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Best Ball Strategy: Tight End Deep Dive - Footballguys

Looking over the past two years of data we want to look at the floors and ceilings of the tight end position.

We have been revamping out Best Ball coverage here at Footballguys and we will continue to bring you articles to give you every advantage possible to win your leagues. This is my second article in a series of four that will look to deep dive the tight end position. The first article was Best Ball Strategy: Quarterback Deep Dive, and after the tight end article I will follow it up with a running back one and wide receiver one. This deep dive series will break down each position over the past two years with a focus on player's weekly production. In Best Ball, the key is both to look for players who will give you a steady stream of fantasy points week in and week out but also on the flip side you want to find the players at each position that can also deliver big spike weeks along the way. That being said we will be looking at players floors and ceilings in this exercise and seeing if we can find value Best Ball plays along the way. We will break down the players weekly fantasy production over the past two years (32 games) using DRAFT scoring and look at Top 20, Top 12, and Top 5 weeks for each player.

We will now look at the tight end position and try to find any potential values, must-haves, floor players, or high ceiling players. The chart below we are focusing on finding the tight ends that have the highest ceiling which we will evaluate by how many top-five fantasy weeks they had at the position over the past two seasons.

Tight End
DRAFT ADP
Stats from the Last Two Seasons (32 Regular-Season Games Possible
(on 8/1)
Games Played
Top 20
Top 12
Top 5
Top 12 %
Top 5 %
19
23
16
14
11
60.9%
47.8%
27
31
23
19
11
61.3%
35.5%
71
15
11
7
5
46.7%
33.3%
160
10
6
5
3
50.0%
30.0%
133
14
6
5
4
35.7%
28.6%
164
7
3
2
2
28.6%
28.6%
163
31
21
12
8
38.7%
25.8%
32
28
20
17
7
60.7%
25.0%
63
32
22
18
8
56.3%
25.0%
93
18
12
6
4
33.3%
22.2%
62
23
12
9
5
39.1%
21.7%
77
31
24
14
6
45.2%
19.4%
117
31
19
8
5
25.8%
16.1%
80
32
22
15
5
46.9%
15.6%
149
28
15
9
4
32.1%
14.3%
150
21
9
5
3
23.8%
14.3%
143
29
17
12
4
41.4%
13.8%
102
15
5
3
2
20.0%
13.3%
194
32
15
11
4
34.4%
12.5%
153
26
10
7
3
26.9%
11.5%
172
30
12
5
3
16.7%
10.0%
217
32
11
6
3
18.8%
9.4%
211
30
8
6
2
20.0%
6.7%
85
30
8
5
2
16.7%
6.7%
176
20
9
5
1
25.0%
5.0%
164
22
9
2
1
9.1%
4.5%
217
30
11
4
1
13.3%
3.3%
216
32
9
6
1
18.8%
3.1%
217
32
9
4
1
12.5%
3.1%
123
16
7
4
0
25.0%
0.0%
204
28
6
5
0
17.9%
0.0%
217
13
4
2
0
15.4%
0.0%
217
31
5
4
0
12.9%
0.0%
217
16
2
2
0
12.5%
0.0%
217
23
2
1
0
4.3%
0.0%

High-Ceiling tight ends

The results from the tight end position are much like those of the quarterback position. At quarterback it was Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson that were at the top of the position for their high-ceilings each week. At the tight end position it is Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce that stand out above all the rest with Gronkowski having even more of an impact with 47.8 percent of his games played over the last two seasons as a top-five fantasy tight end. Kelce finished second in this category with 35.5 percent of the time ending as a top-five tight end. The name that usually gets placed with the top tight ends is Zach Ertz and he actually finished as the eighth best at producing top five weeks. Ertz also makes up for it with his safe floor that he brings each week as he finished at the top in that category with both Gronkowski and Kelce.

The best values for high ceiling tight end plays look to be the more expensive Evan Engram 33.3% who might have benefited from an Odell Beckham injury, Tyler Eifert 30.0% (injury concerns), Ricky Seals-Jones 28.6% (small sample size), and the Tampa Bay duo of O.J. Howard 28.6% and Cameron Brate 25.8%. If you are looking to spend down at the position a combo of Howard and Brate look to a dynamic stack which may not seem optimal to have a TE stack/handcuff but the numbers make a lot of sense. You could also look to spend up a little on Engram in the 6th or 7th round and pair him with one of the Tampa Bay tight ends in the 12+ round which would give you a high upside duo that could give you a top-five performance for 33.3% plus 28.6% /or 25.8% of the time.

Brate feels like the guy I want to own in this range as his ADP is at 163 while O.J. Howard is at 133 while Seals-Jones 164, Eifert 160 and Engram 71. For the price if you really wanted to wait on tight end a Brate/Seals-Jones combo would allow you to load up on the other three positions as you likely would not have to draft those guys until the 14th round or later.

High-Floor tight ends

Looking at the best floor-plays that you don't have to overspend on with DRAFT, you will want to look to the likes of Tyler Eifert, Cameron Brate, and Eric Ebron. After the big three in Gronkowski, Kelce, and Ertz you have the next tier with Graham, Rudolph, Walker, Engram, and Olsen that all seem to be picked before or around round seven. Your options at tight end often seem to go as the draft falls to you. If you can get one of the big three at a reasonable price you might want to jump on it. Another option is spending a couple of your premium picks early in the draft to try to grab a pair of Gronkowski, Kelce, or Ertz. If you miss on those three you will be looking to see what value falls to you in the second tier and maybe wait until round seven or even eight if you can. If that doesn't work out there is a tier of Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, George Kittle, and Jack Doyle that doesn't quite crack this deep dive model for a high floor or high ceiling but all seem to be in offenses that might utilize them more this season.

The fact that Cameron Brate finds the list for both the high ceiling 25.8% and floor 38.7% plays he makes for a great target later in drafts as your TE2. If you want to pay up for safety and upside all in one, Rob Gronkowski would be your option as he has a 60.9% rate of top 12 performances and 47.8% chance of a top five week.

The tight end position looks to be a hard one this season to find value that will pay off later in the drafts. The position is top heavy with the big stars and the second tier are also expensive in rounds that you might be able to find better value at the running back or wide receiver positions. I think this is a position you want to try to grab two guys if you can get at least one of the guys in the top tier or the second tier. If you miss out on those two tiers it might be wise to look at a three tight end roster build.

Tight End Outliers

  • Jordan Reed fighting injuries throughout his career.
  • Trey Burton new team with a whole lot of upside.
  • George Kittle who still have Garrett Celek stealing reps.
  • David Njoku entering year two and early reports stating that he is struggling with drops.
  • Tyler Eifert who has seemed to be fighting injuries his entire career. Only 10 games played over last two seasons.
  • Benjamin Watson signing with New Orleans and getting a quarterback upgrade in Drew Brees.
  • Charles Clay with the Bills offense up in the air.
  • Jared Cook has a decent floor but not much of a top 5 upside each week.
  • Vance McDonald who was traded to Pittsburgh late last season. He now has a full off-season with the team.

It is hard to know where to draft these players in a Best Ball format because of how important roster construction is and how each of your 18 roster spots on DRAFT are so important. These players actually all feel pretty safe entering the season. The tight end position is one that is often up and down in fantasy and the more drafts you do the more you will get a feel for where these players will fall and you can start building your own favorite targets. Cameron Brate is the name that popped to me from all of these stats and looking at my own personal ownership he remains my highest owned player at the position.