Here's where all of our Week 9 savings go. Most weeks, we can construct a lineup heavy at QB/RB/WR thanks to solid discounts at tight end and defense. Not this week, it seems. Tight end pricing continues to swell tremendously, leaving us with two ultra-priced options (Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce) and at least a half-dozen others that have indeed been productive, but appear to be priced near their ceilings. Still, there are a few intriguing names down the board thanks to injuries and theoretical touchdown upside. Which tight end will dominate your cash play? And to which low-rent option (let's stay under $4,300 DK / $5,500 FD) will you have the most exposure in tournaments?
Justin Bonnema: I am a big fan of Cameron Brate this week. He's 11th among tight ends in targets, and even though O.J. Howard cuts into his playing time, his productivity hasn't been impacted. Brate has at least 6 catches and 60 yards in each of his last 4 games, and is the third-highest scoring tight end – in both FanDuel and DraftKings formats – since Week 4. No team distributes fantasy points to tight ends at a higher rate than the Buccaneers; I'm targeting Brate in cash and GPPs.
Jason Witten is another one that could see additional looks, specifically around the end zone. Kansas City has allowed the second-most yards to the position despite somehow holding Rob Gronkowski to 33 in the first game of the season.
For a cheap punt play, Ed Dickson should be at the top of the list. The Panthers just traded Kelvin Benjamin and we know Cam Newton loves targeting tight ends. He has averaged nearly six targets a game over the last four and gets a touchdown boost with Benjamin out of the picture. You could also target Austin Hooper in this game. I think he is finally becoming an important part of the Falcons' offense.
Finally, I'm sort of tempted to pay down to Tyler Higbee, but that is purely matchup-driven. The Giants have allowed the most touchdowns (7) and the seventh-most yards (466) to the position. The problem, of course, is that Higbee is barely involved in the game plan and may well end up with zero catches.
James Brimacombe: Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, Evan Engram, Jack Doyle, and Jared Cook are really the only names at tight end that I am looking at this week. They all have solid matchups and all play vital roles in their respective offenses. If I want to pay up, I want to get Ertz in there against the Broncos, who grade out as one of the worst defenses against the position. If I want to pay down, I want to go with the underrated Jared Cook on FanDuel, who is averaging nearly 6 targets a game and has 10 catches for 164 yards over the last 2 games. I feel like Jimmy Graham and Jack Doyle will have higher ownership this week based on their Week 8 performances, so I like the pivot over to Cook for upside and a nice savings.
Jeff Pasquino: Ed Dickson is a great call, as he can easily be the WR2-like player for Carolina. It isn't like Newton is not used to targeting a tight end in that offense (and Greg Olsen is due back relatively soon), so I like the Dickson call.
Of course Jack Doyle bubbles up to the top of the list ($4,300 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel), so too expensive there. I like Doyle more on DraftKings anyway with PPR scoring in the mix and the Colts not expected to score more than 18 points. Indianapolis could make it more of a game now due to Tom Savage having to start for the Texans, though, and Doyle could be a big part of that effort.
For a FanDuel tight end I will go with Vernon Davis ($5,400). He just makes the cut and faces a Seattle team that is weakest over the middle in pass defense, and Jamison Crowder could be out this week. All of that points to Davis paying off his value, at least to a 2x FanDuel cash level.
Danny Tuccitto: It looks like we're all on the same page here, as the list of tight ends in play for me this week literally comprises every single one mentioned so far. Therefore, I'm going to throw out a super-crazy, tournament-only punt play akin to Justin's Tyler Higbee call: Ben Watson. He's only $2,700 on Draftkings, which unlocks all sorts of possibilities elsewhere in one's lineup, and also means he only needs 10.8 points to achieve 4x value. One touchdown and you're basically home free. Meanwhile, the Titans pass defense ranks 23rd in DVOA on tight end targets; and both Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace are banged up.
John Mamula: Graham is the tight end that I will have the most exposure to in Week 9. Graham has been remarkably consistent, with at least three receptions in each of the past five games. He has also found the end zone four times over the past three weeks. As previously mentioned, Washington’s is a funnel defense as Josh Norman does an excellent job shutting down receivers on the outside.
For GPP, I will also be targeting cheaper tight ends Dickson and Higbee. Both of these players will be in a good position to score a touchdown when their offenses are in the red zone. At their respective salaries, a touchdown is all that is needed to reach value.
Justin Howe: Count me into the "you guys took my answer" camp. I'll likely follow the chalk (and the savings) to Doyle and Davis in cash games, but spend up for the elite guys in a GPP lineup or two. Ertz in particular looks tasty in that matchup; the Broncos' is a funnel defense that's generally shredded by tight ends.
In tournaments, I love Brate, as Other Justin does. He put it as well as I could've: even on a scaled-back snap count, Brate boasts high usage and top-tier touchdown upside. He has a special connection with Jameis Winston, one that's produced 12 touchdowns over its last 22 games. If I'm going ultra-cheap, I'm looking at his teammate: over the past few weeks, Howard has been drawing targets from inside the 10-yard line, and he's scored 3 times overall. As others have mentioned, with a TE this cheap, all we need is a touchdown and 1-2 more catches to turn in GPP value.