The tight end position has routinely been one of the most difficult to navigate for fantasy football managers. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is a first-rounder and has led the position in scoring over the past five seasons, but what happens if you don’t draft him? In what direction should you head?
Every season, we see similar faces among the top-five in the scoring, but as a fantasy player, you have to decide if taking one of those also-rans at their ADP (average draft position) is worth it. You just might be better off waiting on the position and filling it out with a late-round sleeper.
Though numbers from past seasons for some of the top tight ends look good and make drafting them in rounds 3-5 tempting, you have to understand they still have warts.
First off, the consistency just isn’t there. George Kittle and Darren Waller have shined brightly at times, but injuries and fluctuating targets have been issues. Mark Andrews is being touted again, but with Todd Monken’s new Air Raid offense and the bevy of new wide receivers, will he see the same target share as years past?
Even T.J. Hockenson has some target concerns with rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison joining the Vikings. You have to look at the running backs and wide receivers being drafted around those guys and determine who is most valuable to your team. Even drafting a high-end quarterback comes into play during those rounds.
If you find the juice isn’t worth the squeeze and the draft capital is too high, there are a number of tight ends who could shine just as brightly and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Dalton Schultz is joining Bobby Slowik’s offense in Houston, and with no clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver, he is in line for a serious target share both in and outside the red zone. Remember, the Texans are copying the 49ers’ offense, so imagine Kittle’s target share but better, since there is no Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk.
In Denver, the injury to Tim Patrick may help rookie wide receiver Marvin Mims, but it also should help tight end Greg Dulcich. We can expect more two-TE sets. And remember how Joe Lombardi, now the Broncos’ offensive coordinator, deployed Jimmy Graham with the Saints and Gerald Everett with the Chargers?
If you want to take the rookie-upside route, then ask yourself who is going to catch passes in Detroit for the first six weeks, when Jameson Williams is suspended? Marvin Jones? Sam LaPorta was brought in to replace Hockenson in the passing game and should be leaned on heavily.
If you don’t land Kelce in your draft, you don’t need to pay a premium price to have a strong fantasy tight end. The sheep will panic and grab the second-tier and third-tier players early, leaving you with high-quality receivers and running backs to draft.
Attack the tight end position late with a pair of low-budget guys, and you’ll cruise your way to the playoffs.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to Fantasy-Alarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.