DFS Roundtable: The Tight End Divide

Which tight end will you have the most exposure to in tournament play? Who are you counting on to score an unexpected touchdown? And who's your safest TE option for cash games?

In Week 8, we see two distinct classes of tight ends: Rob Gronkowski/Zach Ertz, and everyone else. That's especially true on DraftKings, where we see a massive drop from Ertz ($7,000) to TE3 Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($4,900), but the gap is evident in all corners of the industry. That leaves us a boatload of potential value to sift through if we don't want to pay up here. Which tight end will you have the most exposure to in tournament play? Are there any bargain-basement guys who you feel have strong chances to score an unexpected touchdown? And who's your safest TE option for cash games?

Jason Wood: Tyler Kroft will be my main GPP play on DraftKings at $3,000. He's not the player Tyler Eifert is (when healthy), but he was a third-round draft pick and has a polished offensive game. He's started to assert himself as a key piece of the Bengals offense, and this week's matchup versus the Colts is particularly enticing. In cash games, I'll be playing Jason Witten ($4,200) and Hunter Henry ($4,800) for the most part, with a sprinkling of Zach Ertz.

On FanDuel, there's much less jaw-dropping value. Kroft, for example, is up at $5,700. That's only a 22% discount to Ertz, versus DraftKings, where Kroft is 57% cheaper than the Eagles star. With value harder to come by, my GPP plans are split between paying up for Ertz ($7,300) and betting on future Hall of Famer Jason Witten ($5,400). In cash games, it'll be a mix of Ertz, Henry ($5,500) and Witten.

Dan Hindery: I’m with Jason: the tight end most often making his way into my Week 8 lineups is Jason Witten. He is priced affordably as the TE13 on FanDuel and the TE10 on DraftKings. With Josh Norman back and likely to shadow Dez Bryant, the Cowboys receivers all have difficult matchups. Washington ranks fourth in DVOA against WR1s and second in DVOA against WR2s. However, Washington is 28th against the TE spot and is giving up 86.5 receiving yards per game to the position. That 86.5 yards per game is worst in the NFL by nearly 10 yards (Cleveland ranks 31st, allowing 77.6 yards per game).

Tyler Kroft is an inexpensive tight end with a high touchdown expectation – the Colts have given up receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends in four of the last five weeks. Since Tyler Eifert went down with an injury, Kroft has been one of Andy Dalton’s favorite red zone targets. Kroft has three touchdowns over his four starts.

James Brimacombe: My favorite tight end play this week is Jordan Reed, as his price is relatively low and he is coming off a two-touchdown breakout against the Eagles (who have been tough against the TE position). Most importantly, he came out of the game healthy. The Cowboys rank as one of the best teams in defending the TE position, but when I looked closer at their matchups over the first seven weeks, the competition that they have faced is almost laughable: Evan Engram, Virgil Green, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Higbee, Martellus Bennett, and George Kittle. Reed just played a game in which he saw 10 targets for 8 catches, 64 yards, and 2 touchdowns; in a similar divisional game plan, he should see plenty of targets once again. Kirk Cousins has been looking for a go-to target in the passing game all season, and if healthy, Reed could be that guy.

Chris Feery: The guys have already mentioned my two favorite tight ends of the week outside of the upper tier. Jordan Reed and Tyler Kroft will be in the majority of my lineups on both sites, but I’m also inclined to pay up for Zach Ertz for some diversification. As James mentioned, Reed looks to be ready to assume the go-to target role for Kirk Cousins, who has been playing at a high level. For Kroft, he has a primo matchup on tap against the Indianapolis Colts, and the cap savings he affords is nothing to sneeze at. At the upper tier, I give Ertz the nod over Rob Gronkowski on FanDuel due to the price savings, but it’s a toss-up on DraftKings where they’re only separated by $100.

John Mamula: I’m absolutely on board with Reed and Kroft. Honestly, they’re my only two cash-game considerations this week.

Hindery: The more I look at tight end this week, the more I think James is right that Reed is the best play, and I'm moving from Witten to Reed. Dallas has been very good against the tight end so far in 2017 but it may be fluky. With the same scheme and most of the same personnel last season, Dallas was amongst the league's worst defenses against the position. The last time Dallas faced Washington, Reed had a huge 10-95-2 performance (31.5 DraftKings points, 26.5 FanDuel). With Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder struggling and Josh Doctson coming along slowly, there is a huge opening for Reed to re-establish himself as the go-to target in the Washington offense.

Justin Howe: Yes, Reed looks like the call for me as well. It’s all there: the volume, the massive touchdown upside, the priced-for-injury cost on both major sites. And Dan is wise to bring us back to 2016, when virtually this same Cowboys group was a weekly target for tight end plays.

There’s also still a ton of value in Cameron Brate, whose price leveled off this week, probably due to O.J. Howard’s breakout. Many didn’t notice that Brate caught 6 passes for 60 yards, and that he out-targeted the rookie 9-6; in fact, he’s won the battle 39-18 on the year. Brate has been a sheer dynamo of late, posting 4-6 receptions for 60-80 yards in each of the last 4 weeks – and he’s caught a touchdown in 4 of his last 5. He’s a clear favorite of Jameis Winston, and he’s been a fixture in the Buccaneers’ short-yardage passing since his breakout early last season. He’s a certified stud on the second TE tier, and despite the presence of Howard, who’s used more as a blocker than a receiver, Brate is as stable a play as they come here.