Fantasy Draft Stock Report: Don't trust the consensus on these six tight ends

The following are tight ends whom I have ranked significantly higher and lower compared to their ADP (average draft position). I’ve also done the same thing for running backs and for quarterbacks.

STOCK UP (I like more than ADP)

O.J. Howard (My Rank=TE3 vs. ADP=TE4)

This is just one spot off ADP by position, but having Howard ahead of Zach Ertz probably qualifies him here. Howard needs to prove he can stay healthy, but he’s so clearly a star in the making, producing the third-most yards per route run (behind only Travis Kelce and George Kittle) among tight ends as a sophomore last season. New coach Bruce Arians doesn’t have a history of throwing to TEs, but he’s never had an option like Howard, and few QBs love targeting the position as much as Jameis Winston. Howard is looking at a huge jump in workload with Tampa Bay losing DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries during the offseason, and Cameron Brate should no longer steal many snaps. There’s a ton of touchdown potential here, and it wouldn’t surprise at all if Howard entered 2020 atop tight end draft boards.

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Vance McDonald (My Rank=TE7 vs. ADP=TE10)

Similarly to Howard, McDonald is a strong athlete with past durability concerns who’s looking at a big increase in targets with teammates (Antonio Brown and Jesse James in this case) departing during the offseason. The Steelers were the most pass-happy team in football last year, and the loss of Brown and his 168 targets (and 15 TDs) shouldn’t be understated, as McDonald is about to become a lot busier. He’s no sleeper, but McDonald is still being undervalued in drafts.

Steelers tight end Vance McDonald could grab a lot of the targets up for grabs in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald could grab a lot of the targets up for grabs in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Mark Andrews (My Rank=TE8 vs. ADP=TE14)

Few players have received more glowing offseason reports than Andrews, who’s emerging as the favorite to be Baltimore’s No. 1 target in the passing game. The Ravens are no doubt going to be among the run-heaviest teams in the NFL, but he’s also set up to lead his team in target share unlike many other tight ends around the league. Typically one of the toughest positions to learn as a rookie, Andrews finished second among tight ends last year in yards per target (11.0) and Passer Rating (124.8) and was fourth-best both in fantasy points per target and in yards per route run (just ahead of Ertz). Let’s see what he does in Year 2 with an improved Lamar Jackson throwing to him.

Others I like more than consensus: Gerald Everett, Darren Waller, Jordan Thomas, Ben Watson

STOCK DOWN (I like less than ADP)

Zach Ertz (My Rank=TE4 vs. ADP=TE3)

He just set the NFL record for catches by a tight end, but it’s tough to expect anything close to a repeat. Ertz averaged 831 yards (and five TDs) over his previous three seasons, which seems like a reasonable projection for 2019. The Eagles have a deep receiving corps, including another tight end who’s currently being drafted as a top-15 option in NFFC leagues, as Dallas Goedert is too good not to see the field more. Philadelphia runs an innovative offense, and Ertz should have a fine season, but I’m expecting a step back and view him as a tier below Kelce and Kittle. Don’t just draft last year’s stats.

Eric Ebron (My Rank=TE14 vs. ADP=TE8)

Fresh off scoring a whopping 14 touchdowns (including a rushing TD) and playing with a QB who loves throwing to tight ends, it feels weird ranking Ebron so low, but there were red flags even before the very real possibility of Andrew Luck missing time this season. When both players were active last year, Jack Doyle saw more than twice as many snaps and out-targeted Ebron 32 to 22. It was never wise to chase last year’s touchdowns at Ebron’s inflated price, but now he’s someone to actively avoid with Luck’s status so unclear.

T.J. Hockenson (My Rank=TE28 vs. ADP=TE19)

Rookie tight ends simply rarely make fantasy impacts, and we should expect nothing less from one playing for a slow Lions team (Detroit ranked 29th in pace in neutral situations last season) that’s going to feature the run while also employing two strong WR options (including in the red zone). The rookie is even slated to open the year behind Jesse James on the TE depth chart. Hockenson is a fine dynasty investment, but otherwise take a flier on Gerald Everett or Darren Waller instead.

Others I like less than consensus: Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton, Greg Olsen, Jason Witten

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