Tyler Eifert is undervalued right now.
As the biggest draft weekend of the year approaches, Tyler Eifert‘s price has remained stagnant.
He’s TE7, 75th overall in My Fantasy League’s MFL10 ADP over the last two weeks, and TE10, 99th overall in ESPN’s current ADP. That is too cheap compared to the other TEs in the top ten not named Rob Gronkowski or Jordan Reed, and it’s too cheap overall compared to running back and wide receiver.
|Eifert 2017 ADP||TE8 - TE9|
|2016 TE8 - TE9||170.6 - 170.9|
|2012 - 2016 TE8 - TE9 Avg||173.0 - 178.9|
|Sim Scores||136.0 - 208.0|
TYLER EIFERT IS UNDERPRICED COMPARED TO THE OTHER TIGHT ENDS IN ADP TOP TEN
TEs typically peak from 25 through 27 years old, and Eifert just completed his age 25 and 26 seasons.
Here’s how he compares to the other seven TEs in the top ten ADP, who aren’t Gronkowski or Reed, in their age 25 and 26 seasons:
Eifert is fourth in targets, receptions, and yards per game, third in fantasy points per game, and scored the most touchdowns per game, by far.
This isn’t about dynasty, however (even though he’s also undervalued there, too), this is about just this season.
If instead of breaking it out by age, we use just the last two seasons for everyone, this is how he compares:
This is obviously not as kind. Eifert is seventh in targets per game, eighth in catches, and sixth in yards per game. He is still first, however, in TDs, by a country mile, more than double anyone else on the list. He is also second in fantasy points per game, behind only Delanie Walker.
TOUCHDOWNS, TD RATE, FANTASY POINTS PER GAME, AND PREDICTIVE STATS
This is significant because per T.J. Hernandez at 4for4, fantasy points per game is the most predictive stat for TEs year-over-year.
Moreover, TDs are more predictive for TEs than they are for WRs, and TD rate is twice as predictive.
Eifert’s 18 receiving TDs are the fourth most in the league over the last two seasons, despite missing 11 games. The only players with more are Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Doug Baldwin, and Allen Robinson. Other than Reed, no other TE has more than 14 TDs in the last two seasons combined.
In terms of TD rate, Eifert’s is an astonishing 14.8 percent over the last two seasons. No one else with at least ten TDs has a TD Rate above ten percent; even if it’s not terribly highly correlated, that’s an astonishing difference.
Matt Wispe talked about Eifert’s rock solid rate at scoring, particularly in the red zone, in July:
His per game usage indicates that Eifert is either Andy Dalton’s first or second read when the team is close to the end zone. And while it’s unlikely that he receives over 40 percent of the season’s red zone targets, projecting him to receive 30 percent appears to be more than reasonable. Paired with his 58 percent career catch rate and 50 percent TD rate within the red zone, projecting Eifert for 8-10 TDs appears to be reasonable. So, even if you label Eifert as a purely touchdown-dependent player, he’s among the safest bets at TE to score consistently.
- Eifert is also not dealing with the influx of competition that Walker is, (Eric Decker, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith).
- The same can be said for Zach Ertz now competing with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
- In a stretch, the same could be said for Kyle Rudolph and Greg Olsen, as the two leading WRs on both their teams now have the experience and age where they should be becoming more and more productive.
- Martellus Bennett is now in an unfamiliar offense, which produces tons of receiving scoring, but also has some of the most talented receiving scorers in the league.
- Both Olsen and Travis Kelce are on teams that were bottom-eight in pass attempts last season, and Kelce may see his QB change at some point this year.
- Eifert is also not in Jimmy Graham‘s situation, as the Seahawks have had two consecutive years of unfortunate circumstances surrounding their RBs, and in normal conditions would probably love to get back to being extremely run-heavy.
Ertz is the same age as Eifert, meaning they are in the meatiest part of the TE age curve and should be expected to be peaking in their careers. Kelce and Rudolph are only a year older, and shouldn’t have age held against them, either.
Graham, Olsen, Bennett, and especially Walker, who just turned 33, however, are now on the wrong side of the age trend line.
Here’s what the TEs from that group who have already played their age 27 season did that year:
Other than Walker, the other five were top-seven overall TE finishes, including TE1 seasons from Graham and Kelce. Other than Walker and Olsen, the other four were the best seasons any of them have had in their career.
Our Sim Scores reflect this, giving Eifert a higher ceiling as he enters this season than Rudolph or Bennett, and within two PPG of all the others. This is despite only eight games from Eifert last season, two of which were his first game back Week 7, and the last game when got injured Week 15. Eifert had one catch for nine yards in both contests. If those two weeks are removed, his ceiling goes ahead of Graham, Kelce, and Walker, and within 0.2 PPG of Olsen and Ertz.
There isn’t a really strong case for Eifert over Ertz if the two are priced similarly, which means Ertz would likely have fallen. Olsen, though, will likely not fall close to where they do in drafts, and the case against him at his price is multifaceted and extensive.
PEAKING CAREERS AND FATHER TIME
Two of Eifert’s seven closest comps in the Sim Scores are Tony Gonzalez’s age 26 and 27 seasons. From the ages of 24 through 26, the two have produced very similarly for fantasy purposes.
When Gonzalez was 27, he led all TEs in targets, catches, receiving yards, TDs, and scored 35 more fantasy points than the TE2. He also wouldn’t peak in his career for several more years.
If Eifert sustained his 13.8 PPG over the last two seasons for 16 games, the resulting 220.8 points would have been TE2 last year and TE6 in 2015. It also would’ve outscored RB11 last season (Jay Ajayi), and WR18 (Tyrell Williams).
If you can use a tight end in the flex, Eifert is undervalued in two important ways.
First, he becomes more valuable with the ability to start more than one TE because if he doesn’t get injured, you can still use another TE. This doesn’t hamstring your draft strategy if another falls to you at a good value, you hit on one late, or, you already own Gronkowski or Reed, and Eifert is still available much later.
In relation to other positions, the ability to flex him captures his upside, as he is undervalued compared to RB and WR at the same overall price.
The case for Eifert to be the overall TE3 is as strong as it is for anyone else not named Gronkowski or Reed, and he is incorrectly priced cheaper than several of them.