The tight end position was a wasteland for fantasy points in 2017 as Travis Kelce (32) and Rob Gronkowski (36) were the only two to finish inside the top 50 in PPR scoring. Fortunately, a dynasty owner doesn’t need to spend a high startup pick or valuable trade assets to acquire a starting tight end.
Of all of the players to finish as a PPR TE1 in 2017, seven of the twelve (57%) had an August 2017 DLF startup ADP over 100 while (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 receptions and/or forced to start two players at the position. Thus, the walls are closing in on those dynasty owners who choose to punt on tight end.
This bi-weekly article series will focus on 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 Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the DLF Staff League will more than likely be much different (read: higher) than in your home league with a few inexperienced players.
In this week’s edition, I focus on three current top ten players at the position who must be sold right now before their dynasty value falters. Additionally, we will look at the current value of the SJ Twins; Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Ricky Seals-Jones.
VETERAN TIGHT ENDS TO SELL
Jared Cook, OAK
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Jared Cook’s nine-catch, 180-yard receiving performance on MNF in week one had the feeling of a player beginning a breakout season. Through the first two weeks, Cook not only leads the Raiders in targets (16) but he’s the highest scoring tight end in all of fantasy football. Yet, if you own him, now is the time to cash out on his dynasty stock before it comes crashing back down to earth.
The Raider tight end has a history of one or two strong statistical performances per season while filling up the stat sheets with clunkers the other 12-14 games. In 2013, Cook came out of the gate red-hot the first game, catching seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns for St. Louis. While Cook finished the year as TE12, he produced double-digit PPR points only three times in the next 15 contests.
Again in 2015 with the Rams, the South Carolina product put up a five-reception, 85-yard opening game performance to go scoreless the entire year and be held under ten fantasy points in all but one game the rest of the season. Finally, in 2017 the ten-year veteran used big performances in weeks seven (6/107) and nine (8/126) to propel him to another low-end TE1 finish (TE12), but again failed to reach the ten PPR point threshold in 11 of the other 14 games. Cook is the ultimate mirage of consistent fantasy production and should not be trusted as an every-week starter.
According to the DLF Trade finder, since his week one breakout the former Gamecock has been dealt straight up for wide receivers Rishard Matthews (twice) and Michael Crabtree or included in a package with DeVante Parker for David Njoku and Will Fuller. Unfortunately, Cook being 31 years old somewhat diminishes his dynasty value, but receiving a consistent veteran like Crabtree or younger players like Jamison Crowder or Njoku who started this season slow as compensation will only improve your dynasty team.
“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Don’t let another one week, early-season impressive outing from Cook allow you to overvalue the Oakland tight end.
Jordan Reed, WAS
I already covered Jordan Reed’s fragility in the first edition of this article; thus, there’s no need to waste any more
ink type on the subject. However, from now until the end of the season I’ll continually advise selling the Florida product before he’s in a familiar spot; the trainer’s table. Reed’s 13 targets (second on the team) have led to robust production (10/103/1) and a TE9 ranking over the first two weeks of 2018. If the Washington tight end weren’t such a high injury risk, he’d be a good bet to continue these numbers. Unfortunately, those of us who pay attention already know better.
In fact, smart owners have already been taking advantage of the yearly amnesia some in the dynasty community exhibit over the former Gator. In the last five days, Reed has been traded in even player swaps for Kyle Rudolph and Nelson Agholor (!) or as part of a two-for-one deal for Aaron Jones and Latavius Murray. Hit the accept button immediately if you are given the chance to snag a TE1 like Rudolph, a WR2 with upside like Agholor, or an RB with any kind of flex appeal. Reach out to the owners of Greg Olsen and/or Delanie Walker as they might overpay after watching Jonnu Smith and Ian Thomas underwhelm on Sunday. Owning Reed in dynasty is reminiscent of holding a time-bomb; ship him off to a gullible, contending owner before his value detonates and he’s stuck in your IR spot.
YOUNG TIGHT ENDS TO SELL
Eric Ebron, IND
INDY TE Snap Counts through 2 Weeks:
Jack Doyle: 136 Snaps (95.1%)
Eric Ebron: 54 Snaps (37.8%)
— Josh Brickner (@joshbrickner) September 17, 2018
A quick review of the positional fantasy rankings from the first two weeks and one would think Eric Ebron (TE7), not Jack Doyle (TE17), is the Colts’ tight end to own in dynasty. Yes, Ebron (7/77/2) has made the most of his nine targets and even found the end zone in each of the first two weeks. Yet, a look at both the above offensive snap counts and the historical data paint a very different picture. Doyle has not only played two-and-a-half times the snaps of Ebron and sits second on the team in targets (15) over these first two weeks, but the Western Kentucky product has averaged 94 targets, 72 receptions, 658 receiving yards, and five TDs over the previous two seasons in Indianapolis.
While Ebron has shown glimpses of being a reliable weapon in the past, he has never finished the season higher than TE13 (2017). Further, chasing the touchdown production of the former Tar Heel is a fool’s errand as he’s never caught more than five touchdowns in a single season (2015). Trade Ebron right now for a more youthful, promising player like Duke Johnson Jr. or Michael Gallup who have disappointed their owners the first two games. The former Lion is due for one of his patented two-reception, nine-yard performances and you want him off your squad before his inevitable descent back to mediocrity.
YOUNG TIGHT ENDS TO BUY
Ricky Seals-Jones, ARZ
Through the first two games, Ricky Seals-Jones is not only second on the team behind Larry Fitzgerald with 12 targets, but has been on the field for nearly 95% of the offensive snaps. Sadly, those 12 targets have only led to seven receptions for 36 yards as Sam Bradford and the Arizona offense have been an abomination to begin the year. They have scored only six combined points in two games and didn’t cross midfield in Sunday’s 34-0 drubbing in Los Angeles until the last 36 seconds of the game. That’s even a level of offensive incompetence I haven’t seen in a lifetime of Browns fandom. Further, injured starter Jermaine Gresham has been practicing on a limited basis and should return to the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
You’re probably asking yourself “Why in the hell should I trade for RSJ?!” First and foremost, Seals-Jones’ snap count and target share show a player who should still have a prominent role in the passing game even when Gresham is fully healthy. Additionally, the Cardinals should make the switch to Josh Rosen at quarterback sooner rather than later. Rosen might be a rookie, but I believe he will stabilize the offense and target the 6-5, 243-pound tight end early and often.
Finally, and probably most important, the price for the Texas A&M product continues to decrease and should go even lower once Gresham is in the active lineup. An offer of a brand-name player like Tyler Eifert, whose perceived value is much higher than his actual value, should be able to get a deal done. Stash RSJ on your bench until the Cardinals get their offensive house in order.
It was French critic Alphonse Karr who originally said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a living example of Karr’s words during week one as, despite a change in uniform, the big-bodied tight end had yet another touchdown catch nullified; this time via a holding penalty. Thankfully, ASJ’s four-yard scoring reception in Jacksonville’s 31-20 win over New England actually counted and was his first as a Jaguar.
The former Huskie has played on over 85% of the offensive snaps converting ten targets into six receptions, 48 yards, and the aforementioned score through two games. These numbers rank Seferian-Jenkins as TE16 while he gets his footing in the Jacksonville offense (would be TE8 with that opening game touchdown included).
This Jaguar aerial attack is on an upward trajectory, and I’m still sticking by my early July prediction of ASJ finishing this season as a low-end TE1. Granted the owner isn’t an ASJ fanboy like me, reach out to him/her and look to acquire the Jaguar tight end immediately. Another strong outing and the days of acquiring Seferian-Jenkins for Deon Cain or a package of Chad Hansen and a 2019 third will be a faint memory.
Were you involved in a trade for one of these players? Disagree with any of my assessments? Want me to profile a specific player for the next article? Reach out and/or give me a follow on Twitter and I’d be happy to chat with you.