There is no more volatile position in the world of fantasy sport than that of the tight end. While you may feel obligated to keep trotting out the same guy week after week, much like you do with car insurance renewals, your loyalty is actually hampering you. Go out into the world, and see what else you can find!
With this in mind, I will present three TEs every week that you may want to consider plugging into your lineup for that week ahead. You can be safe in the knowledge that they a) are widely available and b) will probably not mind too much if you toss them aside after you’ve had your fun.
Where possible, the players I look at will be available in at least 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues. This may change on occasion, but not by much. If you come here, expecting me to wax lyrical about Travis Kelce and his chances of smashing in a given week this season, you will be disappointed.
To help me sell the reader on the prospects of a potential streamer, I will make use of the great suite of apps we have on offer here at RotoViz. I expect The Game Splits App will be vital in showing how a TE has performed in previous situations. While The RotoViz Screener will no doubt provide its usual wealth of information. And the newly updated SoS Streaming App should prove invaluable.
Let’s see what the stream has for us this week, and by golly, it looks like we’ll be going deep into it.
Jack Doyle vs. Los Angeles Chargers (available in 64.3% of ESPN leagues)
Andrew Luck’s retirement has propelled Jacoby Brissett into the starting role for the Indianapolis Colts. The team is so certain that he is up to the task of replacing Luck that they’ve already locked him up for the next two seasons. His first onfield examination will come against the Chargers in Week 1. This appears a good spot for him to rekindle his relationship with Jack Doyle.
Doyle was Brissett’s favorite target back in 2017. This despite the linkup averaging a fairly moderate AYA for Brissett. This chemistry will stand Doyle in good stead against the Chargers, even with the presence of other weapons like T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, and Devin Funchess.
Last season, opposing teams against the Chargers targeted their TEs at a 22% rate. This is tied for third highest in the NFL as per Sharp Football. Granted, the Chargers only allowed 6.2 yards per reception to the position (3rd lowest). But the absence of Derwin James should make the quadrants of the field where Doyle likes to operate somewhat friendlier than normal. Doyle has never been one to amass huge yardage totals. But he should see enough work to keep him fantasy relevant this week.
Darren Waller vs. Denver Broncos (81%)
There’s a new man at the helm of the Broncos defense this season. Vic Fangio has replaced Vance Joseph as the big cheese in Mile High. Broncos fans will no doubt hope that Fangio can help tighten their team up against the TE. This is a position that has enjoyed some success against the Broncos in recent years.
In the last four seasons, the Broncos have allowed the 7th, 6th, 12th, and 8th most receptions to TEs. In 2018, the Broncos opponents targeted their TEs at the same rate as that seen by the Chargers. Namely, 22%. Unlike the Chargers, the Broncos allowed ample yards once the ball was caught. TEs averaged 9.2 yards per reception against the Broncos.
Darren Waller is a player who has generated quite a bit of buzz during this offseason, impressing head coach Jon Gruden at nearly every opportunity. He’s certainly come a long way since his time as a little-used field stretcher at Georgia Tech.
The Raiders have made moves at the wide receiver spot this offseason, trading for Antonio Brown (inheriting the circus that his presence brings), signing Tyrell Williams in free agency and drafting Hunter Renfrow. But the Broncos were a fair less generous proposition for WRs in 2018.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was not among the league leaders in letting it fly last season (though he was generally more efficient when throwing to deep parts of the field).
He may find the comforting presence of Waller close to the line of scrimmage an agreeable prospect, at least compared to hanging in the pocket waiting for his WRs to get open. Waller’s size and athleticism may help improves his outcomes close to the line of scrimmage as well.
Noah Fant vs. Oakland Raiders (89.5%)
Rookie TEs are very rarely productive in the NFL, and as a result, are very rarely fantasy relevant. However, Noah Fant has a chance to be an exception to this rule, given his situation and skills. This could start as early as Week 1 against the Raiders.
The Raiders, like the Broncos and Chargers, saw TEs targeted against them at a 22% rate last season. These players were then able to pretty much have their way with the Raiders “defense.” TEs averaged 10.2 yards per reception against them in 2018. Only four teams allowed more receiving yards to the TE position than the Raiders, who gave up 1,060. They present the third best TE matchup in Week 1:
For those in need of a refresher, Fant is an athletic freak. He damn near broke the NFL scouting combine this past spring with his measurables.
Fant would likely have been even more productive at Iowa if he hadn’t had to share duties with T.J. Hockenson. But he was still able to catch 78 balls for 1082 yards and 19 touchdowns in college.
So he’s productive and athletic. He’s also playing against a funnel defense that doesn’t seem able to slow down players at the position. This doesn’t automatically mean Fant can produce, does it? Well, no. But what if you throw in the fact that his QB just loves targeting the TE? Does that move the needle any?
From 2013 to 2017, the Ravens under Joe Flacco targeted their TEs 652 times. This is the sixth highest in the NFL. During his time as the undisputed starter in Baltimore, Flacco targeted eight TEs at least 50 times. His most productive relationship was with Todd Heap, at least in terms of AYA.
As good a player as Heap was, he was not in Fant’s class as an athlete. The Broncos WR position is in something of flux at present. With an appealing matchup in store, Fant could stake an early claim to becoming Flacco’s new binky.