Tight End Roulette

Every Thursday, I turn on my favorite DFS podcast and begin selecting my lineup. I become fully engrossed in all the different combinations and match ups available to me. Nothing could be more fun, I think to myself. This feeling of happiness and hope quickly fades to black as I get to my least favorite position, Tight End. Seeing the eye-popping price of Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed makes me reel, as they could easily score less than 10 points. There’s no debate, Tight End has been the most volatile and frustrating position to select this season.

Paying Up

Conventional DFS wisdom says to avoid inconsistency at a position, pay for the most expensive players. It seems to work for the Running Back position, where you can build a lineup around David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliot, or LeSean McCoy. Why these players specifically? Because between these four players, only 10 times did one of these players score less than 15 points this season in any given game. Let me repeat, out of 44 total games played, only 10 times did any of these players score less than 15 points and LeSean McCoy alone accounts for four of those 10 instances. This is the kind of consistency a DFS player expects with such a large price tag. Sadly, the Tight End position hasn’t come close to this kind of consistency.

The four most expensive Tight Ends this season have been Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed and Delanie Walker. Among their 40 games played, 20 times one of these players failed to score 10 points. If the point threshold is increased to 15, that number rises to 26. This lack of production and availability, as only one of these four players hasn’t missed a game due to injury, is inexcusable given their price.

While they may not be consistent, these Tight Ends have the ability to produce big numbers. While the lows are low, the highs are high as each of these players has had at least one 20 point game. Reed leads the group with three games of at least 20 points.

Playing The Matchup

Given that nothing at the Tight End position is guaranteed, regardless of price, you decided to find the most favorable match ups for the position. According to Pro Football Reference, the five worst defenses against Tight Ends this season are: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Carolina, Atlanta and Detroit in terms of total points.

Earlier this year I highlighted Detroit’s inability to cover a Tight End previewing their first game vs. Minnesota. In that game Kyle Rudolph did score a touchdown, but failed to do much else. For DFS success, we wouldn’t roster a Wide Receiver whose upside is a touchdown with five catches for 60 yards, but we do for Tight Ends because the position has been so brutal this year.

Of the previously mentioned defenses, Cleveland and Carolina have given up nine touchdowns to Tight Ends this season. Then comes Detroit with eight touchdowns given up, and finally Cincinnati and Atlanta have both surrendered seven touchdowns to Tight Ends thus far. Many players have exploited these match ups; however, they are incredibly inconsistent from week to week. Thus, players keep the mid and lower-level Tight Ends out of their lineups.

eifert

Tyler Eifert looks to bounce back after only seeing two targets versus Philadelphia. (Courtesy of; Sporting News)

For example, Jason Witten had his best performance against Cleveland (23.4 points). But what has he done since? He’s failed to score at least 10 points in every single game, including a zero against Minnesota. On the other hand, Tyler Eifert only recorded 1.4 fantasy points in his first match up versus Cleveland. This was his first game back from injury. He also proceeded to score over 20 points the next week versus Washington, but, the fact remains, even the most reliable players won’t always take advantage of good match ups. This is the reality when it comes to Fantasy Football, but it’s incredibly frustrating and costly when you invest in a Tight End that checks all the boxes, and only scores three points.

Week 14 Tight Ends

So, I will be going through my normal DFS routine and I will still dread selecting two or three Tight Ends for my lineups. However, there are some promising options this week. Here are the five players at the Tight End position I like the most this week.

5. Greg Olsen ($6,400)

  • Olsen faces a bottom five pass defense this Sunday against the Chargers.
  • San Diego allowed Cameron Brate, a less talented player, to record six catches for 86 yards and one score.
  • Olsen’s struggles are related to his Quarterback whose continued lack of footwork causes passes to sail over the heads of his receivers, otherwise he’d be higher on this list.

4. C.J Fiedorowicz ($5,100)

  • It’s becoming clear that Fiedorowicz is the second option in this anemic passing attack, as he led the team with nine targets last week.
  • Since week 3, he’s seen at least seven targets in six of the last nine games, including his best game against Indianapolis, who he sees again this weekend.
  • Fiedorowicz’s price allows for the flexibility to pay up for players like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, who prove to be the backbone of DFS lineups this year.

3. Zach Ertz ($5,700)

Zach Ertz will continue to be targeted this week as the high scoring Redskins visit Philadelphia. (Courtesy of; Bleacher Report)

Zach Ertz will continue to produce this week to keep pace with the high scoring Redskins. (Courtesy of; Bleacher Report)

  • Ertz was targeted a ridiculous 15 times last week against the Bengals, a game in which they were playing from behind. It’s likely they’ll be in a similar situation as the Redskins come to town this Sunday.
  • Overall, it’s not a good or bad match up. Washington has been average against Tight Ends this season, allowing only five touchdowns.
  • Including last week, Ertz has been targeted a minimum of six times the last five weeks and has scored double digit fantasy points in three of the last five weeks.

2. Jimmy Graham ($6,600)

  • Graham proved to be a dangerous threat in the Red Zone this season, receiving two Red Zone targets last week and converting one into six points.
  • Graham has scored four times in his last five games and has seen five or more targets in four of those five games.
  • This game has the potential to be a shootout, as injuries in Seattle’s secondary will allow Aaron Rodgers and company to move the ball downfield.

1. Tyler Eifert ($6,700)

  • Eifert has a great match up this week versus the worst defense against the Tight End position, Cleveland.
  • Last week was only the second time all season Eifert saw less than five targets. After only recording two targets versus Cleveland, he had his best game of the season against Washington (20.7 points).
  • The AJ Green injury will prove to help Eifert down the stretch of this season, as there are more targets to go around. I fully expect Eifert to record at least six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.

 

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