DFS Roundtable: High-Variance Tight Ends

The DFS team discusses the high-variance tight ends for Week 6 viability

Tight End is an absolute high-variance position beyond the top few names, at most. Injuries and usage are all over the place around NFL depth charts.

Name one or two tight ends who are cheap and you trust for Week 6?

Justin Howe: I'm always wary of Vance McDonald, much more so than the DFS community as a whole. He was an auto-fade for me last week, with so many DFSers fixated on his upside but not factoring in that he's still a strict part-timer. I'm much more inclined to jump at David Njoku, who's been flashing down the seams and has the eye of Baker Mayfield. Over the past two weeks, he's turned 18 targets into 11 catches for 121 yards, and the DFS sites haven't priced him up accordingly.

Jeff Heuerman is mildly intriguing, as well. He's not a volume prospect, as Case Keenum is locked firmly onto his top three wideouts. But Heuerman is dominating snaps in Denver (77% over the past 2 weeks) with Jake Butt out, and it's no real surprise. He was the first-teamer throughout training camp, playing both as an in-line blocker and a receiver. Denver coaches gushed during the preseason about his ability to both zip down the field and catch the ball. At such a low price point (and low DFS exposure), Heuerman could spearhead big GPP wins just by catching four balls and a touchdown.

Phil Alexander: In addition to Cameron Brate, who is still priced modestly despite a big increase, I'm willing to give Nick Vannett another try after he played 82% of Seattle's offensive snaps in his first game without former platoon-mate, Will Dissly. Vannett saw 20% of Russell Wilson's targets in Week 5, a solid rate for a tight end, and showed some play-making ability on a 32-yard reception. He's in play for both cash and GPPs vs. the Raiders.

James Brimacombe: Cameron Brate is the name I trust this week. He has shown in the past that he has a connection with Jameis Winston and sees heavy volume in the red zone. Right now the Buccaneers have ZERO running game and if they are to get into the red zone you better believe that Winston will be looking Brate’s way. With no OJ Howard to worry about sharing playing time, it is an easy play to insert Brate right into your lineup at an extremely cheap. Brate is coming off back to back games with 3 receptions and a touchdown against the Steelers and the Bears and should be started with confidence here.

Dan Hindery: My favorite cheap tight end for Week 6 is Cameron Brate. I especially love his price on FanDuel ($4,500). The Buccaneers have a team total of 27 points and are likely to pass a lot against a Falcons pass defense that has seen an average of 39.8 passes per game from opposing quarterbacks. With O.J. Howard out, Brate should play the majority of the snaps and he has always had a great rapport with Jameis Winston. I’m a bit leery of over-investing in the Tampa Bay offense this week, but Brate is my favorite play of the bunch.

For tournaments, Vance McDonald is worth considering. His ownership should be low after an incredibly disappointing Week 5 fantasy performance (1-6-0) as a chalky option. He is still extremely cheap ($4,600 on FanDuel) and has a matchup with considerable upside. The Steelers always seem to target the Bengals pass defense in the middle of the field with tight ends in this matchup, as Heath Miller consistently had 10+ receptions when facing the Bengals. While I don’t necessarily trust McDonald (low floor), I do trust his chances of having a big game (high ceiling). He is exactly the type of high-variance player to target in large-field GPPs.

Will Grant: I like Austin Hooper’s chances this week against a weak Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs gave up big points to the last three tight ends that they faced – Trey Burton (2-86-1), Vance McDonald (4-112-1) and Zach Ertz (11-94-0). Hooper is a good stack with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones (Jones has not reached the end zone this season).

David Njoku is a nice value play at tight end, but he has yet to reach the end zone. He’s facing the Chargers this week who gave up big numbers to George Kittle two weeks ago but have been solid against opposing tight ends otherwise. They held Jared Cook to just four receptions for 20 yards last week and kept Travis Kelce in check back in Week 1 with a single reception for just six yards. Njoku is a guy I trust down the road, but this may not be the week to start him.