We are now four weeks into the season and we finally have a big enough sample size of both tight end production and defensive production to draw some conclusions. Now is where the real money is made!   

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

Top Tier 

Darren Waller - NoTravis Kelce on the main slate this week and most other tight ends are much cheaper so, if you end up with the extra money to spend and want to go big, Darren Waller is the only Elite Tier option we have.  And if you are going to go big then you might as well go REAL big.  Since the start of last season here is the list of tight ends who have gotten more than 15 targets in a game: Darren Waller.  And he’s actually done it THREE times.  Twice last season and once already this season.  And after the game this year where he got 19 targets, Jon Gruden said he'll keep going to him because he’s the “best player that’s ever played for him”.  There are few players in this league period that are capable of that big of games, let alone at tight end.  If you want to build a team around Waller, you can get an advantage on Yahoo - he accounts for 14.6% of your budget on DraftKings but only 11.5% of your budget on Yahoo.

Mid Tier

Mike Gesicki - this week we are skipping almost all the usual suspects in the mid range for one reason or another.  Guys like Kittle, Hockenson, Gronk, and Logan Thomas are all banged up while Kittle, Goedert, and Noah Fant all have pretty tough matchups for tight ends.  If you want to spend up a little, Dalton Schultz ran 23 routes to only 10 for Blake Jarwin last week but Mike Gesicki at a little cheaper price feels like an even better value.  Geisicki honestly hasn’t been playing tight end much at all this year, as the tweet below shows, and with Will Fuller on IR, I don’t see why that would change.  As long as Jacoby Brissett likes him, so do we.  He’s pretty evenly priced on both DraftKings and Yahoo.  

Hunter Henry - Technically the Ravens have let up the most points to tight ends but they’ve also played Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and TJ Hockenson.  The Houston Texans are second while playing the Jaguars, the Browns, the Panthers, and the Bills.  Not exactly dynamic tight end teams.  Henry is playing a massive snap share and playing 59% of his snaps lined up at WR rather than tight end so he’s a pretty good bet to score this week and he’s highly affordable.  If you want riskier but less expensive exposure to this game you can go with Jonnu Smith but he has been playing limited snaps with his hip injury.  Both are cheaper on DraftKings than Yahoo and you get a deeper discount on Jonnu on DraftKings than Yahoo too. 

Value Tier

Evan Engram - Evan Engram has not produced yet this season after returning from injury.  We know that.  But, if he had, he wouldn’t be so cheap.  What he has done is play the majority of his snaps in the slot and get six targets now in both games (as well as a carry in the second games).  Now Kenny Golladay is also banged up and they go against the Cowboys who have been a bottom five team vs. the tight end so far this season. If Engram doesn’t do anything for you this week, he probably never will.  On Yahoo he accounts for 7.5% of your budget while on DraftKings he’s only 6.4% so clearly a better value on DraftKings.

Anthony Firkser - No player in this range is without risk of course.  On the surface, the risk here seems to be that Firkser only played 50% of the snaps.  But when you look a little deeper than that, his usage was actually pretty good.  The team played 100(!) snaps and he played 50 of those but 45 of the 50 plays he was in on were pass plays.  So he played 45 of 63 pass snaps which is a pretty good deployment. He also lined up at WR for 41 of those snaps.  So, with AJ Brown and Julio Jones still a bit banged up, going against the Jaguars who are one of the worst TE defenses, Firkser is actually a decent play at his price point.  Firk is 6.1% of your budget on DraftKings and only 5% on Yahoo so that’s the place to use him.

BONUS Dart Throw - Ricky Seal-Jones - Might sound crazy but, after Logan Thomas got hurt last week, Ricky-Seals Jones stepped directly into his shoes.  And I mean directly.  Logan Thomas typically plays every snap - Thomas played 5 of 67 snaps and RSJ played the other 62.  With Thomas on IR, it’s now the Seals-Jones show.  At $2,500 on DK and $10 on Yahoo, he’s evenly priced on both at what is essentially the bare minimum.  


George Kittle - Kittle actually has the rare “triple whammy” this week.  First, he’s already banged up himself.  Second, his QB is hurt so he has a rookie quarterback Trey Lance starting his very first game.  And third, he goes against the Cardinals and Isaiah Simmons who are pretty darn good against tight ends.  Sometimes you want to go against the grain but with a name like Kittle, plenty of people will likely still pay up for him without knowing what the heck is going on.  It’s just a bad bet even if he does score - sometimes people hit on scratch tickets too.

Noah Fant - The Steelers were a top five defense vs. the tight end in 2020.  The second best in fact.  This year they have held Dawson Knox and Darren Waller in check while holding CJ Uzomah to zero catches and Robert Tonyan to two catches for eight yards.  With Drew Lock playing quarterback against this defense on the road in Pittsburgh, it’s just not something I’m really excited about.  At all.