Rough one for us last week as Pat Freiermuth went down with an injury, Christian McCaffrey didn’t leave much left on the bone for George Kittle, and TJ Hockenson threw us a dud. But we’ve had a good season on the whole so far so we dust off, take a fresh look at the slate, and get back down in those tight end mines. Even with the bye week starting most of the good tight ends are available on the main slate so we’ve got a lot to work with.
As a reminder, here is how we separate the groups here. We do it this way so that you have an option no matter how much (or how little) money you have available to spend on tight end.
Top Tier: the safest and most expensive guys available if you want to pay up
Mid Tier: affordable players that offer the best bang for your buck
Value Tier: the bargain bin players that are risky by nature but can have the huge upside in terms of value created
Fades: The guys we feel are the worst value proposition that you should actively avoid
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
Travis Kelce / TJ Hockenson, Kansas City Chiefs / Minnesota Vikings
Both are great options in what should be a head to head shootout and both are listed in this article together - here’s why. There is a bit of ricing discrepancy going on that we can use in our favor. We love Travis Kelce as a pay up option whenever he has a great matchup because, well, he’s Travis Kelce. And on DraftKings he’s 15.2% of your budget while TJ Hockenson is 13% so Kelce is worth paying for on that platform. On Yahoo though, Kelce is 16.5% of your budget and TJ Hockenson is priced down as the TE3 at 11.5%. So over there we are willing to take the big discount to go Hock.
Okay, now, here is where it gets weird.
On FanDuel, they are leaning into the Taylor Swift storyline by making Kelce’s price $8,789 (Kelce’s number is 87 and she has an album 1989). That’s 14.65% of your budget which is cheaper than any other platform. Hock is also 11.33% over there though so we’d like to get Kelce in lineups but, if you need to find money somewhere, you can pivot down to Hock. You guys are serious fantasy gamers so I imagine you get the game theory here but definitely hit me up on Discord if you have any questions on this.
Folks are going to be off Waller this week and we are going to take advantage of it. The blurb for him on DraftKings even says some stuff about him “losing a step” and I hope everyone reads that and doesn’t start him. Despite dealing with a hamstring injury early on, Waller has a 76.4% route participation, 16.4% target share, he runs over 60% of his routes from a WR spot, his aDot is over 8 yards. Last week he was wide open for a touchdown on the pick six. Now he gets the Dolphins who were a bottom three team vs. the tight end last year and are 25th against the tight end so far this year. He’s 10.8% of your budget on DK, 10.2% on FanDuel and 9% on Yahoo so slight discount on the Y but good prices all around.
NFL DFS TE Mid-Tier Picks
If you are looking for a mid range cash game play, this is it. Zach Ertz was never a big YAC guy because he’s not particularly fast - he has only one 1,000 yard season in his career. But he specializes in creating short range separation which makes him an easy guy to throw to and that’s why he has multiple double digit target games this year. The Bengals lost both starting safeties, Jessie Bates and Von Bell, in free agency and they have been paying for it against the tight end where they are ranked 27th. Ertz is about as “safe” as it gets. And here’s the interesting part: on FanDuel he’s 8.5% of your budget, on Yahoo he’s 7.5%, and on DraftKings he’s 7%. Because of his playstyle, he’s one of the few tight ends that is truly more valuable in full PPR than half PPR and the full PPR platform DraftKings is actually the one where he is the cheapest.
This is a player that we are historically hesitant to use because he has a knack for disappearing at times. And that’s often to stay in to help block. The Eagles obviously have Haason Reddick which could be a problem but they also focus a lot on generating a rush up the middle so Higbee could be allowed to run free here. James Bradberry has been dabbling in the slot some this year so he’ll likely keep an eye on Puka Nacua while Darius Slay roams the outside which should open things up over the middle for Higbee. He’s between 8-9% of your budget on all three platforms so fairly reasonable.
NFL DFS TE Value Picks
This is your cheap cash game play. Is it sexy? No. But the floor is solid and the ceiling is the same as it is for nearly every non-elite tight end - two touchdowns. Any starting tight end can score two random touchdowns. Some backups even can. This guy did get banged up in the Broncos game but, in every other game, he’s played virtually every snap for one of the most explosive teams. And he’s caught at least three passes. The heavy usage of fullback Alec Ingold essentially removes the WR3 from the game for huge chunks which leaves Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Durham Smythe as the main characters. There is simply no other tight end in this range playing that much and giving you a floor of 3-4 catches. He’s actually the bare minimum price on Yahoo and he’s only $3,000 on DK. On FanDuel they never give us many cheap options so the rule of thumb is typically to pay up for TE on FanDuel.
Mike Gesicki, New Egland Patriots
The New Orleans Saints have been great against the tight end with guys like DeMario Davis and Tyrann Mathieu but here’s the rub - Mike Gesicki doesn’t play tight end. Hunter Henry does. Gesicki has run 92.1% of his routes from a WR spot this year. And his route participation the last two weeks is up from where it was to start the season - he was third in routes run for the Patriots last week behind only DeVante Parker and Hunter Henry. Henry might be a trap here and DeVante Parker will be squaring up with Marshon Lattimore. Meanwhile, Gesicki could see a lot of Alontae Taylor who PFF grades as a 46.6 in coverage, the lowest of any Saints player. In fact, of all players in the league with a coverage grade, that ranks him #477. Gesicki could sneak out for a couple this week and, at his price, that’s all we need him to do. He’s not a great option on FanDuel but on Yahoo he’s the bare minimum $10 and on DraftKings he’s $2,700 when the minimum is $2,500.
NFL DFS TE Fades
Some things you just don’t mess with. Just think about all the times Mark Andrews has faced the Steelers. Now consider that he has NEVER scored a touchdown against them. The Steelers have clearly made him a focal point and so far this year the Steelers are a top five team against the tight end. It’s not that we don’t think Mark Andrews is good but we just don’t feel the need to pay up for him this week with that in mind.
Falcons Tight Ends, Atlanta Falcons
A lot of folks are going to try to get cute here and start Jonnu Smith and I get it. But the cat is seemingly out of the bag now that Arthur Smith came out and said Kyle Pitts’s knee isn’t quite 100% yet. Even then, Pitts still runs more routes than Jonnu who, even in his big game last week, ran only 24 of 37 routes. This Falcons defense is a lot better this year than they have been in year’s past and Jessie Bates has been wreaking havoc over the middle so we are just sitting this one out. Hopefully there will be a day when Pitts is fully recovered from the MCL and Desmond Ridder is on the bench so that we can comfortably start Kyle Pitts.