NFL DFS TE Coach: Week 1
Published: Sep 12, 2021
In most weeks, DFS pricing can’t come out any earlier than a week in advance due to the nature of football being a weekly sport. But that’s not true for week one. DFS sites naturally want to maximize their users so, in order to do that, they release the pricing early. And naturally, that creates an advantage for us.
Normally what we would do is provide two or so options for you at each tier:
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
But due to the nature of this week and the wealth of bargain plays out there, there are going to be some bonus plays mixed in there this week!
Travis Kelce - This one practically writes itself so we won’t waste a lot of your time with it. He’s been the TE1 overall in PPR formats five years in a row now. That’s half a decade. He averaged 23.7 fantasy points per game on DraftKings last year which is 7.4 more points higher than the next player available on the main slate. He’s a stud and that’s why he costs $2,000 more on DraftKings than the next highest player.
George Kittle - That next highest player on DFS platforms for the main slate would be George Kittle. For anyone concerned about Kittle being the top target, here is how FanDuel has the season total over/under yardage props for the three pass catchers in SF.
George Kittle: 1,100.5 yards -112 both O/U
Deebo Samuel: 875.5 yards -112 both O/U
Brandon Aiyuk: 850.5 yards -112 both O/U
So if you are scared of the other pass catchers, I suggest you head on over there and maybe place some bets on the over. If, like us, you are not, then George Kittle should once again be as safe as it gets if you have the money in your lineup.
Patriots Tight Ends - I wrote about these two players in full here in the Ultimate Tight End Guide so check that out for my full breakdown but here is the short and sweet: Henry is built more like Ertz in that he uses route running and his pass catching to make contested catches in man-to-man. Jonnu Smith does not have a history of making contested catches or making plays in man-to-man (in fact, Anthony Firkser had more contested catches and catches vs. man-to-man than him) but Jonnu is amazing with the ball in his hands which leads him to making big plays. Choosing which TE depends on how risk averse you are or not. Henry is safer while Jonnu has the higher weekly upside. But choosing which platform to create a team with one of them on is not as both are better values on Yahoo! DFS than Draftkings. Keep in mind that Hunter Henry has also been dealing with a shoulder injury so we don’t quite know his deployment yet.
Zach Ertz - This player is the mid-tier deal of the week, especially on DraftKings where he would represent 7.6% of your budget vs. Yahoo where his price would be 8%. The short and sweet here is that these prices were released back when there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding Ertz in terms of whether he wanted to play, whether the Eagles wanted him around, or where he might end up. And it turns out he didn’t go anywhere. This is the guy who essentially plays slot in this offense and he just had 72 targets in 11 games last season. At $3,800 he makes it hard to pay up for anyone else.
BONUS MID-TIER: Logan Thomas - This is a player who was as consistent as could be towards the end of last year and they paid to keep him around. This year I wouldn’t have liked him at his current price due to his presumed spot on the target pecking order but just yesterday Curtis Samuel tweaked his groin. If Samuel is out, what exactly is the difference between last year’s offense and this one besides the fact that they have a better QB?
Jordan Akins - In this range we need to create a narrative for a path to success. The Texans are going to be one of the worst teams in football. But guess what? So are the Jaguars. And last year guys like Jonnu Smith routinely made safety Andrew Wingard look silly out there. There are probably only about seven-to-eight tight ends who actually have a realistic shot to lead their team in targets or even be top two. With TyRod Taylor at the helm it’s basically Brandin Cooks, Jordan Akins, rookie Nico Collins, and slot guy Anthony Miller; not a whole lot of options. Akins has consistently been the best pass catching tight end on the Texans, but he split time with Darren Fells who is now gone. Rookie Brevin Jordan may increase his workload as the season goes along but Akins should be safe for a couple catches at this value point.
Juwan Johnson - Here is a fun one. We have no clue what this player could be in week one. Here is what we do know though. He’s a converted wide receiver who is now playing tight end, which we like. He played 29 snaps in the preseason at slot, which we like (Adam Trautman only played five before getting hurt and might still be banged up). With Michael Thomas AND Tre'Quan Smith out, there is some uncertainty in terms of target distribution, which we like. On the flip side, maybe they were just trying him out in pre-season and he could flop, which we wouldn't like. But when you are throwing Hail Mary’s in big tournaments, why not go with the boom/bust option and spend your cash elsewhere?
BONUS Value Tier - Kylen Granson - Last year in the Colts offense Trey Burton got the best usage for fantasy despite battling injury. Here is how that shook out.
Director of Pro Personnel Kevin Rodgers straight up told us they drafted Kylen Granson to play the Trey Burton role. Mo Alixe-Cox told reporters that Granson “looks like Trey Burton.” And Granson was a favorite target of Carson Wentz’s in practice before the injury (and we know Wentz likes his tight ends). With TY Hilton also out now, there are plenty of targets to be had if Granson can get the snaps.
Mike Gesicki - The reasons we liked Mike Gesicki last year were that Chan Gailey liked using “Big Slot,” Ryan Fitzpatrick was the QB for two of his offenses that utilized “Big Slot” and Gesicki was set to play that role. Now not only are Fitz and Gailey gone, but the Dolphins brought in additional pass catchers. On top of that, New England was a top five defense vs. tight ends last year and they not only bring most of those players back but also get Dont’a Hightower back who sat out last year due to COVID. Mike Gesicki is priced as if the conditions of last year were all still the same.
Pat Freiermuth - This is going to be a real popular play. He scored two touchdowns in a prime-ish time pre-season game and his pricing is rock bottom. Don’t fall for this trap. He essentially scored those touchdowns as a backup playing against the Detroit Lions team that consists entirely of backups. People think he’s just competing with Eric Ebron for the TE role but that’s only the start. He then he needs to compete with Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Najee Harris for targets. This is basically a guy that scores a random touchdown or doesn’t and those guys are everywhere. And the Bills’ Matt Milano makes life difficult on tight ends so it’s not even a good matchup.