Quarter Season Review - Tight Ends

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Continuing in the same vein of quarter season reviews, we’ll now highlight our next skill position group: tight ends. Outside of top dogs like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, this is probably the toughest skill position group to predict and draft for. Now that we are five weeks into the season though, trends in who is the most involved in the offense are appearing, and we can begin to forecast on who will be able to sustain their production.

Quarter Season Review – Tight Ends

By: Ryan Hawks (@RyanWorldEater)
Here is a look at the top ten scorers in standard and PPR scoring after five weeks:

Standard Scoring

  1. Zach Ertz – 50.7

  2. Travis Kelce – 48

  3. Rob Gronkowski – 43.8

  4. Cameron Brate – 38.5

  5. Charles Clay – 37.8

  6. Jason Witten – 34.9

  7. Delanie Walker – 30.5

  8. David Njoku – 29.9

  9. Kyle Rudolph – 27.4

  10. Ed Dickson – 27.1

  11. PPR Scoring

    1. Zach Ertz – 80.7

    2. Travis Kelce - 77

    3. Rob Gronkowski – 63.8

    4. Jason Witten – 59.9

    5. Charles Clay 57.8

    6. Cameron Brate – 53.5

    7. Delanie Walker – 51.5

    8. Jesse James - 45.1

    9. Evan Engram - 45

    10. Jimmy Graham – 44.9

    Overall, the top three are Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and Rob Gronkowski in that order. Kelce and Gronk are no surprise, but it is interesting to see Ertz at the top. More on him later. From there, there is not much separation, with spots 8, 9, and 10 separated by a total of .2 points.

    Other players, like Ed Dickson, are the beneficiaries of one monster game. Just last week, Dickson exploded for 175 yards on five catches. This one game gave him 17.5 of his 27.1 points. Obviously, these rankings are still misleading, so let’s explore who is likely to maintain, who will trend downwards, and who will come back to life.

    Eaters Who Will Maintain Their Appetite

    A Surprise Number One

    We’ll start with the number one tight end in fantasy so far, Philadelphia Eagles breakout Zach Ertz. It’s not just Ertz’s raw fantasy numbers that stand out, it’s his consistency. He hasn’t had any games with ridiculous numbers like Dickson, but he hasn’t had any bunk games either.

    In his five games this season, his lowest yard total was 53, and lowest catch total was five. Yardage can be misleading, especially early in the season. Some fantasy players can become overvalued by a couple of good matchups, or busted coverages. A better indication of long term success is targets.

    This is where Ertz really shines. So far Ertz is the most targeted tight end in football, and it’s not even close. Ertz has 48 targets so far, averaging almost 10 a game. The next closest tight end is Jason Witten, with 38, which comes out to only 7.6 targets per game.

    To put Ertz’s ridiculous target totals in perspective, he ranked seventh among all NFL players in targets. Witten, the second most targeted tight end is all the way down at number 18. It’s rare to find a tight end with that kind of consistency, and shows that he is likely to keep up these numbers.

    If he’s on your squad. Don’t let him go. If he isn’t try to orchestrate a trade to get him, because he has a good shot at finishing as the TE1 this year.

    A Hungry Rookie

    The rookie tight end who received the most hype this offseason was Tampa Bay Buccaneers newcomer O.J. Howard. Many were skeptical because there are already guys like Mike Evans and Desean Jackson who would make it hard to get enough targets. Perhaps this was why New York Giants tight end Evan Engram didn’t get much hype, despite being the first tight end taken in the draft, ahead of Howard.

    Usually, rookie tight ends are not much of a factor as they adapt to the pro level game. Engram wasn’t doing anything spectacular, but has been involved in the Giants offense all season so far. He hasn’t had less than four receptions in a game this season. Last game, he set a personal best of six catches and 62 yards. There might be a reason for that.

    Last game, the New York Giants lost their entire receiving corps to injuries. Both star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and the old washed up Brandon Marshall are confirmed to be lost for the season. Second year slot specialist Sterling Shepard is day to day with his own ankle injury. That means that Engram might suddenly be the best receiver on the roster.

    Though it’s unclear how the Giants will adjust to these huge losses, there is almost no way that Engram doesn’t absorb some of the receiver’s targets, and remember, targets are the best predictor for production. Engram was already sitting at the number nine spot in PPR before these injuries, so he has a good chance to climb even higher during the season.

    The Bunks of the Fantasy World

    The Curse of the Bungles?

    One of the bigger disappointments in the fantasy world as far as tight ends go has to do with Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert. He has missed the last three games with a back injury, and there is no clear news on when he will be back. Even in the limited time he was on the field this season, he did not impress, managing only 46 total yards through two games.

    This injury seems to be related to the back injury that ended his 2016 season early, but now Eifert is starting to look pretty injury prone. Or maybe he’s a victim of the Curse of the Bungles. He only played in eight games last season, and only played two of five games so far this season.

    It’s sad because when he’s on the field, he almost always scores. In his eight games last season, he scored five touchdowns. In 2015, he scored 13 touchdowns in 13 games.

    It remains to be seen when he will be back, and whoever drafted him is probably pretty disappointed. He’s now only owned in 43% of yahoo leagues though, so he is definitely someone to monitor going forward. Once he comes back, pick him up fast, because his touchdown history is tough to ignore.

    The Curse of Dean Spanos?

    Ok well this curse is a little more far-fetched (maybe), but another big disappointment for tight ends this season is second year Los Angeles Charger, Hunter Henry.

    Henry was a trendy breakout candidate due to his great rookie season last year. Quarterback Phillip Rivers loves to throw the ball, and even with future hall of famer Antonio Gates playing alongside him, Henry was still able to rack up 478 yards and score eight touchdowns as a rookie.

    Since Antonio Gates is as old as a dinosaur, Henry looked to overtake him completely this year. Through the first four weeks, that simply did not happen. Henry only managed 96 yards and one touchdown through four games. He finally seemed to have somewhat of a breakout performance last week catching three passes for 42 yards and scoring a touchdown, but those numbers still don’t look very promising.

    The Chargers did manage their first win last week alongside Henry’s performance, so hopefully he can trend upward from here, but he is still on the bust list until he strings together a few more good games.

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