I am going to resist the urge to say “all of them, in fantasy football tight ends, are mostly useless and interchangeable,” and call it a day. Instead, we will explore three tight ends whose production will not merit their draft stock. Avoid these tight ends if you want a quality draft, they aren’t worth their draft stock.
Gronk gets a ton of draft day inflation because he is a physical specimen, a huge name, and annually, the best tight end. People look at the behemoth of a tight end and get stars in their eyes. They pull the trigger in the first round. Do not be that person. A first-round Gronk is eschewing drafting a player at value and instead focuses on the granular idea that he is the best player at his position.
Well, correct, Gronk is a hall of fame talent that offers you consistent production, and keeps you from the headache of the tight end roster churn. But at a first round ADP with Jimmy Garoppolo throwing him the ball for the first four weeks of the season, Gronk is not worth the selection. Jordan Reed has closed the gap significantly to the point that Gronkowski isn’t even far and away the best tight end anymore. There are so many players with more consistent productivity that can be had at that draft slot, and they don’t have a player who was consistently inconsistent throwing to them for nearly one-third of the fantasy regular season.
There’s a lot to like about the Coby Fleener situation. For years, Jimmy Graham, and then Ben Watson, reaped fantasy production from the Saints’ TE position. It seems, then, that one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets in Indy would be great at this role in NOLA. The only problem is that Fleener is just okay as a player, and Drew Brees has some of the best weaponry around him in his time in New Orleans.
Nothing appreciable has changed about Fleener’s situation going from the Colts to the Saints, both are high-powered offenses that focus on the TE, and Fleener spent three of his four seasons in Indianapolis as an entirely irrelevant fantasy option (3.3, 5.3, 7.8 and 4.2 fantasy points per game). Now players are taking him in the sixth round as one of the top half of tight end options. There’s also the matter that buzz around New Orleans calls Fleener a “work in progress.” The buzz around Saints camp is also favorable for rookie Michael Thomas and Willie Snead, and not Fleener. There are only so many footballs to go around in New Orleans, and Fleener may be the odd man out.
Tyler Eifert (TE9, 94th overall)
Even before Tyler Eifert’s foot injury, he was already going to be massively overdrafted this season. Scoring 13 touchdowns will do that; greatly inflating Eifert’s fantasy value going into 2016. There were a lot of reasons why Eifert’s production likely would not be re-created this season. The quickest way to see how much he would regress is his touchdown rate: one-of-four passes Eifert reeled in last season went for touchdowns. 25%! That’s a completely unsustainable rate of production, and his 52 receptions put him more in line
The quickest way to see how much he would regress is his touchdown rate: one-of-four passes Eifert reeled in last season went for touchdowns. 25%! That’s a completely unsustainable rate of production, and his 52 receptions put him more in line for four or five touchdowns, given the average touchdown production of players who had between 50 and 60 receptions last year. Right there is reason enough to stat down Tyler Eifert, but add in his injury to the mix, an injury that Eifert hopes to return from in weeks four through six.
He hopes he only misses half of the fantasy regular season, and he is being drafted as a TE1. Do not let the touchdown production last season cloud your judgement. Remember Julius Thomas?
Tight End is an extremely fungible position by definition. Their production is inconsistent and the nature of the position, where very few are started every week, make it easy to overdraft a player whose production won’t live up to his draft stock. Instead of snagging these players, go after wide receiver and running back depth.
Fewer of these players are available on the waiver wire, making their replacement level much higher (especially running backs). Tight ends bubble up on the wire every season, and getting one of those, and not one of these, is key to a good draft.