Overrated Fantasy Tight Ends

Jody Smith looks at five overvalued tight ends you'll want to avoid in 2015.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Overrated Fantasy Tight Ends

In today’s pass-happy NFL, tight ends are used much differently than they used to be, even as recently as four to five seasons ago. Instead of huge, cumbersome blockers being utilized essentially as sixth offensive lineman, many of the current tight ends are fleet-footed, extraordinary athletes who excel as downfield pass catchers.

Although those blocking specialists can still find work in the league, it’s those pass-catching athletes that the fantasy football community cares about. And just like there are two different groups of tight ends, there seems to be two contrasting opinions on just how to approach the position in fantasy football drafts.

Many people prefer to grab an elite tight end, like Rob Gronkowski, early to give themselves a huge edge at perhaps the thinnest fantasy position. While others like to just hold off until the late rounds altogether, preferring instead to attack more important positions, like running back or wide receivers.

Whatever strategy you choose to employ, recognizing upside and value are key tactics to a successful draft, along with avoiding potentially overvalued players.

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  • giveususfree

    I saw Eifert get taken 3 days ago in a 14 teamer at 7.04, 6th TE taken overall. That was a little nuts, this is a $100 entry fee money league too. I scored him just a week earlier in a 12 teamer at 11.9, 12th TE taken overall. His hype train is full steam ahead.

    • Jody Smith

      I love that approach. I think Cameron is in a very good situation in Miami. Have him comfortably ahead of Eifert, and you got him later. Well done.

  • Garrett

    Great stuff, Jody. I support your takes on the others and get your args regarding Eifert, but I respectfully disagree here. I’ll admit I may be a little biased in having a 95% exposure to Eifert in ~20 leagues, but I’ll explain (and I did my MFLs before this hype train carried steam).

    I’ll group your scheme & target volume args together, then address the comparative analysis.

    First, I’ll grant you there’s a ton of uncertainty regarding Eifert’s usage in Hue Jackson’s heavy, run-first scheme. History suggests his usage and talents will be restrained by it; AJ Green will assuredly get his targets (let’s say the 10-12 avg. per game in ’13 w/ no Hill), Hill his ~15 touches (let’s project 20) & 2 targets, and Giovani his 10 touches & 5 targets. This is generous. But even with these projections, Dalton has ~13 targets to dole out, half of which I’d reasonably expect Eifert to get. Run-blocking specialist Gresham garnered ~6 targets last year in this scheme, so the floor is set.

    Unlike Gresham, Eifert is a pedestrian blocker w/ exceptional pass-catching skill yet to be realized by a rookie season w/ Gresham (PFF’s already highlighted how difficult a TE’s transition to the NFL can be, so not surprising) and a full 15 games & 3 quarters off the field in his so. season. In that one quarter, you know he had 3 catches from Dalton w/ Green on the field. Small sample, but that’s more indicative of incorporating Eifert than not, and that’s not even accounting for his potential RZ prowess.
    Sure, Hue Jackson called an NFL-high run in the RZ 69% of the time; but, that’s based on Gresham’s presence, not Eifert’s. Same applies to every other season except the ones with Tony Gonzales, who Hue cf’d Eifert to (not saying he is). Point being, that stat is way less determinative this season.

    I agree someone(s) will have a dip or at least a constraint in target usage, but nothings suggests it’s Eifert’s. I have zero shares of Giovani, and I like it that way. Marvin as a late-flier? That’s a projection in a vacuum. Hue is on record for stating, “he’s going to be a huge part of what we do on [O]. I’m looking forward to him having not a good season, but a great season.” So when you predict Eifert’s usage on Gresham’s presence, Dalton’s limited arm (still 30 targets in this scheme), and AJ Green’s superstardom, it’s grounded on minimally relevant historical indicators; i.e., this debate really is speculative.

    Second, the best available alternatives in that ADP or later don’t have near the ceiling Eifert has. Delanie’s great, and will produce borderline TE1 #’s like you say, but he’s capped by his size in the RZ, an inexperienced O, and Mariota’s touches. Witten, too, is perennially producing TE1 #’s, and while he’ll likely be a beneficiary of more targets this season, he’s 33, lacks separation, and has Dez/TWill/Beasley etc., etc., to compete with.

    In sum, I’ll take Eifert in the 10th all day, every day, and would do so in the 9th if I know someone’s gunning for him. I’ll just draft Delanie, Gates, Miller, Donnell a few rds later for insurance. Sorry for the thesis paper, but I feel the hype’s warranted.

    Love the work, Jody, and wish you well this season!

    • Jody Smith

      Thanks. You made a well-articulated argument for your boy, and I just want to say that I liked him all offseason, until the value disappeared. While I may go in different directions, I always tell people “it’s your team. Get your guys.” If somebody loves Eifert, by all means get him. Too often we worry about metrics and money and forget that it’s supposed to be fun. The football season is far too brief, so enjoy it while you can. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Garrett

        Oh totally agree. I’m an Eifert guy, so what used to be an objective value-pick in the 10th or 11th is now a heartfelt pick for me in the 9th (if need be). As for taking FF lightly, I try! Feel we can invest and have fun when we “control the controllables” and rest in our preseason prognostications. Keep it up!