Second Year Studs and Duds – TE
Nate Hodges wraps up the offensive side of the series by analyzing which tight ends are most likely to breakout and disappoint in 2014.
Second Year Studs and Duds – TE
So, which second year tight ends are poised to breakout as studs? Which ones will disappoint this season? Let’s wrap up the offensive side of this series with the versatile pass catchers.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati
Eifert was the most complete tight end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft and it really wasn’t close. He’s an athletic pass catcher that can get downfield and do damage in the seam. He also has the ability to line up and block at the NFL level.
Of course, none of that really matters in fantasy football. We need stats. Production. And Eifert was fools gold in that department as a rookie.
The talented former Notre Dame player made some “wow” catches during preseason scrimmages but those didn’t translate to fantasy football production during the season.
Eifert struggled as a fantasy footballer for two reasons. First, the depth chart was far from ideal. Jermaine Gresham was still a big part of the Bengals offense. Using Gresham and Eifert together is great for NFL football, not so much for fantasy owners.
Second, Andy Dalton limits the passing game. Dalton did have his best statistical season of his career. But he was so inconsistent it was a nightmare trying to project which Cincinnati pass catcher would be number two in targets behind A.J. Green.
Finally, Eifert just didn’t really play that well. He graded out as the 28th best tight end overall last season. That’s lower than two of the next three second year tight ends we’ll discuss here.
Based on my own film work and seeing Eifert in person at training camp a year ago I still believe he’s a very talented player. Many times we see big improvement from year one to year two and I think it could be the case here.
These factors make him an excellent dynasty prospect. After all, Gresham is headed into the final year of his contract. I’m just not sure Eifert will carve out a large enough role in 2014 to be a second year stud.
He definitely has some upside appeal if drafted as a late TE2. But if you take him as a top 12-15 tight end you may be looking at a dud just based on the situation.
New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants to pound the football with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill and A.J. Green will command targets. So while I think Eifert is talented and a breakout candidate, make sure you get him at the right price in your draft. The tight end position is full of these types of players for 2014.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Ertz and Eifert both put up similar numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2013. But when watching their film it was obvious that Eifert was a better blocker and that Ertz was more of a “big receiver.”
Ertz finished the year with roughly the same amount of targets but actually doubled up Eifert in the touchdown department. Many of the issues Eifert suffered from also plagued Ertz.
The former Standford Cardinal was in the prolific Chip Kelly “Green” offense but couldn’t carve out enough targets to be a fantasy football starter. There were just too many mouths to feed especially since there were multiple tight ends involved.
Unlike Eifert, Ertz graded out very well as a rookie. In fact he as a top 10 tight end with positive numbers across the board, proving to be a better blocker than most thought.
This year’s version of the Eagles offense will be void of DeSean Jackson with Jeremy Maclin coming back off of injury. Despite the fact that Brent Celek is still around Ertz could be much more involved this season.
Chip Kelly is a master at scripting offense to his playmakers. I wouldn’t draft Ertz too early. As Shawn Siegele wrote in the PFF Fantasy Draft Guide there’s no need to reach for any tight end outside of Jimmy Graham.
But Ertz is sneaking into the top 12 at the position with most of our experts here and has upside in this prolific offense. He could be the breakout stud at the position if things break right in 2014.
Jordan Reed, Washington
It’s pretty simple for Jordan Reed. He’s a stud if he’s playing and a dud if he’s not.
The medical concerns this offseason have to be very worrisome for Reed and the Redskins. He dealt with concussion symptoms for a long period of time but should be ready to go this season.
Still, one more concussion could be the end of Reed’s career. That’s a big risk to take for your fantasy football team. But Reed presents a big reward if he’s on the football field.
Even with the injury concerns he’s a top 10 prospect at the position this season. I’d be willing to gamble on him depending on the price point in your draft. The coaching change doesn’t change anything for me when evaluating Reed.
He’s a difference maker if healthy so I’d pull the trigger on him over the other “regular guys” at tight end in your draft.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City
Kelce’s rookie season was one to forget as he missed the year with microfracture surgery. He’s a player to keep an eye on in really deep leagues and dynasty formats but there’s really nothing to suggest that he could be a stud this season.
Nate Hodges is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and radio host for Tennessee Sports Radio (Saturdays at noon eastern). Listen at TNsportsradio.com. His work can also be found at TopTierFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter – @NateNFL