With draft day rapidly approaching fantasy players need to be paying extra attention on when to target certain players. This article will aide you in successfully navigating the mine-field that is the tight end position.
OVERVALUED (ADP’s courtesy of www.fantasypros.com)
Martellus Bennett (ADP: 59)
If I was drafting a team based on nicknames, “The Black Unicorn” would be a slam-dunk first round pick. I can’t take anything away from the terrific 2014 season that Bennett had. His position leading 90 receptions made him a PPR darling. His 900+ yards and six touchdowns certainly didn’t hurt either. With the departure of Marc Trestman, I expect the Bears offense to take on a whole new look. Playing in a more balanced offense will stunt Bennett’s fantasy growth. Don’t overpay for last years production, and spending a late-fourth round pick would be doing just that.
Jason Witten (ADP: 76)
Witten does deserve credit. I find it amazing that he has not missed a game for 11 straight seasons. Additionally, he has been extremely productive over that span. He has caught at least 60 passes and has reached 700 yards in each of those seasons. It is quite remarkable how efficient and dependable he has been over the years.
Now for the reality as it pertains to fantasy. Whaaaat.
I think people are forgetting just how bad Jason Witten was the first seven games of the 2014 season. Let me remind you.
Week 1: 2/14/0
Week 2: 4/32/0
Week 3: 4/49/0
Week 4: 5/61/0
Week 5: 4/59/0
Week 6: 2/24/1
Week 7: 2/27/0
When you add it all up it comes out to 266 yards and one touchdown. Those stats over a seven game stretch had many owners pressing the “drop” button.
Witten’s targets, receptions, and yardage have all decreased in each of the past two seasons. Last season, he failed to reach 35 yards receiving in half of his games. Witten’s role has changed on this team. He will still be there to make the clutch third-down catch to move the chains, but the days of him being a high production fantasy tight end are in the rear-view mirror. If I am spending a mid-6th round pick on a tight end, I need a higher ceiling than what Witten can offer.
Dwayne Allen (ADP: 112)
I don’t pay for touchdowns. They are a fluky stat to project when it comes to pass catchers. In 2014, Allen caught one touchdown per every 3.6 receptions. Simply put, that is not sustainable. While some tight ends can make up for the lack of touchdowns by producing solid yardage, Allen is not one of them. In his 23 career games, Allen has surpassed 50 yards receiving just seven times. His inconsistency makes him hard to trust in head-to-head formats. Scoring < 1 fantasy point in 31% of his games last season put owners at a severe disadvantage.
Playing in the high-octane offense that everyone expects the Colts to have should provide him with plenty of red zone opportunities. The red zone is where he earns his place at the dinner-table in the fantasy world. However, with the number of mouths to feed in that offense, there won’t be enough to eat for everyone. I expect Allen to leave fantasy owners hungry far too often to be selected in the first 10 rounds.
Owen Daniels (ADP: 117)
The upside that Daniels has playing with Manning makes him well worth his 9th round ADP. Even with average quarterback play throughout his career, Daniels has still managed to produce low-end TE1 numbers. In the five seasons that Daniels has played 15+ games he has posted yardage totals of 768, 862, 677, 716, and 527 yards last season in Baltimore. Aside from injuries, his touchdown totals have been keeping him from reaching the top-tier tight end status. Peyton Manning might be just what the doctor ordered to remedy Daniels allergic reaction to the end zone. Over Manning’s last seven seasons he has averaged just south of nine touchdown passes per year to the primary tight end, including four seasons of double-digit results. A season of 800 yards and 8 touchdowns is not too hard to envision for Daniels, making him a draft-day steal in the 9th round.
Delanie Walker (ADP: 118)
Most rankings have Walker forecasted to finish outside of the top 10 tight ends. Despite playing in just 14 full games he finished ninth at the position accumulating a line of 63/890/4. I am trying to figure out why everyone expects a regression from Walker this season. The personnel that Walker will be working with this year will look different than last season, but I don’t necessarily view that as a bad thing. At the quarterback position, Marcus Mariotta should prove to be a substantial upgrade when compared to the quarterbacks that Walker was catching passes from in 2014. The competition for targets could be tougher with the addition of Hakeem Nicks, Harry Douglas, and the drafting of Dorial Green-Beckham. On the flip side, if one of those receivers can prove to be a legitimate threat it could create some advantageous match-ups for Walker. Hopefully owners continue to dodge Walker on draft day. I will happily scoop him up at his current ADP.
Josh Hill / Benjamin Watson (ADP: 174 / 300)
There is fantasy gold to be mined in the bayou. Between Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills 209 targets walked out the door. Someone is going to get those targets, yards, and touchdowns. Brandin Cooks has been impressive this preseason and should see a major uptick in his production. Even so, there will be enough balls in the air for Hill or Watson to have a fantasy impact.
Don’t get me wrong this is more than likely a lottery ticket situation. With that said, anytime I can get a piece of an offense that led the league in yards per game last season with a quarterback who is a lock to throw 30+ touchdowns at a dirt-cheap price, then that is a lottery ticket I don’t mind purchasing.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday August 30th from 11-1pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Sports Show sponsored by the Sports PaloozaRadio Network. Call in live at 646-915-8596. This week we will discuss the offenses of the Giants, Saints, Chargers, Raiders, and Jets. Defensively we will discuss the Rams, Vikings, Texans, Dolphins, and Bills. If it’s fantasy football relevant we will discuss it.