A 2015 Streaming Recap & 6 Tight End Sleepers for 2016
The concept of tight end streaming has been around since the dawn of fantasy football, when those of us archaically used newspapers to tally scores and played the matchups based on gut instincts. Without the internet and analytics to provide us pertinent information, we most likely struggled to find the right fit each week and didn’t maximize our chances of success over the course of the season.
With the advancement in technology, fantasy football exploded and the term streaming was applied to the idea of identifying a player, in this case a TE, on the waiver wire with a favorable matchup most likely to post TE1-caliber fantasy points. At 4for4, the basis of our research is our Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) metric. We can rely more on aFPA as the season progresses due to more data being available to us, in conjunction with volume and efficiency metrics.
In looking back at the 2015 season, we can see how effective our methods were for plucking out quality TEs to stream each week, and determine our level of success in choosing players worthy of a TE1 grade. Last season saw the emergence of Jordan Reed, whose average draft position (ADP) was somewhere in the 14th round as the 19th TE off the board.
If you were lucky enough to draft Reed, or stream the Redskins' tight end early on as we suggested, you saw him produce right out of the gate with 19.3 PPR points in Week 1 followed by three strong weeks with 14 PPR points per game (PPR/G) through Week 5. The Washington TE was sidelined for a few weeks but returned with a monster Week 7, putting up 30.3 fantasy points. Transitioning from a bye week replacement or occasional streamer, Reed owners found themselves with a rock solid starter whose second half of the season consisted of 18.7 PPR/G finishing as the TE2 on the year.
The streaming darlings of the 2015 season were Zach Ertz, Zach Miller and Will Tye. Ertz was the only member of this group to even have an ADP, as both Miller and Tye were ranked outside of the top 20 to start the season and were rarely drafted. For being the 12th TE taken as high as the eighth round and as low as the 14th, Ertz was a pleasant surprise and perhaps a difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs for his owners. During Weeks 14-17, his PPR/G was a solid 21.0, second to only Jordan Reed.
Those who streamed Miller and Tye based on our aFPA data in the final weeks of the season saw huge numbers from the duo that most likely aided in a championship win or at least a spot on the medal stand.
Miller, who was sidelined for Week 17, finished as the TE8 with 15 PPR/G from Weeks 14-16.
Although the Giants missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season, if you chose to stream Tye based on our recommendation, your fantasy team was handsomely rewarded through the fake playoffs, as Tye racked up 52.8 PPR points in Weeks 14-17, enough for the TE5 spot.
At the end of the 2015 season, we saw five TEs crack the top 12 whose ADP was in the 12th round or later with a few not even seeing a draft board. When going over data for this year’s TE crop, I see a large amount of potential for guys to breakout and earn true sleeper status. Here’s a look at some later round TEs who may just prove to be your secret weapons this season, generating TE1 numbers with a low price tag.
John Paulsen recently released his 16 Tight End Sleepers & Values. As this year's tight end streaming analyst, I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject as well. Through a slightly different process, John and I came to many of the same conclusions.
Dwayne Allen, Colts
Not only is Allen flying solo at the TE position since Coby Fleener signed with New Orleans during free agency, but the Colts have a very favorable schedule in 2016. In addition to his increased targets, according to 4for4 Hot Spots data, Allen will matchup against some of the leagues softest versus the TE position this season. From Week 1 through their bye in Week 10, Indianapolis will only face one very strong opponent, the Chiefs, who are projected to give up a stingy 9.5 points to TEs this season. Allen gets the pleasure of lining up against two very weak opponents and two moderately weak ones, which bodes well for his fantasy output. With a current ranking as TE18, and an ADP of 19.01 for a 10-team league and 16.01 for a 12-team, Allen makes a really nice sleeper candidate to bust out with TE1 numbers.
Vance McDonald, 49ers
The 26-year-old TE has been gaining traction this summer as a potential sleeper, so let’s just hope that your league mates haven’t been paying too much attention. With the new Chip Kelly regime comes more plays called for the TE due to the mismatches they tend to create. At the end of last season, McDonald averaged 8.6 PPR/G over his final four games, a number that should increase not only due to the new system but his being more comfortable in this offense. Whether he gets the rock from Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert, putting up TE1 numbers isn’t out of the realm of possibility for McDonald who is currently ranked as the TE29 with an ADP in the 20 plus rounds.
I know, you’ve been burned by Cameron before and don’t want to endure heartbreak over his lack of production again. Believe me, I get it. This year should be a different story, one with a happy ending for those who draft him. Dolphins new head coach Adam Gase is a big fan of using his TEs and has proven that they can produce in his offense. Julius Thomas scored a monster contract with the Jags after playing for Gase from 2013-2014, and Zach Miller and Martellus Bennett combined for 878 yards last season with Gase as their offensive coordinator. As the 20th TE in 4for4 rankings, Cameron makes for a nice sleeper candidate with an ADP of 21.02 in 10-team leagues and a 17.10 in 12-team leagues.