When we talk about tight ends, upside doesn’t often come to mind. A large part of their value is dependent upon reaching the end zone but they don’t have upside in the way a wide receiver has. Seeing a tight end go for 100-plus yards just isn’t something that will happen often unless you are dealing in the truly elite territory. Fifty yards and a touchdown is a perfectly reasonable expectation from your tight end, and that means your budget should be allocated accordingly. Just make sure you are paying for the production you are getting though.
This doesn’t mean you should never look towards the higher end options if the situation dictates or the salary cap allows, but tread carefully here. There is a fine line to walk between risk and reward as you can’t afford taking a zero from a lineup spot. At the same time, you don’t want to spend any more than necessary at the risk of other positions.
For those who have yet to subscribe, what are you waiting for? Until then you will get one free pick to whet your appetite. After all that talk about not spending up at the position let’s take a 180 degree turn and do just that. It’s truly harder to find a tight end in a better position than George Kittle($7,200 DK, $8,000 FD) is this week despite his cost. Last season to say that Arizona struggled to defend the tight end position would be an understatement and an even bigger understatement would be to say that there are targets available on San Francisco’s offense this week. They are hurting at the receiver position and Kittle, who is coming off two straight 1,000 yard receiving yards, will be the beneficiary. He appears to be completely healthy entering the season after catching 85 of his 105 targets last season and the 49ers will look to him early and often this week.
Behind the paywall, we will continue to take a closer look at some more tight ends who deserve our attention this week along with a few from whom we should keep our distance. And not all will break the bank either which will leave plenty of room for help at other positions. So, keep on going and take a look at what we have to offer.
It doesn’t get much cheaper than it does with Chris Herndon ($3,300 DK, $4,700 FD) this week, but it is with good reason. Between injuries and suspension last season, Herndon caught just one pass for seven yards when he should have been building on a solid rookie season that saw him with 502 yards and four touchdowns on 39 receptions. That all appears to be behind him and Herndon is healthy entering the 2020 season and primed to be a large part of the Jets’ offense. Herndon has built chemistry with Sam Darnold and with New York’s wide receiver corps underwhelming prior to Denzel Mims’ injury, the opportunity will clearly be there this week. We just must go back two seasons for when we last saw Herndon in true game action, but he is an athletic and complete tight end. Additionally the fact that the Jets are seven-point underdogs does work in Herndon’s favor as Darnold will need to throw to someone to attempt a comeback.
Another tight end that should benefit from a light wide receiver corps is Mike Gesicki ($4,500 DK, $5,400 FD) with the Dolphins. Miami’s wide receiver corps is already light to begin with and DeVante Parker nursing a hamstring injury will only lead to more targets for Gesicki. Tight ends often take sizable steps forward in the second year of their career, and that is what the athletic Gesicki is primed to do. With 89 targets last season this isn’t something is coming out of nowhere as he caught 51 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. A large part of that production came in the last five weeks of the season as Gesicki caught 20 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns while being targeted in the red zone eight times.
Let’s stick with the theme of looking for targets with our tight ends and go a little higher up the salary list to Zach Ertz ($5,800 DK, $6,700 FD). Philadelphia is hurting at the wide receiver position this week and we know that Ertz is a proven member of the Eagles’ offense and chemistry with Carson Wentz won’t be a problem. There won’t be much in the way of opposition from Washington’s weak defense as Ertz looks to build on his success from last season of 88 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns. If you are looking for a proven entity and don’t have the salary cap space for Kittle, then Ertz is the reasonable next step.
This may prove out to be no more than a hunch gone wrong, but I’m a little cautious of Darren Waller ($5,900 DK, $6,900 FD) both for this week and this season. With 90 receptions for 1,148 yards last season Waller clearly emerged as a legitimate threat, but how will that translate to this season? The fact that Waller caught just three touchdown passes is concerning and the addition of Jason Witten could even further diminish his touchdown potential. The Raiders aren’t exactly flush with other receiving targets, but that also means opposing defenses could focus on Waller as his price makes me a little skeptical.
Over the past two seasons it seemed that Baltimore collected young tight ends. This was to the detriment of Hayden Hurst ($4,300 DK, $5,300 FD) as he failed to gain much momentum in his time with the Ravens catching just 30 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns last season. Hurst now calls Atlanta home as he replaces Austin Hooper but I think it’s a mistake to expect him step right into his place production wise. While he is talented and the Falcons are a high scoring team, we have yet to see Hurst do it at the NFL level on a consistent basis. This week I’m not willing to pay to find out.
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