Fantasy Points Targets: Tight Ends

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Fantasy Points Targets: Tight Ends

It’s hard to win in fantasy football without drafting the right players. Fortunately, there are a lot of “right players,” and they’re available at various stages of a typical draft. It’s important to go into a draft with a list of players you want, and the points at which they might be available.

Our job at Fantasy Points is to help you with that.

Our Fantasy Points Targets series will highlight players we particularly like at their current ADPs (Average Draft Position). Those players might have legitimate league-winning upside, a rock-solid floor to help the foundation of your team, or might simply present a great value and are being overlooked. It could be a combination of factors.

For these articles, we are using all 12-team ADP over the last month from our friends at the NFFC. We believe high-stakes ADP to be the most important to giving advice, as the sharpest players in the world have been drafting teams for months and have set the market. Given the ADP we are using, the basis for these articles is PPR scoring.

As always, if you want detailed information about all the players listed here — and more — check out our 2020 Fantasy Points Player Profiles.

Player added to this update

T.J. Hockenson (Det)

Players removed from this update

Jace Sternberger (GB) — Sternberger is still featured in our Mr. Relevant article, but the second-year pro could be slow out of the gates after a prolonged absence due to COVID-19 put him behind the eight-ball in training camp.

Fantasy Points Targets: Tight Ends

Rounds 1-4

TARGET

We’re not specifically targeting the early TEs because it could force you to “draft from behind” at the other positions, but if the second-round RBs are all dried up and all the WRs look the same to you, then you can…

ALSO CONSIDER…

Travis Kelce (KC, ADP 21) and George Kittle (SF, ADP 24) — Kelce has been the top fantasy TE in recent seasons, and he’ll look to hold off challengers Kittle and Mark Andrews in 2020. Kelce produces like a WR with 80+ receptions and 1000+ yards in four straight seasons, and his FPG average would’ve ranked him as a top-12 WR in each of the last three seasons. Kittle actually matched Kelce in FPG (15.9) last season as he finished with 85/1053/5 receiving on 107 targets (12.4 YPR), and he was the only receiver at any position to average more than three yards per route run (per PFF). Kittle could be extremely active early this season with Deebo Samuel (foot) looking iffy for September. Kelce and Kittle are good targets at the end of the second round if you’ve drafted one of the top four running backs at the start of the draft and if backs like Austin Ekeler and Josh Jacobs are off the board before you pick in the second round. The third, fourth, and fifth rounds are littered with wide receivers with top-end potential so you won’t be playing from too far behind at wide receiver if you go with a RB/TE start in the first two rounds.

Rounds 5-6

TARGET

Mark Andrews (Bal, ADP 49) — Andrews’ best could be yet to come after the Ravens broke up their tight end committee from the last two seasons. He played only 44% of the snaps last season — Nick Boyle played 70% and Hayden Hurst saw 42% — but Andrews still finished as the TE5 in FPG (13.8). Andrews ran just 19.5 routes per game, which paled in comparison to the four players that finished ahead of him in FPG. On average, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Austin Hooper, and Zach Ertz ran more than an additional 13 routes per game (32.9) compared to Andrews last season. Andrews dominated on his limited chances, averaging 2.89 yards per route run, which ranked second to only Kittle (3.11) across all positions. Andrews could easily run an extra 5-10 routes per game next season, especially if Lamar Jackson throws it more than the 29.4 attempts per game the Ravens averaged last season (fourth-fewest) — Lamar said this off-season he’ll be running less. Andrews could see a TD regression after leading all TEs with 10 scores in 2019, but he should make up for it with more consistent snaps and routes this season. Andrews has the chance to jump into the Kelce/Kittle tier this season and he’s half the price in drafts.

Rounds 7-9

TARGET

Hayden Hurst (Atl, ADP 89) — Hurst is going to get his first real crack at being an every-down player, and he couldn’t have picked a better offense to do it in. The 2018 first-round pick is going from a Ravens offense that attempted the fourth-fewest passes per game last season (29.4) to a Falcons offense with the most pass attempts per game the last two seasons (42.0). Austin Hooper left behind a generous 18% target share, a 15% air yards share, and a 20% reception share for Hurst to step into. The soon-to-be 27-year-old prospect flashed big-play ability in his limited chances last season, ranking 10th in yards per route run (1.69) among 40 TEs with 30+ targets last season.

Hurst has the potential to make more plays down the seams and after the catch for Matt Ryan than Hooper ever did in his four seasons. Ryan raved about Hurst at the end of July after working out with him this off-season, “He is as athletic a tight end as I’ve been around. I’ve been fortunate to play with some really good ones — Tony Gonzalez, Austin Hooper, guys like that. Hayden is cut from a different cloth. He’s a little more athletic than both those guys in terms of top-end speed and change of direction, so his skill set is a little different from guys that I’ve played with.”

Rounds 10-12

TARGET

Jared Cook (NO, ADP 119) — Cook is apparently like a fine wine that’s improving with age because it once looked like the talented TE would never put it all together early in his career with the Rams. He’s surging later in his career with consecutive top-10 fantasy finishes the last two seasons with two different teams, which is no easy feat. Cook finished as the TE9 in FPG (12.0) last season despite averaging just 4.6 targets per game. He led the position in yards per target (11.4), which included a 14.0 average in his 10 completed games with Drew Brees last season. Cook also had an absurd 13.8% TD rate, scoring on nine of his 65 targets. He easily paced the Saints with 11 end-zone targets, besting Michael Thomas by five end-zone looks despite seeing 120 fewer targets. Cook also finished second at the position in slot rate (67.9%) last season, which is likely to drop some this season with Emmanuel Sanders in town. Cook is going to see a massive regression in his TD rate, but he could offset it by seeing more regular targets from Brees in their second season together, making Cook worth an investment at his affordable price.

ALSO CONSIDER…

Noah Fant (Den, ADP 132) — Fant had a difficult off-season considering the Broncos used three picks on receivers in the first 120 picks of this spring’s draft. The Broncos will be hurt more than most teams with the lack of preseason games, a fact that hasn’t been lost on GM John Elway, but Fant and Courtland Sutton stand to benefit from potential slow starts from Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. Fant averaged just 2.8 targets per game in his five games with Drew Lock at the end of last season, but he still balled out when he got his chances last season. He finished third in yards after the catch per reception (8.5) among all receivers and fourth in yards per target (9.5) among tight ends. Both Fant and Lock should continue to improve in their second seasons together, and the Broncos brought in TE Nick Vannett to handle more of the inline work to free up Fant to move all over the field this season. Fant should average more than the 23.1 routes per game that he ran last season, and he’s the type of explosive receiver with untapped potential who could make a leap this season.

T.J. Hockenson (Det, ADP 139) — We’ve been hopeful for a Year Two breakout from the former Iowa TE with a healthy Matthew Stafford coming back to the lineup, and it sounds like he’s back to full health heading into the season after some dominant performances in training camp. OC Darrell Bevell raised some flags in mid-June when he said Hockenson might not be 100% coming off an ankle injury that landed him on the injured reserve for the final month of the season. Hockenson acknowledged in mid August that he’s still thinking about his ankle, but he said his ankle is back to 100% health, which isn’t unusual for any athlete coming off a major surgery. Our own Adam Caplan wrote that Hockenson has performed well in camp and that he’s well ahead of where the coaching staff thought he would be heading into the season. Hockenson spent the off-season learning from one of the best as he trained with his college former teammate George Kittle in Nashville. Hockenson’s ADP dipped some over the last month because of concerns about his ankle, but he’s looking like a fine buy-low candidate since he has potential to blow up this season.

Rounds 13+

TARGET

Chris Herndon (NYJ, ADP 154) — Our Greg Cosell told us Adam Gase had big plans to move Herndon all around the formation last season after the 24-year-old TE had a promising first season with Sam Darnold in 2018. Unfortunately, Herndon played just 18 snaps as a sophomore, missing the first four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy before hamstring and rib injuries wiped out the rest of his season. Herndon averaged 10.2 FPG in Weeks 6-16 of his rookie season with five double-digit fantasy performances, and his average depth of target sat at 11.0 yards, which ranked behind only Mark Andrews among TEs with 50+ targets. The Jets receiving corps remains extremely thin this year so Herndon has a chance to get his career back on track. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s earned rave reviews throughout training camp. Darnold has certainly shown an affinity for his tight ends — when he’s had healthy and serviceable options — in his first two seasons. Herndon is the closest player to a Darren Waller type at the end of drafts this season as a late-round TE who has a legitimate chance to lead his team in receiving this season.

ALSO CONSIDER…

Blake Jarwin (Dal, ADP 155) — The Cowboys will give Jarwin his big chance this season after they handed him a big raise ($9.25 million guaranteed) and after they let Jason Witten walk this off-season. The ancient Witten ate up 75% of the snaps, a 14% target share, and a 16% reception share last season. The Cowboys also let slot WR Randall Cobb and his 15% target share and his 15% reception share leave this off-season. Jarwin will bring more juice to this already potent passing attack with his ability down the seams after he finished seventh in yards per route run (1.82) among 40 TEs with 30+ targets last season. The Cowboys already had one of the best offenses last season — they finished first in yards per game (431.5) and first in yards per play (6.5) — and Jarwin has the potential to make this passing game even more lethal. Jarwin has the ability, the opportunity, and the offense to make him an upside TE to target toward the end of fantasy drafts.

Irv Smith (Min, ADP 178) — Smith has a runway to take off in his second season as the #2 receiving weapon for Kirk Cousins after the Vikings traded away stud Stefon Diggs this off-season. Diggs' departure opened up a massive 41% air yards share and a 21% target share from last season. The Vikings aren’t exactly flush with great receiving options behind Adam Thielen, and Smith should see his opportunities rise like they did when Thielen missed time last season. Smith averaged just 12.7 routes per game through the first six weeks of the season with Thielen healthy. Irv saw his routes nearly double (24.8) in their final nine meaningful games with Thielen in and out of the lineup, and Irv ran slightly more routes than Kyle Rudolph (24.2) in that span. Smith played on 60% of the snaps last season with Kevin Stefanski running the show, and new OC Gary Kubiak will continue to run plenty of two-TE sets. Smith will still have to contend with Rudolph, especially in the red zone, but Irv should find steady enough targets to consider as a late-round option.

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