Burton FD 5800 DK 4500
Proj Points FD - 7.45 DK - 8.8
Just a quick note on Burton, since I've seen him ranked as high as 2nd among tight ends on the main slate in terms of absolute projection this week. I think it's absolutely crazy. Yes, he had a nice week by any measure last week, going for 86 yards and a touchdown at a cheap price point. But I mean, the guy was targeted 4 times! He caught 2 balls! And this in a game where Trubisky was on pace to set world records in the first half. I have Burton squarely in the same group as the above guys, but at a much higher price point. It's a full pass for me in all formats.