VALUES N’ SHOTS
PART 4: TIGHT ENDS
“VALUES N’ SHOTS” is about evaluating current ADP and finding value in players relevant to where they are being drafted.
- Positional “VALUES” is in reference to solid players, generally veterans, with relatively stable floors who offer value at their current ADP. Most of these guys are weekly starters or flex plays but are being drafted later than other players who they could or should very easily outperform.
- Positional “SHOTS” is exactly what it sounds like, guys you take a shot on. These are guys who generally have low floors for various reasons (i.e. – they are unproven, have an unclear role, buried on the depth chart, etc.). However, these guys offer high ceilings relative to ADP and/or they have the potential to break out and can be game-changers (e.g. Allen Robinson last season).
*ADPs are presented as an average range from FPC, FF Calculator and MFL.
TIGHT END VALUES:
Jordan Reed: Current ADP: 36-41
Reed is a guy that comes with injury risk, there’s no denying that. In his 3 years as a pro, Reed has played in 34 of a possible 48 games, meaning he has missed about 30% of his starts. Over those same 3 years though, Rob Gronkowski has only managed 37 of 48 regular season games, missing about 23% of his starts and Gronk went through a 3 year period where he played in 33 of 48 games in 2012-2014.
When Reed plays, he is a beast. Last year, in 14 games Reed posted a stat line of: 87/952/11, finishing 2nd overall at TE in PPR formats (only 11 points behind Gronk, but in 1 less game) while leading all TEs, including Gronk, in ppg. Reed finished 9th overall in ppg among non-QB positions last year. When on the field, he may be the best fantasy TE in the game right now, though most would argue he is a close 2nd, trailing only Gronk. Regardless, Reed is a TE that will produce as a top 10 WR or better when healthy and if you have a plan to cover his injury risk, he could offer notable value at his current 4th round price tag.
Delanie Walker: Current ADP: 61-71
Walker has been rock solid over the past 2 seasons in TEN, and while the Titans have shifted towards more of a running offense, they are also improving on the offensive line and at QB. Dorial Green-Beckham was recently traded to the Eagles and that leaves 1st year Titan Rishard Matthews, incumbent starter Kendall Wright and rookie Tajae Sharpe as the other viable receiving options for the Titans in 2016. Not a WR group that demands significant targets, in other words.
Walker was also the go-to guy for Mariota last season and scored double digit fantasy points in every game but 2 in PPR formats. He finished the season strong, scoring over 20 fantasy points in 3 of his last 5 games. Walker should continue to be the security blanket for Mariota and won’t likely see much change in production this season. Walker’s numbers in PPR formats have him scoring about what a low-end WR1 scores. With a 6th round price tag, Walker offers value at the TE position for those who miss early on guys like Gronk, Reed and perhaps Eifert.
Travis Kelce: Current ADP: 62-69
Kelce has been somewhat disappointing career-to-date from the perspective that he is a top 3 talent at the TE position but isn’t being utilized fully in KC. While he is producing as a solid TE1, the Chiefs have been content to game-plan around Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin. Kelce possesses the physical attributes to be a beast though, and we’ve seen that show up at times. One example – last year’s season opener when Charles struggled to get anything going on the ground vs. the Texans. Kelce had 52 yards receiving and 2 TDs in the first quarter alone, finishing the game with a 6/106/2 line.
Unfortunately, that was the biggest game of the year for Kelce and he really wasn’t game-planned for too much in 2015. Signing a new contract worth over $40M says the Chiefs have big plans for Kelce, and should they ever unleash the beast, we could be looking at the next Gronk. At the very least, he is a solid TE1 who will catch 70+ passes for 800+ yards without breaking a sweat, and with J Charles turning 30, Kelce should start to benefit a bit more and the sky is the limit where he is concerned. Kelce’s current ADP is a little bit low I would say. If/when Reid decides to game-plan for him on a weekly basis, Kelce will pay big dividends. If you are looking for a high-end TE, draft Kelce with confidence at his current 6th round cost and keep in mind, he has the ability to blow up at any time. One thing I feel the need to mention – KC enters the 2016 season with the 4th most difficult SOS vs. WRs, and the EASIEST SOS vs. TEs. This could be Kelce’s year.
Zach Ertz: Current ADP: 98-107
Ertz is a TE much like Kelce who has been on the verge of a breakout for a couple of seasons now, but just hasn’t been utilized the way he should. Ertz ended the 2015 season on a tear (much like he did in 2014) finishing the final quarter of the season (weeks 14-17) 2nd only to Antonio Brown in the NFL in receptions (35), 3rd only to Julio Jones and Antonio Brown in receiving yards (450)…but only 1 TD. Ertz has not been used near the goal line or in the red-zone the way he could be, catching only 2 TDs last season and 3 the season before.
New coach, new system, improved Zach Ertz = possible career year in 2016. 853 yards was 7th best among TEs last season, but I expect Ertz to at least match that and probably improve on it a bit…same goes for his catch total. The lack of TDs is the only thing that has kept Ertz out of the top 5 at TE, and I fully expect him to take a leap where TDs are concerned this year, at least doubling his career high. With a 10th round price tag, Ertz offers tremendous value from a player who has a legitimate chance to finish as a top 5 TE this season.
Jason Witten: Current ADP: 144-152
Jason Witten should be a perennial name when anyone mentions TE and Value in the same sentence. Year in and year out, Witten puts up numbers and NEVER misses games (missed 1 in his career back in 2003). The last time Witten had less than 64 receptions OR less than 700 yards was 2003 as a rookie. He doesn’t usually put up big TD numbers, but you can count on him for 5-6+.
With Romo back and healthy, and Witten solid as a rock, you can count on a floor of 70-ish catches, 800+ yards, and 5 TDs or so. Witten finishes top 10 EVERY YEAR in PPR formats, and there is no reason to think he won’t do it again in 2016. With a 13th round (and later) price tag, Witten defines value and is a player I would NOT bet against finishing as a top 10 PPR TE.
TIGHT END SHOTS:
Dwayne Allen: Current ADP: 126-135
Allen has had somewhat of a polarizing start to his career. He played well as a rookie, staying on the field for an impressive 77% of the Colts offensive snaps that year (twice as many as former teammate Colby Fleener), and as TEs go, he put up strong numbers for a rookie – 45/521/3. He kicked off his sophomore season with a bang, catching Luck’s 1st TD toss of the 2013 season…a 20 yard strike down the seam. Immediately thereafter, Allen was riddled with injuries, missing the remaining 15 games of the 2013 season and struggling to find the field in 2014. With last year being a lost season for the Indy offense, Allen was almost non-existent and was asked to stay in and block while Fleener played the receiving TE role.
Now, with Fleener in New Orleans and the Colts returning to health on offense, Allen will finally have his chance to realize the potential many saw in him as a rookie. Fleener is leaving behind over 100 receptions, almost 1,300 yards and 11 TDs from the past 2 seasons. Allen will be the featured TE in this pass heavy offense. Even though he will still be asked to block, Allen should be very involved in the passing game and I would be shocked if he does not have a career year in 2016. Allen should produce as low TE1 or high TE2 with a good chance to finish in the 7-10 range. With a current 11th or 12th round ADP, Allen offers enough upside to take a shot on. Allen could also be in the “Values” portion of this write-up. He has proven enough to the Colt franchise that they allowed Fleener to walk and signed Allen to a $30M contract in the offseason. D Allen is almost certainly going to outplay his ADP in 2016.
Eric Ebron: Current ADP: 129-148
The #10 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ebron is perhaps the top TE prospect to be drafted since Vernon Davis was taken 6th overall in 2006. Much like Davis, Ebron has had a slow start to his career, which is actually pretty typical for tight ends. Ebron did improve in the 2nd half of the season last year under Jim Bob Cooter, posting his 2 best games in weeks 15 and 17 and managing to finish the season with a respectable 537 yards and 5 TDs.
2016 should be the season we see Ebron take a jump. Entering his 3rd year as a pro on a team that lost their top pass catcher, Ebron offers the size and speed to create mismatches which the Lions should try to exploit, particularly in the red-zone. If Ebron can get his drops under control and stay healthy, he should be given every opportunity to become a major contributor in the Lions passing game this season. I’m not going to lie, Ebron is risky compared to a lot of these TEs, but with a sky high ceiling in a strong passing offense, Ebron has the potential to be a game-changer. He is certainly worth taking a shot on at his current 11th/12th round price tag.
Clive Walford: Current ADP: 152-169
Coming off the bench early in the year and playing in only 40% of Oakland’s offensive snaps as a rookie, Walford had a hard time getting involved in the Raiders passing game last season. It took 8 weeks before Walford saw more than 2 targets in a game. Still, he had a few brief moments when he flashed and looks to have all of the tools necessary to play TE at a high level in the NFL.
The word out of Oakland is that they really like Walford and envision him as a big part of what they do on offense. It’s only preseason, but Walford did score on a 19 yard reception for Oakland’s first TD of 2016. Walford should see the majority of snaps at TE for the Raiders this season and could very easily develop into the #3 option in an ascending passing game led by Derek Carr. With a late 13th to 14th round ADP, Walford is definitely worth taking a shot on as your #2 TE and is a player who could quickly develop into a #1 TE or weekly flex play.