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Let’s Talk Tight End Valuation for 2019 Dynasty-Fantasy…

April 25, 2019 5:57 PM
March 21, 2019 12:03 PM
March 21, 2019 12:06 PM

Let’s Talk Tight End Valuation for 2019 Dynasty-Fantasy…

Are you bothered that Travis Kelce is ranked/valued somewhere between #1-5 overall on about every scoring system we are producing (all six scoring system comparisons)?

Worse than ‘bothered’…did you just dismiss it as being stupid and move right past it?

The Travis Kelce early ADP in 2019 Best Ball is around #20…ranging from #16-25 typically. About the range or worse in dynasty startups. So, why do I advocate Kelce as near/at the top the valuation for fantasy assets…well ahead of the main stream?

Four areas I want to point to as to why our computer models value tight ends higher than any other dynasty-fantasy rating service…with the hopes you will start considering tight ends with more enthusiasm as well.

1) The Math.

A little thin slice statistical comparison to consider: Let’s look at the average of the top 3 scorers (PPR, 4pts per pass TD) vs. the #10 scorer per game by position. Ranked by the gap of the top 3 average vs. #10 player (rounding per game averages)…

+8 fantasy points differential (top 3 avg. vs. the #10)  = Running Back

+7 = Tight End (avg. of top three was 17 and the #10 scorer was 10 PPG)

+4 = Quarterback

+2 = Wide Receiver

+2 = DST

+2 = Kicker

Tight ends are up with running backs for the position where the top guys tend to really give a great margin/spread away from ‘the pack’.

The #1 scorer’s PPG vs. the #10 scorer’s PPG, same scoring (PPR)…

+10 = Running Back

+9 = Quarterback (6pts per pass TD)

+8 = Tight End

+7 = Quarterback (4pts per pass TD)

+4 = DST

+3 = Wide Receiver

+3 = Kicker

Just going by the top two (above) comparisons (and there’s more to ‘valuing’ than just these numbers we’re looking at), you might say RBs and TEs are, perhaps, the most valuable positions? Usually, tight end is seen as 3rd or 4th in importance…and way behind RB and WR in all our ‘guts’ or what we’ve been ‘taught’ (brainwashed) to believe.

You’re probably looking at the WR numbers and wonder -- ‘should we go with a ‘WR zero’ methodology of disrespect to the WR group? There is some logic in dismissing the importance of the top WRs among the top everything at each position. However, you need to consider another value impact consideration…

Let’s look at the number of top 10 PPG performers at each position that didn’t play 15 or 16 games last season. What’s the benefit of having a great scorer…if they miss 2-4-8+ games?

The number of the top 10 FF scorers at their position who played 14 or less games (but more than 8)…

5 = Running Back (half of the top 10 PPR RBs didn’t play 15 or 16 games in 2018)

3 = Tight End

2 = Quarterback

1 = Wide Receiver

Running backs may score better at the top…but it’s a 50-50 gamble that those RBs will play 12-14 games in a season. And many of the thought-to-be ‘top guys’, in the pre-season, at RB are lost for chunks of the season and are mostly worthless in a given year. Plus, when an RB goes down…his backup comes in and does as well, sometimes better for fantasy scoring.

Top WRs, on the other hand, were right as rain and the top names were mostly names you’d expect at the top. Top WRs don’t miss a lot of games, but when they do…it’s rare that another WR comes off an NFL team’s bench and just steps in and is amazing in production.

Tight ends are even more irreplaceable. When a TE goes down, their backups are usually terrible. Ditto the quarterbacks.

The replacement value weighs in on the overall value of the position.

Thoroughly confused? Good. I mean to do that, to some degree, to show a top tight end is as good, scary as the top guys at the other positions. I don’t want you to think tight ends aren’t worthy of ‘top guy’ discussion based on the most empty phrase in fantasy, “Oh, you can get a tight end later?” Oh, really? So, you can’t get a running back or wide receiver or quarterback later? The statement makes no sense. You can get everything ‘later’.

The reason people say this ‘later’ nonsense, besides being brainwashed to say it, is because they love RB names beyond measure, then 2nd most love for WRs, then QBs and TEs. So, the ‘later’ is really code for, “I don’t care, emotionally, so I’ll just grab one because they all look the same.” Tight ends are second-class fantasy citizens because they are the position least sexy in football society.

We could argue the valuations of a top tight end over a top running back…but my general point here would be – WE CAN have this argument because tight ends belong in the argument. They shouldn’t automatically be dismissed. Getting the right tight end is a major piece of a great fantasy season…like getting the right everything. You can hopscotch RB and QB (and DST/PK) and to a lesser extend WR all year…you can’t, as effectively, find a golden tight end week-to-week if your starter flames out or gets hurt.

2) The Kansas City factor.

Don’t forget…we’re more talking about/focusing on Travis Kelce here and not any of the other top tight ends for this piece.

Being the TE working with Patrick Mahomes is a BIG boost (thus his terrific 2018) for fantasy performance. Ertz-Wentz, Kittle-JG, Engram-Eli, Howard-Winston – none of them have the QB boost that Kelce does.

With/if Tyreek Hill gone…Kelce could boost even higher. You think it’s bad…that he’ll be covered more? No, there will still be WRs to account for if Tyreek is gone and Mahomes is still Mahomes, and possibly leaning on Kelce more than any of them. If you could just ‘double’ receivers and kill them…Gronk wouldn’t be going to the Hall of Fame…or Antonio Brown or DeAndre Hopkins, etc.

3) The 2019 NFL Draft.

Great, unique quarterbacks are flooding into the NFL from college – Mahomes, Mayfield, Murray, etc. We’re getting a lot of choices now in fantasy.

Running backs have been flooding in, but the 2019 class is a pause, but we’re already pretty saturated with capable RBs for every team and then some.

Wide Receivers have their greatest, deepest class in history, per me, in 2019. WRs could be about to see a flood of supply mix up the market the next 2-3 years.

Tight ends? Not so much. Last year Hayden Hurst and Mike Gesicki were the #1-2 TEs selected. Dallas Goedert was the class of the group, but he’s buried behind Zach Ertz.

This year, we have one hopeful for an elite -- Noah Fant…if he lands well.

We do not have a tight end talent flood coming from college football just yet. Good prospects but not many great prospects, and, sadly, the great ones of late (Engram, Howard) have landed terrible in the NFL.

4) The tight end State of the Union in the NFL for fantasy.

Like I said, the great ones have landed terribly…

Evan Engram is the most talented upside TE in all the NFL…playing with ancient Eli Manning, and his coach likes lunkhead tight ends that block all the time. Engram spiked at the end of 2018. He might be on the verge…or a 50% snap count role players who drives us nuts.

O.J. Howard is teamed with a sloppy QB and, now, a head coach known for his lack of use of the tight end in his passing game.

Gronk is dying…has been for two seasons.

Ertz is great, but Dallas Goedert is better…and sits there as a sleeper cell risk to cut into or overtake Ertz someday.

George Kittle and Travis Kelce are about the cleanest top tight ends, with no depth chart or bad coaching threat, but one of them plays in a good offense the other in the best offense and with the best QB the NFL has seen hit the scene in a while.

If I asked you about any other position (QB, RB, WR), you could go 4-5-6+ deep in top names you like/love. You go about two, maybe three at tight end and then it’s confusion, hope, and risk. Travis Kelce has the least competition, on paper, for his top spot compared to the top names at the other positions.

In summary:

-- Take tight end seriously, including taking two TEs in redrafts so you have one for sure. You don’t need six RBs coming out of the redraft, etc., because you’re so over-worried about your RB2 spot. There will be fresh RBs to consider every week of the season because of all the injuries and rotations, etc. Not so, not even close, with the tight ends.

-- The tight end marketplace is low supply at the top…which makes them even more economically valuable at the top.

-- Travis Kelce has every advantage you could want in a tight end – offense, QB, low supply of greatness in his positional marketplace, a proven track record.

My perfect duo to have, somehow some way – Kelce and Engram for 2019 and for the future. I settle for Kittle-Engram, but Kelce-Engram gives me power…the current great and possible future great, and if I’m right about Engram…he’s a trade chip, a flex option, or ‘the man’, etc.

Kelce is to be worshiped in PPR…a little less so in non-PPR.

Walking out of any draft with Mahomes-Kelce...is pretty a powerful 1-2 punch. And fantasy experts would never touch either until the 3rd+ round in most cases. I'll take them 1st and 2nd depending upon the scoring system, etc.

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