2019 Fantasy Tight End: Who to Draft and When

kittle.jpg

Article by: Matt Higgins

A common 2018 fantasy draft debate was whether or not Travis Kelce should be taken ahead of Rob Gronkoski?  Draft Day concluded that no, Gronk was still the fantasy asset to own and went with an ADP of 20th overall compared to Kelce who went 24th and Ertz who went 32nd.  If you took Gronk at 20 you missed out on Mike Evans, Joe Mixon, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce.  Well, it wasn’t as bad as taking Bell first overall, but you do have to think long and hard about spending valuable draft capital on an early round tight end.  WATO Fantasy Football wanted to let you know what you are missing out on depending on what fantasy Tight End you take and when.

Tight end #1 (undisputed this season)

Travis Kelce ADP 20

Travis Kelce has been as consistent as they come over the last 3 seasons as a fantasy asset, finishing the last three seasons as fantasy TE #1, #2, and #1.  He’s playing with the QB1 in fantasy this season in an Andy Reid offense that he knows better than anyone, and he is the undisputed TE1. If you draft him, you are missing out on the Damien Williams and Melvin Gordon.

The consistency of Kelce is superior to both Williams ADP 19 and Gordon ADP 21.  Andy Reid is obviously upset that Williams isn’t at practice and Gordon has his heels dug in with his contract dispute.  Yes, please give us Travis Kelce’s 1336 yards and 10 TD stat line from last season.  It’s very close to Deandre Hopkins 1572 and 11 TD and he’s going with an ADP of #7.

Tight End #2

George Kittle ADP 36

In 2018 Chuck Helmke set the world record for having 97.5% of his body covered in tattoos.  He now holds the record for being the most tatted senior citizen in the world.  In the same year George Kittle set the all-time record for receiving yards by a tight end.  It should also be mentioned that Chuck holds a record for most skull tattoos and that George Kittle set his record with QB’s named Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard.  Kittle should improve from his 5 TDs playing with a competent QB.  We like his ability to challenge Kelce for that top spot more than Ertz as San Francisco should be an offense that runs through Garoppalo and George Kittle. If you draft him, you are missing out on Josh Jacobs ADP 35 and Marc Ingram ADP 37.

People can’t be serious with these ADPs.  Are they really going to take a guy who has never played an NFL snap on a bad team and a 30-year-old backup on a new team over a guy who set the world record for yards by a tight end?!  I would say that’s insane, but we live in a world where people count skull tattoos on senior citizens naked.  

Tight End #3

Zack Ertz ADP 40

If Kittle led the world in yards, then Ertz led the world in targets.  He saw a record of 156 targets last season on a good offense who now has their starting QB back in the fold.  It should also be mentioned that the Eagles are starting with new addition DeSean Jackson, a healthy Alshon Jeffrey, and even competition from a rookie TE in Dallas Goedert who the Eagles took in the 2nd round.  The new competition for targets could mean that a regression is in store for Ertz.

If you draft him, you are missing out on Stefon Diggs and Phillip Lindsay.  Diggs had a stat line of 102/1021/9 compared to Ertz 116/1163/8.  The production is very similar, but Diggs finished the season on fire and has far less competition than Ertz for targets this season.  Phillip Lyndsay has his own Royce Freeman Theo Riddick carry concerns so Ertz should probably go before Lyndsay.

Tight End #4

Evan Engram ADP 62

Last year Even Engram was considered a draft day value coming off a rookie campaign where he had 722 receiving yards and 64 receptions.  Last year he missed some time due to injury but bounced back by catching 320 yards in the last 4 games that OJB didn’t play because he quit on the team.  This offense has gone through Engram before and it will go through him again. With Golden Tate missing the first four games and the injuries to Cory Colmean and Sterling Shepard look for this offense to go through Engram and get his fantasy owners off to a hot start in 2019. If you draft him, you are missing out on Larmar Miller ADP 61 and Darrius Guice ADP 63.

Lamar Miller is currently a real value with D’onta Forman being sent down the road.  Yet again he gets to be a plodding backup on a great team.  However, Evan Engram should be drafted before anyone thinks about drafting the already injured Derris Guice on a horrible football team.

Tight End #4

OJ Howard ADP 59

OJ Howard is getting plenty of steam after finishing as TE 14 last season in which he missed 6 games.  It was the 2nd consecutive season in his young career that he’s been injured. However, on the days OJ is healthy enough to make it to the field he has been consistent and efficient.  Now he gets to play in a new Bruce Arians offense, and he will not have to fight Adam Humphries or DeSean Jackson for targets. It should also be mentioned that he is playing with Jameis Winston who is a below avg league QB and he has competition at the position in Cameron Brate who played through a torn labrum and still led the team in TD’s last year. If you draft him, you are missing out on Kenyon Drake ADP 58 and Tyler Boyd ADP 60.

Kenyon Drake is in serious danger of losing his starting spot to Karen Ballage as they are now listed as co-starters.  Still, this is too high for OJ Howard.  Surely Tyler Boyd is a better pick coming off a 1000 yard season and AJ Green already missing games this season.

Tight End #5

Hunter Henry ADP 66

Hunter Henry is another guy who is having his statistics extrapolated over 16 games when he’s never been able to play 16 games.  To put it in perspective Antonio Gates caught more TD’s in his NFL than Hunter Henry has caught passes.  Keenan Allen is option #1 and Mike Williams is a big guy in this offense that can catch both TD’s and the underneath passes.  If you draft him, you are missing out on Rashaad Penny ADP 65 and Baker Mayfield. 

The reports out of Seattle are that Chris Carson is the man to own in that offense.  Also, no one should take a chance on Baker Mayfield this early.  Hunter Henry seems like a reasonable pick, but keep in mind that there are guys like Alshon, Landry, and James White in this round that should be drafted before Henry.

Tight End #5

Eric Ebron ADP 77

Las year Ebron caught 13 TDs and he still gets to play with Andrew Luck.  He’s always had good athleticism and there were times last year when he was the tight end that you wanted to own.  Now he’s being drafted well after players that have never achieved this kind of success such as Henry and Howard.  The reason for this decline is there is no way a player should be able to get 13TD’s from 750 yards.  Also, Jack Doyle is back this year and he caught 80 balls in 2017 and many consider Doyle to be the starter over Ebron.  Also, it should be mentioned that Luck is currently not practicing and without him neither Ebron or Doyle are draft able. If you draft him, you are missing out on Latavius Murray ADP 76 or Dante Pettis ADP 78.

The upside of what Ebron could do in the end zone makes him a reasonable pick behind a timeshare back in Murray and a Dante Pettis who might be locked in as an outside WR.  However, players like Jordan Howard, Will Fuller and Allen Robinson offer similar upside and avoid some of the risks.

Tight End #6

Jared Cook ADP 82

Last year Jared Cook led the Raiders offense in receiving by putting up a line of 68/896/6 and now he gets to play with Drew Brees in the high powered Saints offense.  Last season was an enigma for Cook.  He’s been in the league for a decade and has been one of the easier people for teams to cut.  Brees has lost some are strength and Cooks is a posession WR.  Also, the Saints haven’t had a fantasy relevant TE since Jimmy Graham and they didn’t seem to value him either.  It would be surprising to see Jared Cook put up anything close to what he did last year. If you draft him, you are missing out on Allen Robison or Carson Wentz.

Allen Robinson possesses the talent and opportunity to be a game changer and Carson Wentz has more weapons than ever. Furthermore, Miles Sanders is going after Wentz and he has the rookie upside that could win a league.  Jared Cook is not the sexy pick that his owners will think that he is. 

Tight end #7

Vance McDonald ADP 86

Now we are getting to some real value.  Vance is an athletic freak who set career height in targets, receptions, and yards last season.  This is a Big Ben offense that has lost receptions from Antonio Brown, Leveon Bell, and the Outlaw Jesse James.  Look for Vance McDonald to pick up a lot of these vacated receptions. If you draft him, you are missing out on Christian Kirk ADP 85 and Austin Ekeler ADP 87

Christian Kirk and Austin Ekeler who cares?  Star Trek hasn’t been relevant for a long time and Austin Ekeler is a 3rd string RB if Melvin decides to provide for his family this season.

Tight end #8

David Njoku ADP 93

There is still more value to be had in the later rounds.  Njoku in his 3rd season easily has the upside of Henry or Howard playing in a high-powered offense with an elite NFL frame.  He caught 56 balls for 639 yards last season on 88 targets and contoured his upward trajectory. There are a lot of mouths to feed with Landry and OBJ and NJoku’s draft value is taking a hit because of it.  If you draft him, you are missing out on Marvin Jones APD 95 and Geronimo Allison ADP 97

If you need a TE at this spot you could do worse than Njoku. The people drafted around him are shots in the dark.  You aren’t missing out on anything here.

After these first 8 TE’s Trey Burton, Delanie Walker, Austin Hooper, and Greg Olsen are available for nothing.  If you aren’t able to get Kelce, Kittle, or Ertz waiting on one of these guys might be the course of action to take.  Tre plays on a great offense, Delanie has been super consistent, Austin just needs some end zone looks, and Greg Olsen has been exceptional when he plays.  Please don’t think that you need to reach for a Jared Cook, OJ Howard, or a Hunter Henry.