The difference in strategy between fantasy football seasons is usually very minimal. Last season we watched WRs become scoring machines & Running Back By Committee (RBBC) making running backs point scavengers. We also saw the hybrid TE make a leap in usage & scoring. Last year more Tight Ends scored more points than ever. This year I expect it to drop drastically.
The normal scoring monsters are going to be hamstrung by injuries.
- Rob Gronkowski is a year older with a brace on every joint.
- Tyler Eifert was expected to be back week 1 but now we’re looking at week 4. His surgery was worse than reported.
- Jordan Reed averages 11 games a season.
The other variable I foresee is teams not utilizing the tight end as much in first & second down passing situations. I also predict a downtick in Red zone targets. The last 4 weeks of 2015 TEs were covered well (unless you were Kam Chancellor.) Teams are finding what I call a fatback, a player who can run like a DB but tall & heavy like a LB. Teams substitute this player like a nickelback & he is effective.
So what do we do?
The answer is patience my friends. Wait on a tight end as long as you can. While we will have 1 or 2 top-tier guys we won’t have the weekly gang bang of points we’re used to.
Here is my example. It’s the 6th round & you want to pick Jordan Reed. Do you want a guy that may or may not play a whole season or wait on a Delanie Walker / Martellus Bennett with a good injury history. The squeeze of an early round TE isn’t worth the juice. Too many chances of a bust or owie. Spend that on another WR or if in a big league grab a kicker.
I’m a mess ranking these guys. I’ve had three #1 ranked ends in the last two weeks. Once I ran my projections it showed Eifert as my #1 but the recent surgery news ruined that. If I’m forced to pick a #1, I would go with Gary Barnidge…… or maybe Delanie Walker. Both players look to be top pass catching targets on their teams & both play in a number of sets.
After those two, taking a chance on a Gronk, Reed, & Eifert isn’t crazy but might also be a waste of a starting spot draft pick. The idea is to find a TE that will get 100+ targets. Last year we had 9 ballers that fit the mold. The one thing you need to look for is the TEBC virus (tight end by committee). Coaches are using more two TE sets and rotating ends in & out like highschool WRs. This is a newer phenomenon & I expect it to get worse as the season & injuries start.
My sleepers are obviously Barnidge & Walker then Bennett, Jason Witten, & Niles Paul. Paul is an amazing pass catcher who I believe is better than Reed. I also see a ton of 2 TE sets in the Redskins future. Witten looks really good. Last year when Romo went down so did Witten’s numbers. Watching Dak Prescott use Witten often & effectively was a great sign of the season to come.
My losers are anyone who may get hurt… again & Jimmy Graham. Graham is a square peg trying to fit in a street gang & the Seahawks do better without him. I don’t really have any other busts because TE don’t bust, they get injured.
Know who you are drafting when you pick a TE. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking a high pick TE will somehow help you. Too much risk for very little reward. WAIT!