Tight end premium scoring is one of the best elements of the FFPC. In many other formats, drafters can simply spend the single-digit rounds loading up at running back and wide receiver. The FFPC forces you to consider TE, and consider it early. Travis Kelce currently sits at 6.6 in FFPC drafts, five slots earlier than he’s going in Fanball. George Kittle and Zach Ertz are second-round selections. O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and Hunter Henry are all going a round before the fourth TE comes off the board in BestBall10s.
FFPC prices make landing an elite TE difficult. To grab Kelce, you have to pass on Le’Veon Bell, a running back who’s averaged 23-plus PPG three times, and DeAndre Hopkins, 2018’s No. 1 wide receiver. The cost isn’t quite as brutal for Kittle or Ertz, but you’ll have to give up Mike Evans, a player Kate Magdziuk likes to finish as this year’s WR1.
It’s almost impossible to pull the trigger on the second tier. Howard, Engram, and Henry all offer intriguing upside but also some red flags. To select them, you would have to pass on trendy RB options like David Montgomery and Sony Michel, as well as RotoViz priority picks like D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Tyler Boyd. For these young TEs, the breakout scenarios are priced in but the risks are not.
Navigating a Tricky Onesie Position
How should you attack TE in 2019? We debate this at length in Part 1 of our Best Ball Roundtable. The group weighed in on their tactics and individual player selections. FFPC Main Event and Bare Knuckles champion Monty Phan details the TEs he’s attacking in both formats.
* Monty finished as the overall regular season FFPC Main Event points champion in 2017 and has won his league title for four consecutive years. Jump into his 2019 FFPC Strategy Series to learn how to implement his tactics in your draft.
Some of the options we mentioned are still appealing. A few are losing their allure. Mike Gesicki is reportedly still struggling in camp. Vance McDonald is not, but the buy thesis for Pittsburgh’s TEs relies on all of those vacated targets. Unfortunately, the individual buzz for Donte Moncrief, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson has created a scenario where all three receivers are already overdrafted. Based on these camp performances, you need to be able to make a strong talent argument for McDonald to justify his crazy ADP.
To really answer this question, we should start with the work of John Lapinski, our TE guru. His TE Special Preview using the Roster Construction Explorer to break down historical FFPC results is a must read. He also got you on the right path in dynasty a season ago. Using the TE Projection Model, he encouraged you to buy Dallas Goedert, Chris Herndon, and Mark Andrews, while selling Hayden Hurst. If you followed his instructions, you’ve already made a large profit.
Andrews should be a key target in every draft, but Baltimore’s breakout candidate isn’t enough by himself. Who else should we prioritize in cobbling together the TE position?
2 Sleeper Options and a Bargain Option Who Is Literally Free
TE is the thinnest position in fantasy, making it difficult to wait and yet not eventually reach. Sure, a reach in Round 10 doesn’t have the same impact as a reach in Round 4, but we want to be able to take advantage of small values throughout our drafts. To do this, we need to find legitimate targets in all areas of a draft.
With a strong camp to follow his buzz-filled offseason, Darren Waller has jumped Gesicki. Reports suggest Antonio Brown will eventually return to camp, but his theatrics turn Waller into a high-floor option with even more upside than we may realize.
Whenever you have a disappointing rookie season followed by a rough training camp, you want to adjust your expectations and also the price you’re willing to pay. But when you get your price, this is also the perfect time to buy for players with strong original projections.
The Second-Year Tight End Breakout
Blair Andrews has done some fantastic work on TE breakouts for The Wrong Read.
Something interesting happens when you make adjustments for draft position. At both RB and WR, if you look only at top-100 picks, rookie breakouts become just as likely as (WR), or even more likely than (RB), Year 2 breakouts. At TE, however, the importance of Year 2 becomes even more exaggerated. TEs drafted in the top-100 picks in the NFL Draft break out — meaning they finish within in the top-12 TEs for the first time in their careers — at nearly a 25% rate in Year 2. That number is far higher than top-100 WR breakouts in any year, and about equal to the top-100 rookie RB breakout rate.
With Blair’s intel in hand, John’s TE insights on the 2018 class become even more relevant. We might even be tempted to consider Goedert despite Ertz’s presence and to stash Herndon with the suspension.
The Dollar Store Has One Very Big Argument In Its Favor
(It costs a dollar.)
Hayden Hurst does not perform well in the TE Model, but much of that is due to his non-traditional route as a former baseball player. Once we focus on experience instead of age and add in his draft position, the Box Score Scout spits out encouraging comps.
Eric Ebron and Austin Hooper broke out in 2018, while Josh Oliver is the super sleeper who actually finished No. 1 in the 2019 TE Model.
Given his first-round pedigree, the second-year breakout trends for top-100 picks, and his price in 2019 fantasy drafts, any positive news on Hurst’s progress would make him a last-round target in every draft.
The Baltimore Ravens official site loves what they’ve seen.
Hurst is back to top form physically and ready [for] a breakout sophomore season because of improvements on the mental side. “I feel a lot better than where I was at last year. My head was spinning a little bit last year, but everything is starting to slow down.” Hurst made two big plays in Thursday’s practice, coming down with a juggling sideline catch and then a long touchdown on a busted coverage. Both highlighted what Hurst can offer with his unique blend of size and speed.
The Washington Post agrees.
On Thursday morning, near the midpoint of a Baltimore Ravens training camp during which Mark Andrews has emerged as the team’s most dependable pass catcher, fellow tight end Hayden Hurst offered a reminder that he should not be overlooked. Late in practice, [he] scored on a roughly 70-yard catch-and-run from Lamar Jackson, the longest completion of camp… It was a vivid reminder of his potential.
Other training camp observers are seeing the same thing.
Hurst demonstrated capable blocking ability last year but didn’t make much of an impact as a receiver. Soft hands and route-running were his main calling cards coming out of South Carolina, though, and he reminded us this week of his pass-catching chops with several impressive receptions. All three tight ends can fill different roles and play in multiple spots in the offense, each play a significant role in Greg Roman’s system this season.
Everyone agrees that Andrews will be the focal point in the passing game, but they also believe there will be plenty left over for Hurst.
Lamar Jackson was solid in the first week of preseason games, connecting with Chris Moore and Willie Snead as part of two scoring drives to start the game. This is good news for all of the Ravens receiving options. But many of those receiving options are either young – Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin – or fringe NFL players like Moore and Snead. In a run-based offense with a young QB, this is extremely unlikely to be a Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez situation in Baltimore, but it’s not impossible that the TEs will lead the way in the passing game.
A Great Way to Use Your Last Round Pick
Hasan Rahim, Blair Andrews, Patrick Kerrane, and Peter Overzet drafted one of the most fun FFPC teams you’ll ever see and memorialized the festivities on a must-listen episode of The Fantasy Football Report. They left their draft with one of my other favorite TE sleepers, Gerald Everett, as their only Week 1 option at the position. Hasan pleads with them to consider Hurst in the final round.
It’s worth repeating. The only 2018 first-round pick at TE was not drafted in a TE-premium league at a position where early-round picks tend to break out in Year 2.
Hurst is not a priority target. But, he is a very good way to use your final pick.1 Last year, Tyler Boyd was my preferred option for the last pick in every draft. If Hurst can return even a fraction of that value, he’ll help you address this tricky position.