Streaming Tight Ends: Week 1 Fantasy Football Targets
With most redrafts a thing of the past, it’s time to evaluate your roster choices and gauge if the TE you drafted is worthy of starting Week 1, or if you’re better off hitting the waiver wire in search of a better option. If you purposely approached drafting the TE position with the intention of streaming weekly, I’ve got you covered there, as well. As a strategy, streaming aims to find players with above average matchups, which can hopefully translate to TE1 production for your fantasy squad.
For streaming purposes, 4for4’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) is a metric we rely heavily on to determine weekly matchup strength. Since aFPA requires a minimum of three to four weeks of data to provide truly reliable results, in these early weeks, streaming options will be selected based on a combination of opponents’ predicted fantasy points allowed, projected targets and target share, red zone volume and last season’s numbers. 4for4 rankings also come into play here and should always be considered when making league-specific roster decisions.
The goal is to roster a player that is going to return TE1 fantasy points and last year this methodology did just that—4for4’s streaming options averaged 9.1 PPR points per contest and the optimal streamer scored 281.8 total PPR points in 2017, which equated to TE10 and TE1 numbers on the season, respectively.
In order to provide advice that you can actually implement, candidates for streaming must be owned in no more than 40 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues.
Top Streaming Picks
Charles Clay (Bills) @ Ravens
If you’ve been reading my TE articles all summer, it should come as no surprise to find Clay listed here, and if not, welcome to the 2018 Clay love-fest. He starts out Week 1 against a Baltimore team that opens the year as the third-worst in TE aFPA. In just 13 games in 2017, the 29-year old Clay was ninth in targets per game among NFL TEs with 5.7, and first in target rate per snap on Buffalo’s offense among relevant players.
With perhaps the highest spot in the pass-catching pecking order in a muddled Buffalo offense, I like Clay’s potential to start off the season. While his QB situation may not be ideal, inexperienced Nathan Peterman will look to the veteran to make some plays and get this offense moving the chains. After Week 1, Clay faces three challenging opponents, but it’s smooth sailing after that for the rest of the season when it comes to aFPA, so if you can hang onto him for streaming purposes it could benefit your roster long-term.
Owned by just 34 percent of Yahoo fantasy drafters, Clay could be a difference maker from the jump, so grab him if you need him.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jaguars) @ Giants
New York opens the season with the 29th ranked DST in TE aFPA, projected to yield 14.3 PPR points per game to opposing TEs. After Marqise Lee sustained major knee damage in Week 3 of the preseason, Jacksonville is now without their number one pass-catcher and the guy with the highest target volume from last season. Enter ASJ.
Sure, the Jaguars will most likely spread Lee’s volume around, but the former Jets’ TE is in a solid spot in Week 1. Last season, Marcedes Lewis had the highest red zone target market share on the Jags offense with 16.7 percent of the team's looks inside the 20. Camp was kind to Blake Bortles and ASJ’s new relationship, as the TE was praised for his work ethic and talent, while the two built some solid chemistry.
After the Giants, Jacksonville faces three straight opponents ranked 18th or worse in TE aFPA, so if you stream him this week, you may want to think about stashing the Jags’ TE for the early part of the season. ASJ is on the waiver wire in 67 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Eric Ebron (Colts) vs. Bengals
There are plenty of Ebron haters in fantasy land, but I’m not among them, especially in Week 1. With a healthy Andrew Luck under center and a juicy season-opening matchup, Ebron makes a nice streamer to kick off the 2018 campaign. Cincinnati opens the season ranked 27th against opposing TEs, with an aFPA of 13.6 PPR points.
Luck has proven himself to be a lover of the TE, as he completed a massive 74 percent of his passes to TEs in 2016, his last full season. The Colts’ QB boasts a 69 percent success rate to the position in his five-year career in the NFL. After T.Y. Hilton, Indy’s WR corps lacks explosiveness, so look for plenty of two TE sets, especially against a porous Bengals’ DST.
Ebron is rostered in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues and features a really cushy schedule this entire season, in terms of aFPA. He makes a nice accompaniment even after Week 1, with some stand-alone potential as the season moves along.
Deep-League Streaming Picks
Ricky Seals-Jones (Cardinals) vs. Redskins
Washington is projected to allow 12.9 PPR points to TEs per tilt in 2018, ranked 23rd in aFPA to tight ends. Last season, Seals-Jones saw a target rate of 18.9 percent, the third-highest on the Cardinals offense, just ahead of star wideout Larry Fitzgerald. It appears that the 23-year old gets the nod at TE this season and could see a decent Week 1 output. He’s currently available in 73 percent of Yahoo leagues and is worthy of a stream in larger leagues.
Vance McDonald (Steelers) @ Browns
Normally I don’t love Pittsburgh TEs and this season is no different. However, with Jesse James banged up and a spongy DST on tap in Week 1, McDonald makes the streaming cut to start the season in deeper-league formats. He matches up with the absolute worst ranked team in TE aFPA to open the year, a Browns’ DST who allowed 15.0 PPR points to TEs weekly last year. With just a 17 percent ownership, he’s worth a shot this week if your league’s waiver wire is down to tumbleweeds.
Tight End to Bench
George Kittle (49ers) @ Vikings
You have your new shiny TE and are ready to take him out to play, right? Not so fast, as Kittle has a brutal contest to start the 2018 season. He gets the Vikings on the road, a team who ranks eighth in the league in TE aFPA to open the season, projected to give up a measly 10.2 PPR points weekly to the position. Kittle averaged just 4.2 targets per game in 2017 and could be stifled in Minnesota against their tough secondary. If you drafted another guy you like at TE I’d play him this week, or perhaps consider grabbing one of the above streamers to start the show.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.