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The Guy Behind the Guy: RotoViz’s Favorite Backup TEs in 2019

In the third and final installment of our series looking at players we think could emerge as stars if things break right for them, we come to the tight end spot. TE is, as we know in fantasy terms, something between a minefield and cesspit. But that doesn’t make the players any less important. While several teams are beginning to realize the importance of deploying multiple TEs at the same time, it is primarily still a onesie position in fantasy terms.

Here are a few players who, while they may see some playing time in 2019, they could break out in a huge way if the “starter” were to be lost.

Mo Alie-Cox – Devin McIntyre

When the fantasy community fixates on a positional battle between two players, you can frequently find value by targeting the forgotten third player. In Indianapolis, we have a potent offense that heavily utilizes the tight end position. But there is uncertainty on the split between Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle. Some analysts like Mike Clay are already projecting Doyle to receive the most targets. Don’t get blinders for just these two tight ends.

If either player gets hurt, or Doyle simply struggles in his return from two offseason surgeries (for his lacerated kidney and hip injury), there should be ample opportunity for third-year TE Mo Alie-Cox. He is already impressing this spring.1 Blair Andrews has shown that TEs are most likely to break out in either year 2 or year 3. Alie-Cox is basically in year 2.5, after getting hurt his rookie season.

Multiple Patriots TEs are being stashed right now, despite the entire TE group (including Rob Gronkowski) combining for just 54 receptions last year. Meanwhile, Colts TEs racked up 108 catches–third-most in the NFL.

The No. 3 TE in Indianapolis may very well be more valuable than the lead TE in New England. Alie-Cox is an exclusive rights free agent next year. Both Ebron and Doyle are free agents. The Colts need to figure out who they are building around next season. They have an extra incentive to get Alie-Cox involved.

Dallas Goedert – Neil Dutton

Dallas Goedert made a bit of noise as a rookie in 2018. He played more than 54.7% of the Eagles snaps, whilst reeling in 33 of his 42 targets for 334 yards and four touchdowns. His catch rate of 78.6% was the third-best among all TEs. Not bad for a rookie.

People have been falling over themselves to talk up the play of Goedert this offseason. He was the star of Eagles OTAs, his development has been phenomenal, while he looks set to take a second-year leap in 2019.

The Eagles were among the league leaders in terms of how often they lined up in 12 personnel last season. There are reports that this could increase in the coming season. However, Goedert still faces the not insignificant barrier of Zach Ertz in the lineup.

Ertz set an NFL record for single receptions by a TE in 2018 with 116. His 1163 receiving yards meant he had gone over 800 yards in each of the last four seasons. He has long enjoyed the confidence of Carson Wentz. While the Eagles will hope he doesn’t approach 116 receptions again, he should still be among the Eagles leaders in most receiving categories.

But…

Last season marked the first time since 2014 that Ertz had appeared in all 16 games. In the past, the TE has continued to be productive in his absence. In 2016 and 2017, in four games in which Ertz sat out, Trey Burton averaged 14 PPR points per game.

Goedert is in a completely different league than Burton in terms of class. Given the form he showed as a rookie any chances he is given, whether Ertz is in the team or not, he will take. But for now, we must wait.

Image Credit: John Jones/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Dallas Goedert.

  1. “Watching him grow is like watching your son become something special,” Ebron says. “He’s gonna play such a huge role this year.”  (back)

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