Tight End Sleepers, Values, and Targets
Strategies involving the tight end position vary from analyst to analyst. There are those who believe it’s an easily replaceable onesie position. That is, owners only have to start one per team, so there are always a number of decent options available on the waiver wire, and therefore it’s not worth burning an early-round pick on an elite TE. Then there are those who believe that drafting an elite TE is a good foundation for a championship roster. I used to fall into the latter group, but in recent seasons, I have varied my approach based on the makeup of the position and whether there was a screaming value at the position in the later rounds.
I’ll often go into my draft having identified my quarterback and tight end targets and then build my draft strategy around those two positions, finding running backs and receivers that fit within that framework. Hunter Henry was going to be my main target in 2018, but an ACL tear has ended his breakout season before it began. Since the Henry injury, I have been actively targeting a stud tight end in the third round, but if I miss out on Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz early, then I’m typically waiting a while on the position.
I’ve divvied up the TEs into three groups: Targets (i.e., players I’m actively targeting in any given draft), Values (going in the eighth to 14th round) and Sleepers (15th round or later).
Last year, I drafted Travis Kelce quite a bit in the third round since I liked his situation and I felt there was a drop-off in talent at running back and receiver at that point in the draft. This year, with Rob Gronkowski and Kelce often going in the second round, Ertz is one of my main third-round targets. He has caught at least 74 passes and gained at least 816 yards in each of the last three seasons. The one concern with him heading into the 2017 season was his lack of touchdowns, but he caught eight in 14 games and solidified himself as a top-three tight end last season. His numbers were even better (5.2-60-0.64 for 15.0 PPR fantasy points) in 11 games with Carson Wentz, so he could push for the No. 1 TE spot in 2018.
Trey Burton, Bears (in the eighth round)
The Bears signed Burton to play the Travis Kelce role in new HC Matt Nagy’s offense. He’s an athletic tight end who is going to spend more time running routes than he will be blocking in the passing game. His career fantasy points per target (1.70) is roughly equal to the average FP/T (1.69) of the nine tight ends not named Gronkowski, Kelce, or Ertz who finished in the top 12 last season, so the main question is usage. As long as he sees 85–100 targets, he’s a great bet to finish in the top 10. I liked drafting Burton more when he was going in the double-digit rounds, but he’s still an attractive pick in the eighth.
Jack Doyle, Colts (in the ninth round)
Continue reading to see why John is targeting Jack Doyle, which tight ends are on his values list, and who he deems are sleeper tight ends this year...