6 Tight End SOS Beneficiaries & Ideal Late-Round Pairings
At times, the volume of noise surrounding fantasy football can feel like you’re communicating with Charlie Brown’s teacher, with endless amounts of new data, charts, tables, and graphs creating a wah wah wah wah sound inside your brain. With so much information available, it can be overwhelming for some and be confusing for others as to what they should focus on to benefit them the most on draft day.
When it comes to using strength of schedule, knowing which TEs have the most favorable path in front of them is more advantageous than perhaps any other position in a fantasy draft. This is in part due to the amount of disparity between the top few elite TEs and the rest of the pack. In other words, if you don’t draft Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz or George Kittle, and the next tier of players falter, there’s a chance you will find yourself combing the waiver wire or streaming the TE position at some point throughout the course of the season.
By looking ahead and evaluating each team’s schedule, you can up your chances of drafting a mid- to low-tier player who could hit it big, therefore potentially eliminating the need for the waiver wire or streaming options. No matter which strategy you choose to implement this season, walking into your draft knowing which TEs will benefit from the softest schedules gives you a leg up on your competition—we will take any advantage we can possibly get in fantasy football.
Strength of Schedule Beneficiaries
Below is a list of mid-to-low-rated TEs who, according to 4for4’s strength of schedule (SOS) rankings and schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) metric, will have the easiest route from week to week through the NFL season. From here you can decide whether your approach will be to reach for a top-tier player, aim for upside on a mid-grade TE, grab one of the pairs mentioned later in this piece, or use this data to prepare to stream a few players as the season develops.
Baltimore’s TE room is a crowded one but heading into training camp it appears Andrews is leading the pack. He ended last year with nearly triple the PPR points per game than any other Ravens TE and finished the season with 3.1 targets per contest compared to 2.3 for Nick Boyle and 1.9 for Hurst. While Hurst was injured for four of those games, Andrews seemed to have impressed staff the most and that sentiment appears to have held over into early OTAs and minicamps.
Baltimore’s schedule is among the softest in the NFL when it comes to defending the TE position, as their opponents are projected to allow an average of 12.8 PPR and 8.0 standard fantasy points per game to TEs in 2019. Andrews will face three defenses ranked within the top 10 in TE aFPA, while the rest of their schedule is peppered with teams from the basement of the league, including the 32nd ranked Chiefs and two tilts with the Bengals, who sit 27th in aFPA heading into the season. Andrews is currently coming off boards as TE20 in the 14th round, which could be a steal based on his potential in 2019.
Aside from the Bills, who Herndon only faces once during the fantasy season unless you’re in a rare league that plays during Week 17, the rest of the AFC East is weak when it comes to opposing TEs. Miami was ranked 26th in PPR aFPA in 2018, with the Patriots checking in as 25th.
Herndon’s remaining schedule only sees two teams ranked among the top 10, with the remainder falling in the bottom half of the league in TE aFPA. Another plus is that even though Herndon could be facing a several-game suspension due to a DWI, the Jets first game of the season is against Buffalo, who ended 2018 sixth in TE aFPA.
This will be year two for both Herndon and Sam Darnold, so an uptick in performance, coupled with a cushy schedule could mean big things for the Jets athletic TE. John Paulson has Herndon ranked as TE14 heading into the season, and his current ADP is in the late-13th round as TE16.
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