Wild Card DFS Breakdown: Tight Ends

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Wild Card DFS Breakdown: Tight Ends

Hey there. If you weren’t already aware, you’re reading Part-4 of a 4-Part breakdown on this week’s Wildcard Weekend DFS slate. In this article, we’ll be breaking down all relevant TEs, after already covering QBs, WRs, and RBs.

Before digging too deep into the individual players, I did want to mention a few important notes this week:

1) On a typical full-game slate, I want to feel comfortable with every player I’m rostering. Ideally, even my punt-plays are tremendous values with high-upside. On a shorter slate like this (6 games or 3 games depending on which tournament you enter) it’s okay to roster a relatively “gross” name if you feel they give you a stronger lineup overall – allowing you to pay up elsewhere.

2) I can’t stress enough the importance of late-swap on these smaller slates. If you have any tournament lineups that seem unlikely to cash, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by adding exposure to some “riskier” lower-owned players.

3) In the TLDR, I’ve listed out the top TE plays in order of value (according to me). This isn’t super strict. And in some cases sort of arbitrary. But it also doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as most of my readers think it does. What really matters, and especially with this short slate, is that you’re building a lineup that’s well correlated. Or, as Johnny would say “that tells a story.”

TLDR

DK: Logan Thomas > Mark Andrews > Jonnu Smith > Rob Gronkowski > Cole Kmet > Eric Ebron

FD: Mark Andrews > Logan Thomas > Jared Cook > Rob Gronkowski > Jonnu Smith > Eric Ebron

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
DK: $4,900, FD: $6,400

Thomas has hit double-digit fantasy points in 6 straight games, or 7 of his last 8, or 9 of his last 11. Since Week 12, he’s been flirting with low-end WR1 production (16.8 FPG) on mid-range WR1 volume (9.0 targets per game). And believe it or not, he actually finished the season 3rd among all TEs in fantasy points scored.

With the lowest implied point total on the slate (18.25), he has Vegas working against him, but it should be a pass-heavy affair (8.5-point underdogs). And Tampa Bay is a fairly soft matchup for TEs, ranking bottom-10 in (schedule-adjusted or not) FPG allowed to opposing TEs. If you have the salary to pay up for a TE, Andrews is the better option on paper, but maybe not if factoring in ownership.

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
DK: $5,200, FD: $7,000

Even without Nick Boyle, Andrews is still not an every-down TE (like Thomas is), but he is seeing comparable volume. Since Week 10, Andrews averages 7.3 targets per game, 67.3 YPG, and 14.0 FPG. Unlike Thomas, Andrews definitely does have Vegas on his side, playing behind the highest implied point total on the slate (29.0). On paper matchups don’t really matter for TEs – they matter far less for TEs than they do for RBs, WRs, and QBs, but they still matter at the polar extremes (there’s a few of those matchups this week). Consider this one a perfectly neutral matchup for Andrews. But it’s also a soft one for Marquise Brown, which hurts him a bit comparatively. If paying up for a TE this week – and maybe that’s not the best approach in a week without Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle – Andrews is your best play on paper. But again, I think it’s far closer between he and Thomas than whatever ownership will imply.

Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns
DK: $3,900, FD: $5,400

Hooper saw 15 targets in Week 16, but this was a game Cleveland was down 4 starting WRs. Across his other 4 most recent games, he did score 3 touchdowns, but he also averaged just 3.8 targets and 28.8 YPG. Cleveland has a lowly 20.5-point implied total and Pittsburgh is a brutal matchup for TEs, ranking 2nd-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (-2.5). He’s not high on my radar.

Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
DK: $3,200, FD: $5,200

Smith has exceeded 32 receiving yards just once over his last 11 games. He’s caught only 3 touchdowns over this span, though he has seen at least 5 targets in 4 of his last 5 games. I think if you’re playing him, you’re basically just banking on him catching a touchdown. But maybe that’s a worthwhile gamble on DraftKings, where he’s only $3,200. He’s not a great play on paper, but he probably also shouldn’t be only $3,200. This is a neutral matchup for Smith, but the Titans have the 6th-highest implied point total of the slate (25.5) in a game that offers the highest over/under of the slate (54.5). He’s not a very attractive play, but he’s still glaringly a top value on DraftKings.

Eric Ebron, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
DK: $3,700, FD: $5,500

Ebron was dealing with a back injury, but got a full week off (after playing in Week 16) and is no longer on the injury report. So, excluding Week 15 (carted off the field), Ebron averages 7.3 targets and 11.7 FPG over his last 9 games. He’s seen at least 5 targets in all 9 games and hit double-digit fantasy points in 7 of 9 games. And this is a terrific matchup for Ebron – the Browns are giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs. (+3.7).

I like him more than Hooper and Smith at a similar price-tag on FanDuel, and more than Hooper and Higbee on DraftKings.

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills
DK: $3,100, FD: $4,900

Knox saw 8 targets last week, but this was just 1 of only 2 games he saw more than 4 targets. He’s scored 3 touchdowns over his last 6 games, but he’s also exceeded 36 yards only once this season. John Brown is back, but Cole Beasley seems likely to miss, and a banged up Stefon Diggs could have his hands full against an Indianapolis defense that typically sells out to stop opposing WR1s. Still, Indianapolis is a tough matchup for opposing TEs, ranking 5th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-2.5). That said, Vegas likes Buffalo a lot this week, giving them the 2nd-highest implied point total of the week (28.75).

Knox is viable as a punt, but I think there are better options.

Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans Saints
DK: $4,600, FD: $5,900

Over Cook’s last 17 full games with Drew Brees under center, he averages 12.7 FPG, hitting double-digit fantasy points in 15 of 17 games. This is somewhat noisy – some of 2019 is in this sample and he’s been heavily reliant on touchdowns for fantasy production – but these numbers are also far better than salary or ownership will imply. And this is a phenomenal matchup. Chicago is giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing TEs, and a league-high 27.8% of their team’s total passing fantasy production allowed has gone to TEs. He’s still a little too expensive on DraftKings, but I like him a lot on FanDuel.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DK: $4,000, FD: $6,000

On paper, Gronkowski might not stand out as an exceptional play, but he’s at least of the archetype that best lends itself towards GPPs. Over his last 11 games, he averages 17.4 FPG in his 5 best games and 7.4 FPG in his 5 worst games. He’s seen 6 or more targets 6 times and 4 or fewer targets 5 times. Like basically every TE on this slate, he’s going to be pretty touchdown-or-bust, but he also has really terrific odds of finding the end zone. He’s scored 7 times over that 11-game stretch, and the odds are surely better now with Mike Evans’ status in jeopardy (and even if he plays, a decoy-role is a real possibility). Evans ranked 2nd among all WRs in XTD (10.4). It’s a neutral matchup on paper, but Tampa Bay also has the 4th-highest implied total of the slate (26.75).

Chicago Bears TEs

Cole Kmet has played on a whopping 89% of the team’s snaps since Week 13. Compare that to Jimmy Graham (47%) or even Mark Andrews (60%) over the same span. Over this stretch, Kmet averages 6.0 targets per game but just 8.2 FPG. Graham, meanwhile, averages 3.0 targets per game and 8.4 FPG. Graham totals 1.8 XTD over this span to Kmet’s 1.4. To summarize, if you’re playing Graham, you’re betting on at least 1 touchdown. Given their lowly 18.25 implied total, that probably isn’t a wise one. Kmet is a much stronger punt option, and probably a top-6 TE play overall (on DraftKings). It’s a neutral matchup on paper.

Los Angeles Rams TEs

Tyler Higbee has hit double-digit fantasy points twice over his last 13 games, but he averages 9.6 FPG over his last 5. Gerald Everett has hit double-digit fantasy points twice over his last 11 games, averaging 4.8 FPG over his last 6. But John Wolford did target Everett 7 times last week (3 more than Higbee and 1 off Van Jefferson’s team-high 8). If Jared Goff plays, you can gamble on a ceiling game from Higbee, but there isn’t much evidence pointing to that happening this week. If Wolford plays, Everett is a fine punt. A one-game sample size isn’t super meaningful, but it’s not nothing either. The matchup is pretty soft on paper – Seattle has given up the 5th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs over the last 5 weeks, but neither Higbee or Everett are very attractive plays.

Seattle Seahawks TEs

A Seattle TE has hit double digit fantasy points only once over the team’s last 8 games. You can gamble on Jacob Hollister as a punt, but I don’t see myself going that route unless I love the rest of my lineup and he fits perfectly.

Indianapolis Colts TEs

Similarly, no Indianapolis TE has hit double-digit fantasy points since Week 12. The Bills are pretty susceptible to TEs, ranking as a top-3 TE funnel defense (26.7%) while also ranking 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to TEs (+2.6). But this is also a gross 3-way TE committee. Jack Doyle is your best option, but there are better punts this week.

Scott Barrett combines a unique background in philosophy and investing alongside a lifelong love of football and spreadsheets to serve as FantasyPoints’ Director of Analytics and Lead DFS Writer.