Here’s a look at the Fantasy points for the top 12 TEs over the last four years in PPR leagues:
TE: Last year the top 12 TEs averaged 65 catches for 714 yards and six TDs or 173.18 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. Only three TEs scored over 200 Fantasy points in PPR leagues – Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, and Zach Ertz. Overall, the top TE options in 2017 had the lowest outcome over the last six years – 2012 (190.48), 2013 (201.03), 2014 (196.58), 2015 (202.68), and 2016 (181.96). The top four TEs averaged 207.8 Fantasy points. The top scoring TE in 2017 ranked 8th in WR scoring and 9th in RB scoring.
There difference at the TE position compared to the RB and WR position is that the gap from the 1st and 12th options tends to be wide leading to the top TE owners having a 75 to 100-point edge over at last four teams in the league in many seasons.
Observation: Travis Kelce and Zack Ertz have the best opportunities to have success at TE in 2017 while Rob Gronkowski remains an explosive threat thanks to his scoring ability and the right arm of Tom Brady. After the next three options (Evan Engram, Greg Olsen, and Jimmy Graham), the TE position starts to have plenty of question marks.
Both Tampa Bay and Indianapolis will throw a high volume passes to their TEs, but both teams have two good pass-catching options at the position.
I expect a couple of TEs to emerge in 2018 after round ten in drafts while at least four teams in 12-team leagues rotate their starting TE throughout the year.
TE2 or Flex Player: Almost all Fantasy leagues don’t use a second tight end in their starting lineup. I’m using this position to show the drop-down at the tight end position after the top 12 starters, and also I want to show their value compared to the other players that could be played at the Flex position. Last year the second 12 TEs averaged 43 catches for 478 yards and 3.7 TDs or 112.34 Fantasy points in full point PPR leagues. Realistically, there are maybe only 15 tight ends that have value in most seasons. Anyone waiting at the TE position could be digging their self in a huge hole as some teams will double up at tight end so they can play that player at the flex position.
Observation: The decision when to draft your first TE comes down to how you structure your team. If you wait at the tight end position, you are hoping to find an upside player that can deliver between 180 and 200 Fantasy points. If you miss on this player, you may end up with a starting TE that falls into the back half of the second group of tight ends which would probably deliver between eight and nine points per week. If you compare that player to the top three options in 2017, you will be losing at this position by eight to ten Fantasy points per week if the top players have elite seasons.
The average RB3 averaged about 146.67 Fantasy points last year, and the average WR4 scored 143.34 Fantasy points. The goal of each Fantasy owner would be to find a player that would beat the average scores at each position in your starting lineup. The target number for the first Flex position is 9.47 Fantasy points per week or 1151.55 Fantasy points based on 2017, which is why it is very important to know where the drop-offs are at each position. You also have to have a good feel for comparable values at the other positions so you will be able to make better decisions during the draft.
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In each draft season, the best name players don’t always win, and many players do not repeat their success from the previous season. Depending on your scoring system, it is nice to have a second tight end that has upside, and that player may develop into a viable option at the flex position. Just by reviewing each position, you will see the average player scores, and this will help you when you are making some decisions at the draft table. Everything is subject to opinion, and most decisions are based on stats from last season, so Fantasy owners need to separate themselves from what happened in the past when making decisions about future results. Many players will have a solid resume so we can identify where the strongest pieces to the puzzle are. To win in Fantasy football, you need to have a successful draft plus you need to stay healthy all season. It is difficult to dominate your league over the first two-thirds of the season and then have enough left in the tank to finish strong over the last couple of weeks of the season where championships are determined.
Each draft is about team structure and getting an edge. Some drafts slots are a lot tougher to have success depending on your format. In my years of following the high stakes events, there has been a common theme in many overall championship teams. Almost all of the overall winners have had one of the best tight ends in the league. I wrote an article a couple of years back about this, and I believe Tony Gonzalez was on the most overall winnings teams. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates were sprinkled on a couple of other winning teams. I could see Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz being on many future overall championship teams. Jordan Reed was the winning TE play in 2015.
If you play in standalone leagues, you can win without having a stud tight end because those league titles usually are determined by head-to-head matchups. I still believe the tight end position gets disrespected in many formats. By creating an edge at this position, you increase your chances of winning as long as you get the other positions right.
If you would like to see the full offensive projections, they can be found here.
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