As it relates to the tight ends, the number one question is whether or not to pay up for a premium player at the position, or choose the low-risk, value play. The answer to that question will differ depending on the contest you enter; however, it is mostly mid-priced players who wound up on my tight ends to avoid in week one.
Greg Olsen: $6,300
Sadly, one of the most underrated and consistent fantasy producers the last few years leads the tight ends to avoid in week one. Olsen is returning from a leg injury, and by all accounts, will be 100 percent healthy. However, there are some concerns with Olsen. The Panthers will be playing in a new offensive system under Norv Turner. So, let’s examine Kyle Rudolph’s production under Turner during his tenure with the Vikings.
While the numbers are small, they aren’t bad in comparison to other tight ends, but they aren’t a great indication of what we can project for Olsen. There are other variables to consider as well. We have no idea how quarterback Cam Newton is going to assimilate into this offense. It’s reasonable to expect Olsen to assume nice target share because of his rapport with Newton; however, there are more mouths to feed in this passing offense than ever.
Olsen will be competing for catches with Devin Funchess, the incumbent target leader from last season, Christian McCaffrey, one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL, D.J. Moore, their 2018 first-round pick, and 2017 second-round pick, Curtis Samuel. He’ll be competing for touchdowns with all those players including Torrey Smith, who’s contending for the Ted Ginn Jr. role, C.J. Anderson, who might shoulder some goal-line work, and Cam Newton, who’s undoubtedly their best short yardage ball carrier.
While he’s a good option in season-long, his DFS playability is bad considering he’s the third most expensive tight end on the main slate. If his price decreases in the coming weeks, that will change my outlook.
Kyle Rudolph: $5,900
This is just a coincidence that I don’t like Kyle Rudolph while using him in my previous case against Greg Olsen. I actually like Rudolph’s outlook for the season; however, there are just too many mouths to feed in this offense to justify Rudolph as the sixth most expensive tight end. The question is, can an offense hamstrung by Mike Zimmer’s desire to control a game and minimize risk be enough to sustain Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and finally Kyle Rudolph? I don’t think so.
In addition to the competition for touches, the projected gameflow does not bode well for Rudolph. The Vikings are a six-point favorite at home according to Odds Shark. Meaning, the Vikings likely won’t be playing from behind, and thus, will not lead to additional passing targets for Rudolph. Without a gameflow that will force the Vikings to throw, there simply isn’t enough volume. Last season, Rudolph only produced double-digit points six times, and had less than seven targets 10 times. Until Rudolph’s price decreases to the below $5,500 or less, he’ll likely be left off my cash game and GPP lineups.
George Kittle: $5,300
Once again, I swear it’s just a coincidence that the tight ends to avoid in week one all have a connection to the Minnesota Vikings. George Kittle’s placement on this list is completely based on his individual matchup. Kittle will face Harrison Smith on the majority of his routes, and that’s not good for Kittle’s production. Smith has been one of the league’s best safeties and is coming off his best year yet. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was the highest graded safety when it came to defending the run and the pass in 2018. Kittle’s price reflects this poor matchup, but there are tight ends in this price range with similarly projected gameflow and better matchups like Jack Doyle and David Njoku.
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