The tight end position in fantasy football was disastrous in 2018… if you didn’t own one of the top-five tight ends. Travis Kelce (14), Zach Ertz (16), George Kittle (23), Eric Ebron (33), and Jared Cook (45) all finished in the top 50 in PPR leagues last season. While Cook was on the back of a milk carton a few weeks, the disparity between the haves and have-nots at the tight end position in fantasy football was significant.
Of all of the players to finish as a PPR TE1 in 2018, six of the 12 (50%) had an August 2018 DLF startup ADP over 100 while three (33%) were being drafted after the 175th pick late last summer. Finding value is as important now more than ever as a growing trend in the dynasty community is the tight-end premium league. In this format, owners are either given an extra half PPR point for a reception and/or are forced to start two players at the position. Thus, the walls are still closing in on those dynasty owners who choose to punt on tight end.
This article series will continue giving savvy dynasty participants a leg up in identifying both undervalued tight ends you should buy right now and overrated players whom you should sell at their maximum value. All of the trade examples are courtesy of the DLF Trade Finder, but please remember these are just examples. The specific market value of any player will be determined by the competitiveness of your league and the intelligence of the opposing owner in your negotiations. The price to acquire Ian Thomas in the DLF Staff League will likely be much different (read: higher) than in your home league with a few inexperienced players.
Today, we will take a look at three tight ends dynasty degenerates should look to buy before the incoming free agency period.
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Ian Thomas, CAR
When Greg Olsen was sidelined for three games early in the 2017 season, many (including this writer) expected rookie Ian Thomas to shine in his absence. Unfortunately, the IU product flopped, producing only 68 scoreless yards in those contests. When Olsen re-injured the same foot in week 12, Thomas took full advantage of his second chance.
The former Hoosier caught 20 of 27 targets for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the final five games of the season. Most importantly, Thomas’ performances in weeks 14 and 16 (16.7, 14.8) helped some fantasy owners bring home their league’s trophy.
While Olsen is expected to make a full recovery, he’s not getting any younger at 33 and has missed half of the regular season games the last two years. Yet, due to the former Hurricane’s contract, he’s likely to be on the team for at least the next two seasons.
Olsen’s contract status is making his teammate much more affordable in the trading market. Since the season ended, Thomas has been acquired straight up for teammate Devin Funchess and three fourth round rookie picks on the low-end. Use not only the veteran’s contract, but Cam Newton’s absence in 2019 to acquire Thomas at an extreme value.
Chris Herndon, NYJ
It was a rough year in 2018 for some of my predictions in this series (see: Seferian-Jenkins, Austin and Seals-Jones, Ricky) but Herndon was one of the few bright spots. On the surface, Herndon’s TE17 PPR finish to the fantasy season seems unimpressive. Yet, a deeper dive into the numbers tells a much different story.
It took The U alum until his sixth game to become a fantasy contributor, but he shined in his last 11 games converting 49 targets into 34 receptions, 455 yards, and four touchdowns. Herndon was the TE9 in PPR leagues from week six through the end of the season.
Since the season ended, Herndon’s dynasty value has been all over the map. On the cheap end of the spectrum, he was acquired for Tre’Quan Smith only while he cost another fake footballer Robby Anderson. There’s many instances of Herndon being acquired for a second round rookie pick. I’m a big fan of the 22-year-old Jet tight end, but not at those prices. My advice is to wait until the Jets sign a veteran backup in free agency. This player will be used primarily for blocking purposes and won’t hurt the former Hurricane’s actual value, but his perceived value should dip allowing dynasty owners to snag him for cheaper.
Do you really think I could write the first TE Premium article of 2019 and not include my man ASJ? I was going to qualify Seferian-Jenkins as a post-hype sleeper, but I might have been one of the few people creating said hype. ASJ’s contract option was not picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars and he can now be freed of a terrible quarterback situation many (hand raised) thought could work to his benefit.
The reasoning to buy ASJ is twofold. He’s now somewhat like a lottery ticket as a free agent and the cost to acquire the former Buc tight end is dirt cheap. Seferian-Jenkins was acquired in the new year for Dan Arnold and a 2019 fourth round rookie pick. If Rob Gronkowski retires and the former Huskie finds himself as the TE1 of the Patriots, his dynasty value (TE29) would literally rise from the dead (cue Undertaker GIF) as the big-bodied tight end was not selected in any (!) February DLF mock drafts. His rotting dynasty carcass would also come back to life if he landed with New Orleans, Dallas, or Detroit who will likely be in the market for a starting tight end.
Latest posts by Josh Brickner (see all)
- The Dynasty Fallout of Austin-Seferian-Jenkins’ Move to New England - April 17, 2019
- The Tight End Premium: Three Players to Buy before Free Agency - March 1, 2019
- Dynasty Capsule: Cleveland Browns - February 3, 2019