DFS Roundtable: Second Tier Tight Ends

The DFS team discusses the uncertain second tier of tight ends

Four critical tight ends for lineup building include David Njoku, O.J. Howard, Eric Ebron, and Greg Olsen.

What is your comfort level with each if passing on the high-priced studs of the position?

Phil Alexander:

  • David Njoku - 100% confidence. Feast your eyes on Tampa Bay's performance against opposing tight ends this season.
  • O.J. Howard - 75% confidence. Lighting it up in each of his last three healthy games. Browns have been better against tight ends this year than in the past, but remain exploitable (see Jared Cook in Week 4). Only difficulty is projecting if he's ready to get back to a 65%-75% share of the snaps this week.
  • Eric Ebron - 100% confidence if Hilton and Doyle remain sidelined. Luck is throwing a ton and has precious few other options.
  • Greg Olsen - 0% confidence. In-game injury waiting to happen. Where are big plays coming from on a 33-year-old foot that needs surgery?

James Brimacombe:

  • David Njoku I am buying in on Njoku and like his potential blowup spot once again against the Buccaneers. 23 targets in the past twogameshasmyattention and I think that high production continues this week.
  • O.J. Howard – I prefer Njoku for cash games but Howard has to be in consideration for GPP games as he has a clear connection with Jameis Winston and this Cleveland/Tampa game is one ofthepremierblowup games on the week.
  • Eric EbronAndrew Luck is loving Ebron right now and as long as Ebron is active this week he will be in my Tight End pool of potential plays. He is a solid cash game play especially if he practices in full all week and comes with no questionable tag come Sunday.
  • Greg Olsen – I think I will pass on Olsen for at least one more week as I think he is still getting the rust off and a matchup against the Eagles doesn’t feel that appealing.

Dan Hindery:

David Njoku: My comfort level with Njoku is high. He is my top tight end play for Week 7. The Browns have almost nothing at wide receiver behind Jarvis Landry, which makes Njoku the clear #2 passing target in this offense. His 23 targets over the last two weeks aren’t a fluke. The matchup against the league’s 32nd-ranked pass defense is perfect. Over the last three weeks, the Buccaneers have allowed 9-71-1 to Austin Hooper, 2-86-1 to Trey Burton, and 4-112-1 to Vance McDonald.

Eric Ebron: As with Njoku, Ebron has seen a massive increase in targets of late due to injuries at wide receiver and tight end. Andrew Luck has very little talent at his disposal and Ebron has been pushed to the forefront. He has a whopping 43 targets over the last 4 weeks. Buffalo has been strong against the tight end and has the #2 pass defense (DVOA) overall, so he is in a much tougher matchup than Njoku. He has also been priced up quite a bit so the value isn’t as high as it has been.

O.J. Howard: Howard is a solid option but also ranks behind Njoku because Tampa Bay has so many more options in the passing game than Cleveland, which makes Howard's share of targets much elss certain. Jameis Winston loves his tight ends, especially in the red zone. He has thrown over 40% of his career touchdown passes to tight ends. Howard has scored in 5 of his last 10 games, so he has a decent touchdown projection to go along with his consistent yardage production (50+ yards in 7-of-10).

Greg Olsen: Olsen’s playing time (59 snaps) and usage (7 targets) were encouraging in his Week 6 return. However, Cam Newton has a lot of targets and Olsen is going to have some weeks where he doesn’t get a ton of work. Week 7 against Philly’s defense that ranks 2nd-best in DVOA against opposing tight ends could be a week where his volume is lower. I trust Olsen the least of these tight ends this week.

Justin Howe:

Njoku is exciting, a seam-stretching physical freak who’s got the eye of his rookie quarterback. I’m not sure he’ll boast the touchdown upside of the top tight ends, but he could be settling in as an 8-target-a-week guy. With all of that athletic dynamism, what would stop him from generating splash plays and touchdowns?

Howard is the one I’m coolest on. He’s making big downfield plays week after week, but I chase volume in DFS, not long touchdowns. And Howard has drawn more than four targets just once thus far. I may be the only guy left beating the Cameron Brate drum, but Brate has long had a great rapport with Winston, and he won’t be easy to brush aside any further.

By default, Ebron is always worthy of DFS attention and sits as the top value play at the position while Jack Doyle sits. His price is getting close to Rob Gronkowski’s, but that’s more due to Gronkowski’s dip in production than to Ebron being overvalued. Andrew Luck is infatuated with the tight end position, so 10+ weekly targets and a look or two near the goal line is a fair assumption for Ebron right now.

Olsen is back to massive snaps, but I worry about the prospect of reinjury. He’s not particularly expensive, but an in-game foot complication would be a majorly-sunk opportunity cost. There’s similar volume available cheaper in Njoku, Kyle Rudolph, etc.

Will Grant:

David Njoku

  • I like Njoku this week. He’s being targeted more by Mayfield and he’s playing a Tampa team that gives up a lot of yards and points.

O.J. Howard

  • It’s feast or famine with Howard. He had a couple decent games recently but posted a big fat zero against the Bears a couple weeks ago. That game looks more like the outlier than last week, and I think Howard might be a nice stack with Jameis Winston this weekend against the Browns as well.

Eric Ebron

  • Ebron is on fire and he’s almost a chalk play at this point. The Colts are expected to walk all over Buffalo with Derek Anderson under center, so Ebron seems like a great cash play this week.

Greg Olsen

  • Olsen saw a ton of snaps, but still only had 4 receptions for minimal fantasy impact. Carolina is a running team and Olsen is a guy I’m fading in DFS until I see more than four receptions for minimal gain. Eagles are pretty tough on opposing tight ends as well so Olsen is definitely a fade this week.

BJ VanderWoude: Eric Ebron is the best of this bunch because he is the No.1 target on his team and the Colts are forced to pass at a high volume each week. His touchdown production (six touchdowns in six games) makes him an auto-play at his price, and I have confidence in him. David Njoku gets a porous Tampa Bay defense that has given up the 2nd most points to tight ends this season. At his price, he has to be in consideration for a significant portion of your exposure at the position. Significant being in the 15%-20% range.

O.J. Howard is right on the line for me. The Bucs have a lot of mouths to feed, as Howard has only seen five or more targets in one game this season. He has done well with his opportunities, but big plays at the tight end position is about as hard a thing to predict as there is in the NFL. I don't have a problem with investing in him this week, but comparatively speaking, I trust him much less than Ebron or Njoku. Greg Olsen saw seven targets in his return this past week, which is very promising but his production was still rather mediocre (four catches for 48 yards). It is a great point that he saw a high number of snaps in his return which bolstered my confidence in playing him week to week. With his risk of re-injury, I have to temper my exposure to the 10% range. It still remains to be seen whether he can get back to being a difference maker on a team that really needs production at the wide receiver and tight end position.

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