We know what a valuable, volatile role the tight end spot can play. Unexpected volume and disproportionate touchdown opportunity come cheaply at this spot, and GPP value is exceptionally easy to achieve down the salary scale. Give us two intriguing low-dollar tight end plays (under $4,000 DK / $5,500 FD), and compare their overall GPP value to that of the tippity-top tier (Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, and Zach Ertz).
Justin Bonnema: I’m going back to Charles Clay. He’s healthy again and Tyrod Taylor has been taken out of detention. The Chiefs defense has allowed the eighth-most yards to tight ends this season on only 67 targets. Sure, there is concern that Clay won’t have volume, and he wasn’t great last week in his return, but I expect this game to be high scoring and I expect Clay to be a big part of the offensive game plan. Let’s not forget that he was the fourth highest-scoring tight end through the first five weeks of the season before getting injured. During that stretch he was one of the Bills’ three most important offensive players. I think we see that again this week against the Chiefs. You can’t really compare him, or anyone, to the upper echelon of tight ends like Gronkowski, Kelce, and Ertz, but for $5,300 on FanDuel and $4,100 on DraftKings, he offers great value.
Jason Wood: I like Bonnema’s choice of Clay. Let me start off by saying no value tight end projects as a better investment than Kelce, Ertz, or Jimmy Graham this week. They're my top three choices at the position and the only considerations for my cash lineups. Jared Cook ($5,500 FD) qualifies on FanDuel but is over the threshold on DraftKings. He's inconsistent but capable of big games.
Of the tight ends that qualify on both sites, Austin Hooper ($5,200 FD/$3,700 DK) fits the bill. Hooper is quietly working into a more consistent role in the Falcons offense. Atlanta still isn't executing at the level we saw last season but Hooper is as viable a red zone candidate as anyone on the roster. With Devonta Freeman out with a concussion, there's one less mouth to feed in what should be an easy matchup against the defensive-starved Buccaneers. I'll throw another DEEP CUT at you with C.J. Fiedorowicz ($4,500 FD/$2,800 DK). He hasn't done much since returning from injured reserve, but he was the team's top tight end going into the season. With Will Fuller V out, Fiedorowicz can jump back into the secondary target role at any time.
Justin Howe: I love, love, love Jason’s contributions here. Cook will be my top mid-range play on FanDuel in that sexy Broncos matchup we’ve been targeting for months. They’ve allowed 73+ yards and/or 1 touchdown to each of their last 6 games, with slam-dunk TE1 performances by Evan Engram (5 for 82 and 1) and Travis Kelce (7 for 133 and 1). Cook carries similar upside but comes far cheaper than the top salary tier that those guys always inhabit. Hooper also intrigues me; he’s always a touchdown threat and has drawn 6-9 targets in 5 of his last 7 games.
I’m also not giving up on Cameron Brate. I know his appeal comes from his strong rapport with Jameis Winston, and that Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t look his way often. But he’s such a gifted touchdown producer (12 over his last 25 games) that I’m all over him at this cost. Two catches and a touchdown would tie up GPP value.
Dan Hindery: Tyler Kroft ($3,900 on DraftKings and $5,300 on FanDuel) is worth looking at in a prime matchup against a Cleveland Browns defense that is giving up the second-most points per game to opposing tight ends and ranks 32nd in DVOA against the position. Kroft torched this same Browns defense back in Week 4 with 6 catches for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Browns rank first in DVOA against the run and do a fair job of limiting opposing wide receivers as well. The Browns are most vulnerable over the middle of the field, where Kroft does his damage.
As mentioned, Cook is just $5,500 on FanDuel and also has a fantastic matchup against a Denver Broncos defense that funnels opposing offenses toward the tight end. The Broncos are very good against the run and have excellent cornerbacks capable of shutting down opposing wide receivers. The Broncos have been victimized by tight ends, however. Cook has 26 targets over the last 4 games and went for 100+ yards in 2 of them.
Chris Feery: I agree with the guys that Clay looks like a fine value choice for this week, but I’ll be mostly paying up at the position this week. Ertz and Graham are my top choices from the expensive ones, but I can easily be talked into Kelce or Gronkowski as well. Outside of Clay on the bargain front, Cook is also my top choice on FanDuel. The Broncos have allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in four consecutive games, and it’s not too hard seeing Cook make it five in a row. On DraftKings, I’m digging deep and focusing on a contrarian option to both free up some much-needed salary and find plenty of differentiation for my lineup. O.J. Howard has been very hit-or-miss in his rookie campaign, but he has four touchdowns on the season. He can be had for a song this week. If the game goes according to script, he could see some extra targets as the Buccaneers play catch-up with the Falcons.
Danny Tuccitto: I agree with Jason and Chris about this week being one in which to pay up for tight ends. To add a little statistical flavor to that steak: none of my Top-8 DraftKings tournament values at the position – O.J. Howard, Julius Thomas, Garret Celek, Coby Fleener, Jack Doyle, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Austin Hooper, or Delanie Walker – instill confidence or have a good matchup.
That said, if I had to pick two value tight ends, I'd go with No. 9 and No. 11 in my DraftKings tournament value probability rankings, both of whom are dirt cheap and have good matchups:
David Njoku ($2,500) – His tournament value probability is 16 percent. He's achieved 4x value in 2 of 10 games (20%). He faces a Bengals pass defense that's allowed the seventh-most fantasy production to opposing tight ends over their past 5 games and ranks 28th in DVOA on tight end targets.
Adam Shaheen ($2,600) – His tournament value probability is 17 percent. He's achieved 4x value in 1 of 3 games that he's registered in the box score and 1 of 2 games since Zach Miller got hurt. (As always, small-sample caveats apply, but still.) Chicago is a big underdog, and Philadelphia has allowed the eighth-most fantasy production to opposing tight ends over their past five games.