Tight ends you should target over 28
Dynasty fantasy football is a haven for ageists. Everyone is always looking for the next big thing and superstars are often overlooked or underrated strictly because of their age. Conventional thinking says that you should avoid older players in you are rebuilding and acquire them when you are a contender.
You are probably thinking that I am about to tell you to ignore that thinking. Well, I am not. Not exactly, anyway. Perhaps a differing approach is merited when it comes to tight ends.
The position is so top-heavy that having a leader at this spot will separate your team from the pack to a much greater extent than most other positions. This is obviously due to positional scarcity. Despite fantasy managers’ annual excitement that ”˜tight end is really deep this year,’ in fact, it is not. Age is nothing but a number, and in this case, likely not the most significant number.
When speaking of tight ends, the conversation always begins with Kelce, and rightfully so. He has caught at least 83 passes for the past five seasons, twice topping 100 receptions. He is the only tight end to have multiple 100 catch seasons in NFL history.
Kelce is truly in a class of his own. He has been the leader at tight end every year since 2016, in PPR formats. 2020 was among his best yet, as he hauled in 105 catches, tallying 1416 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged seven receptions per game and carried a 25% target share.
Tied to one of the league’s best and brightest at quarterback, in Patrick Mahomes, Kelce still has a bright future at 31 years of age. A tremendous athlete, he made defenses pay after the catch with 641 yards after reception. A tight end who can create his own fantasy points is a rare commodity.
Youth be damned, Kelce will still offer you arguably the greatest positional advantage in fantasy football. This season, he scored 9.6 PPR points more than the third-leading scorer at tight end.
If the Kelce choice was a no-brainer, this one is almost its equal. Waller also topped 100 receptions last season, however through week 16, when most fantasy seasons end, he had 98.
His nine reception output in week 17 got him to triple digits. Waller will be turning 29 shortly after the 2021 season commences, but he too, like Kelce, is coming off his greatest campaign to date.
Compiling 1078 yards and eight touchdowns on his 98 receptions, Waller finished comfortably as the second leading tight end scorer. Though he trailed Kelce by just over four points per game, he still finished 5.5 points ahead of the next closest competitor.
Sporting a staggering 27.9% target share enabled Waller to average 6.5 catches per game. Another comparable figure between he and Kelce is the yards after the catch. Waller had 523 of them. The two, plus George Kittle, were the only tight ends who averaged greater than 30 yards after reception. Just a step down from the cream of the crop, Waller still brings a tremendous weekly advantage to your tight end slot.
Coming off the worst season of his career, choosing Ertz seems a lot less obvious. He is 30 years old and just equaled his rookie season for fewest receptions in a year.
Moreover, only 33 of his career low 36 receptions counted in a typical fantasy season, as the final three were week 17 totals. So, why target Ertz? First, his value has never been lower. A clunker of a season will do that to a player. Next, it sounds quite likely he will be given his walking papers in Philadelphia.
According to numerous NFL sources, the Eagles have received interest from multiple teams and a trade appears imminent. This can only come as a boost to his fantasy value. An interesting rumor is that he could be reunited with Carson Wentz in Indianapolis.
While both players struggled in 2020, it should be remembered that they exhibited great chemistry in the two seasons prior. Combining 2018 and 2019, Ertz made 201 catches for 2064 yards and 14 touchdowns. If he can return to anything close to those numbers, he will be well worth the cost to acquire. He maintained at least a 24% target share in each of those two years.
While his most recent season could be considered evidence that his skills are in decline, it should be noted that he struggled through injuries during the course of the year. Certainly more of a wild card than a lock, Ertz is effectively a low-risk, high-reward type of gamble.
While the Irv Smiths and Cole Kmets of the world enamor your league mates with their youth and potential, the smart money is on proven results. If you can get beyond age bias, there is value in the mature tight end market.