The Tight End Landscape and a MNF Preview

Hayden Winks
Rotoworld

 

Week 6 Quick Hits

Curtis Samuel cashed in his previous air yards for actual yards and two touchdowns. He’s a classic boom-or-bust WR3. … Chris Godwin continues to prove he’s worth a top-six weekly ranking at WR with a 10-151-0 line vs. Carolina. … Mike Evans’ 9-96-0 line isn’t so bad. … Lamar Jackson had the third-most single-game rushing yards (152) among QBs since at least 1950. … The Bengals’ offense this week was throwing jump balls to former seventh-rounder Auden Tate. Not ideal. … Russell Wilson continues to play like the MVP (295-2 in a road win against Cleveland). … Chris Carson posted 124-1 on 24 carries with Rashaad Penny inactive. … Baker Mayfield loses control (3 INTs) as the Browns move to 2-4. … Nick Chubb (122-2) and Odell Beckham (6-101-0) did their parts however. … Alvin Kamara played through an ankle injury, but the Saints still walked away with a 13-6 win over Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars. … Leonard Fournette had another elite workload (20 carries, 6 receptions) but touchdowns have been tougher to find. … Deshaun Watson could’ve had a huge day as a passer if Will Fuller caught any of his three would-have-been long touchdowns. Watson’s rushing guided the Texans over the Chiefs still. … Patrick Mahomes’ 275 yards and 3 touchdowns weren’t enough. He also threw his first interception of the year. … Tyreek Hill returned and immediately scored two touchdowns. Hill is an every-week WR1. … Division II NFL teams, Redskins and Dolphins, played in front of dozens of fans. The Dolphins are the true winners despite the 17-16 loss as they continue to keep their draft picks as high as possible. … Stefon Diggs’ three touchdowns should make him and Kirk Cousins happy, especially since they beat Philly 38-20. … The Eagles need DeSean Jackson badly. … Kyler Murray keeps making strides, and the Cardinals are beginning to stretch the field with occasional downfield shots. Murray is inching towards the top-five QB conversation. … The Falcons lost to the damn Cardinals, but Matt Ryan still had 356-4 on 83% passing. Reliability. … Devonta Freeman saw the most action he’s seen all year and picked up two fluky receiving touchdowns. … The 49ers remained undefeated with their defense limiting Goff to 78 passing yards on 24 pass attempts (!!!!). … Darrell Henderson had a few big runs for those counting at home. … Marcus Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill in shutout loss to Denver. Yikes. … Emmanuel Sanders left with a knee injury. … The Jets stunned the Cowboys, who lost Amari Cooper (quad) early. Sam Darnold had 338 yards and two touchdowns. … The Chargers lost to Devlin Hodges. They are not a good team with all of the injuries. … James Conner led the Steelers in all receiving categories and had a rushing touchdown.

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The Tight End Landscape

With six weeks under our belts (Monday Night Football is pending), it’s time to access how thin or deep fantasy positions are. There are quite a few quarterbacks. Running back is volatile. And receivers are starting to regress to a median projection. But the tight end landscape is the most interesting. Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz have produced but are their pre-season stocks enough to rank them ahead of the 2019 breakout tight ends? 

The top eight in PPR scoring through six weeks are Austin Hooper (108), Mark Andrews (93), Travis Kelce (88), Evan Engram (83), Zach Ertz (76), Will Dissly (74), Darren Waller (74), and George Kittle (73). If we swap Dissly, who is out for the year with a torn Achilles, for Hunter Henry, then I’m more than fine with these being the eight tight ends you want on your re-draft roster. The rest of the tight ends are comparable to weekly streaming options. Yes, that includes Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, Gerald Everett, mega-bust O.J. Howard, and semi-busts Jared Cook and Vance McDonald. Hopefully rookies T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant can make second-half leaps after showing flashes early, but otherwise, the position looks maxed out.

So how do we separate the top eight? Kelce has earned TE1 overall status with his multi-year production and because Patrick Mahomes throws him a football. He also has positive touchdown regression coming his way given his red zone targets and his yards-to-touchdown ratio. If there’s a tight end I want to “buy” in fantasy, it’s Kelce. … The debate for TE2 overall is interesting. I’m not dismissing Hooper, who is making a big fourth-year leap with a position-high 42 receptions on an 84% catch rate. The Falcons’ defensive struggles are setting up positive game script for the passing offense, and Matt Ryan is clearly favoring Hooper on intermediate passes. Andrews, Ertz, Kittle, and Engram are also in the mix for TE2 overall. Andrews is an awesome talent (10.0 career YPT) and is the No. 1 or No. 2 read on just about every Lamar Jackson dropback. Ertz has approximately 80% of the workload he had last season, which is still great. Kittle is a mini-Gronk, but he’ll have to remain hyper-efficient to hang in there with Hooper, Andrews, and Ertz in fantasy. Engram is a wildcard, who has all the athleticism in the world but needs Daniel Jones to revert back to Danny Dimes to reach his ceiling. ... Waller and Henry can easily make their way up the board, but I'm not fully convinced with their situations/health to be in the elite conversation. ... My rest of season rankings: 1) Travis Kelce, 2) George Kittle, 3) Austin Hooper, 4) Zach Ertz, 5) Mark Andrews, 6) Evan Engram, 7) Hunter Henry, and 8) Darren Waller. If you don’t have one of these eight guys, good luck.

 

Monday Night Football Preview From The Fantasy Football Worksheet:

Packers (25.75, -4.5) vs. DET

Forecast: Aaron Rodgers QB1/2, Aaron Jones RB1/2, Jamaal Williams RB3/4, Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR3, Geronimo Allison WR4/5, Jimmy Graham TE1/2

It’s now been 16 games since Aaron Rodgers has a three-passing-touchdown performance. Not great and neither is the matchup. Both offenses are below-average in offensive pace and Rodgers is likely without his top receiver again. Rodgers is barely on the QB1/2 borderline. … Aaron Jones deserves a three-down role -- just look at his Week 5 stat line -- but Jamaal Williams is practicing again after missing last week. That may be nothing since it’s nearly impossible to take Jones off the field after a four-touchdown game, but I will not that Williams out-touched and out-snapped Jones in their last healthy game. With that said, Jones has three-down plus goal-line upside in an offense that should be running the ball a decent amount, so he has a ton of upside as an RB1/2. 

Davante Adams has been ruled out, so Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison will be the primary pass-catchers. MVS has had WR3 usage for the last three weeks, and the Lions’ defense is in the bottom 10th percentile at preventing 20+ yard passes. Valdes-Scantling has upside as a WR3. … Geronimo Allison’s usage isn’t near Valdes-Scantling and Rodgers isn’t firing as many touchdowns as he once was. Allison is a WR4 at best. … Jimmy Graham had three receptions last week after seeing nine targets in Week 4. Graham’s usage is undoubtedly better without Adams and is a candidate for a red zone target or two this week as a TE1/2. 

 

Lions (21.25, +4.5) @ GB

Forecast: Matthew Stafford QB2/3, Kerryon Johnson RB1/2, Kenny Golladay WR2, Marvin Jones WR4, T.J. Hockenson (questionable) TE2

Matthew Stafford can still put up fantasy points in the right matchups, but going into Green Bay is not “the right” matchup. The Packers are in the top 15th percentile in pass defense DVOA and want to run the ball to run out the clock on offense. Stafford is a QB2/3. … The Packers’ defense is a run funnel (see chart above), so this could be a sneaky spot for Kerryon Johnson, who has 20 and 26 carries in the last two weeks. Johnson also blocked less and ran more routes last week than he was doing to start the season, so he should stay on the field in the event the Lions are trailing. Johnson is firmly on the RB1/2 radar. 

Kenny Golladay has WR1/2 usage, but it hasn’t translated to big stat lines yet. Golladay is only averaging 6.8 yards per target, which is far worse than last year’s 8.9 average. Positive regression should be coming his way. The matchup with CB Jaire Alexander is a tough one to beat, but Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were able to get going against the Packers last week. Golladay is a volatile WR2. … Marvin Jones quietly has decent usage in terms of air yards to start the season. Jones, like Golladay, hasn’t translated the usage to fantasy points and is due for bigger games. Jones is a boom-or-bust WR4/5. … T.J. Hockenson (concussion) is trending towards playing after a scary injury, but he has fewer than 25 air yards and four targets in each of the last three weeks. Hockenson is just an upside TE2.

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