I still can’t believe it’s here - 2023 NFL football. Feels like it was just yesterday that we were dominating NFL playoff DFS and now look at us, ready to crush a FULL slate of Week One NFL football. The prices for a lot of these guys were set weeks ago and uncertainty is in the air so this is the easiest week to take advantage of in fantasy. So let’s not mess around and let’s get right to it!
Be sure to check out the rest of the NFL DFS Coaches and DFS Watch List throughout the week!
NFL DFS TE Top Tier Picks
TJ Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
Yeesh, what a nightmare for elite tight ends huh? Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle are all dealing with injuries and Darren Waller isn’t on the main slate. So, if you are looking for the safest possible option out here, it’s TJ Hockenson. After trading for him last season, Hockenson was peppered with targets - from Week 8 on after the trade he got 85 targets which was the 13th most of any player at any position. That’s a 130+ target pace. They rewarded him with a massive new contract. The rookie Jordan Addison could chip away at that target share as the season moves on but Hock should be involved this week at least and he’s the best spot to spend big money. In fact, with Kittle and Andrews not 100%, we don’t even have another elite option for you (see The Fades Section below for Dallas Goedert). Hock is roughly 11.5% - 12% of your budget on DK, FanDuel, and Yahoo so pick your poison for the platform.
NFL DFS TE Mid-Tier Picks
Those that know my work know two things when it comes to Tyler Higbee. One, that I don’t like him. And two, that I am willing to start him if conditions are perfect. Here, conditions might just be perfect. They built a ghost ship offense this offseason and Cooper Kupp is likely out. Seattle was also arguably the worst team in the league last year vs. the tight end and they didn’t go crazy fixing things up in that category. Higbee is more of a cash game play because he’s fairly boring but we can’t ignore the possibility of targets here. Just keep in mind that he will have an incredibly high rostership and, if we know the Rams have no one, so do the Seahawks. But at this price he should be safe and he lets you really get creative elsewhere. He’s slightly cheaper on Yahoo and FanDuel than he is on DraftKings but DK is also full-PPR which is Higbee’s best format so we really aren’t getting a GREAT deal anywhere. There are more fun plays later for GPPs.
I don’t care what anyone says - Kyle Pitts should not be cheaper than guys like Tyler Higbee, Dalton Schultz, or even my boy Evan Engram. Beat writers be damned, this guy is going to be a star at some point. I mean, he already dropped a 1,000 yard season at 21 years old. In any given week Pitts can pop off for explosive plays so I’m willing to take the risk here and hope Arthur Smith does the right thing. This guy led all tight ends in target share and average depth of target while being one of the top players in the league, not just tight end but PLAYERS, in yard per route run when lining up out wide. Let our man be free! He’s 8% of your budget on Yahoo, 9% on DK, and 10% on FanDuel and he may never be this cheap again.
If I had to make any play my “Pick of the Week '' it's this one. For a few years now we have looked at the physical specimen that is David Njoku and considered the upside. But he spent time with Austin Hooper. Then last year the QB was suspended. Now he has a legitimate shot to be a focal point of this offense playing with Deshaun Watson who, in terms of fantasy points per game for a quarterback, is third ALL TIME. This could be a shootout with the Cincinnati Bengals who not only lost 2022 starting safety Jessie Bates but also Vonn Bell across from him. In fact, Bell played 98.8% of the defensive snaps last year, Bates played 98.2% and no other player played more than 92%. This team is starting brand new players back there covering the seam where David Njoku can do a lot of damage. He’s annoyingly expensive on FanDuel but he’s a bargain on DraftKings and Yahoo. Get him in there.
NFL DFS TE Value Picks
This bet is honestly fairly simple - we don’t always need to get too deep into the weeds or the advanced analytics. This Panthers team has done something we almost never see which is bring in brand new starters at quarterback, running back, tight end, and all three wide receiver spots. We literally have no clue who Bryce Young will lean into, who the top target might be, who the red zone target might be. Adam Thielen might have been the top guess but he’s dealing with an ankle issue. In fact, DJ Chark has been limited too. So it’s worth taking a stab on Hayden Hurst here since he’s crazy cheap and the Falcons were one of the worst teams vs. the tight end last year. He’s 6% of your budget on DraftKings, 6.5% on Yahoo, and 8.3% on FanDuel so more of a DK play. If you need to spare a couple bucks on Yahoo or FanDuel, I like Mike Gesicki in this price range but slightly cheaper (he’s more expensive than Hurst on DK).
Rookie tight ends need VERY specific conditions to thrive. First, they need to be the top pass catching tight end. Then they need to be a top two target on the team in general. You either have a guy like Kyle Pitts that is outright that guy or injuries give you a little help, like when Odell Beckham Jr went down Evan Engram’s rookie year. Well, Romeo Doubs is already banged up and now Christian Watson is dealing with a hamstring injury. We don’t know who Jordan Love will lean into but Musgrave’s odds get better and better every time someone goes down. The one concern here is that Bears safety Eddie Jackson is a tight end killer - he's been dealing with an ankle injury but sounds like he's good to go. Even then, Musgrave is affordable on DraftKings and FanDuel but he’s the bare minimum on Yahoo so, if you play over there, definitely throw him in a lineup or two.
You want bargain bin prices? How about Cole Turner then? He made so much noise this offseason that there was speculation that maybe he could take over the starting job from Logan Thomas. Thomas has since returned but, after missing the entire offseason coming off another major injury, there might be room for another sheriff in town with this offense. The converted wide receiver has already said that he loves operating in Eric Bienemy’s offense where Travis Kelce thrived and, with Terry McLaurin dealing with turf toe, he could find his way into some wide receiver snaps. He’s literally the bare minimum price on DraftKings and Yahoo - FanDuel doesn’t usually cut us many breaks but $4,100 is probably the bet we are going to get over there. If Terry McLaurin does play after all, Kylen Granson is an interesting pivot as Jelani Woods is out and he could see some slot snaps.
BONUS DART THROWS
Likely honestly might be worth a play on his own. But, if Mark Andrews is ruled out, we throw Likely in a lineup. A lot of 'em. Last year in the two games without Andrews, Likely ran over 80% of his routes from a WR spot and was averaging eight targets a game. Can’t pass that up at this price.
FanDuel Minimum Price Options - As I’m sure you noticed above, FanDuel doesn’t really help us out much at tight end. If you really need absolute BARE MINIMUM priced guys for FanDuel ($4,000) the options really aren’t pretty. You could throw Jimmy Graham in a lineup and hope he catches a random touchdown pass. Or you could go with a guy that might not even play but has intrigued me going back to last year. The Chargers have a former QB turned WR turned TE named Stone Smartt that plays sporadically and made a couple impressive plays this offseason. Considering some folks will even (incorrectly) go with a guy like Donald Parham in lineups, this is a play I can virtually guarantee only you and I might be considering. Probably because he will likely get a zero but he quietly actually was out there in a formation to START a game last year vs the Raiders and he caught two of three targets so not entirely crazy.
NFL DFS TE FADES
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
There are certain players that are nightmare matchups for tight ends - Kyle Dugger is one of those players. The Patriots in general have been tight end killers going on five years now and it's clearly a point of emphasis for Bill Belichick. Feel free to start Goedert where you drafted him in your season long leagues but there's no reason to pay up for him this week going into New England.
This one is simply a matter of pricing - I can't pay up for Cole Kmet given cheaper options available like David Njoku. He wasn't particularly trustworthy last year down the stretch and that was when this team didn't have DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool. De'Vondre Campbell is a great cover linebacker so I'm just steering away from Kmet.