2015 Fantasy Football: Tight End Busts

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With the 2015 NFL season less then three weeks away, it’s past time to start the prep work for your fantasy football draft. Over the next two weeks I will be finishing up my fantasy preview with a primer, rankings, sleepers, busts, and rookies previews for every position. Check the links on the sidebar for more position breakdowns.

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Tight end is similar to QB in that you start only one and after the top few options, there isn’t much difference statistically between the next few tiers. Last year the difference between the 6th best TE (Coby Fleener) and the 13th best (Zach Ertz) was less than 2 fantasy points per game. So if you don’t use an early round pick or shell out significant cash in auction leagues, than it makes more sense to wait and take a low-cost (preferably high-upside) option late in your draft or for a couple bucks.

Unless you play in a league with a deep bench, the opportunity cost of keeping a backup tight end on your roster doesn’t make a lot of sense. Outside of the top few tight ends, most of the rest don’t put up as many fantasy points as a middle of the pack WR or RB. The upside of keeping a 2nd TE just isn’t there as opposed to rolling the dice on a young WR or RB. For example the 5th best TE averaged 11.1 fantasy points per game¹ which was about equal to what the 24th ranked WR averaged.

So with most likely just one TE on your opening day roster, you can’t really afford to miss with that pick. Tight end is historically the thinnest position in the draft. There were only seven TEs who averaged double-digit points last year and there was another significant drop off in production after the 13th ranked TE. You just can’t find a good one on the waiver wire if your starter craps the bed. The best you can hope for is to find is a rookie who figures it out in the 2nd half or rolling the dice with a bum like Jared Cook after his original owner drops him.

Here is a list of tight ends that I am staying away from in drafts this year at their current ADP (average draft position). I am not saying that these players are total busts, just that they are being drafted higher than I think they are worth and won’t deliver the production you expect at their current draft slot.

Tight End Busts

Travis Kelce, Chiefs – I drafted Kelce in almost all of my leagues last year with either a late pick or for a buck or two in auctions and he was a pleasant surprise finishing 8th overall among fantasy TEs. His lack of playing time, targets, and touchdowns were frustrating at times, but that’s mostly due to the Chiefs conservative run-first offense and risk-averse QB. While Kelce finally has a starting gig, he’s still stuck in the same situation.

On top of that they finally added a legit WR in Jeremy Maclin who could snatch some of Kelce’s targets and offset the fantasy boost of Kelce’s additional snaps as a starter. I expect Kelce’s stats to improve this season and would be happy going into the season with him as my starting TE, but not at the cost of a late 4th or early 5th round pick. Kelce has only one decent season under his belt, may not be the team’s top option anymore in the passing game after the addition of Maclin, still has a QB who is afraid to throw downfield, and plays for an offense that was in the bottom five in pass attempts last season.

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Zach Ertz, Eagles – He was on all of my sleeper lists last season and I am still a huge fan of his talent. What I’m not a fan of is his groin injury and the vague timeline for his return², but even before his injury Ertz was listed as the 2nd team TE behind Chip Kelly favorite Brent Celek. Ertz’s current ADP of 68th overall is just way too high for a player who may not suit up in week 1 and may not start even if healthy. I would love to stash Ertz on my IR³, but he would have to drop 3-4 rounds for me to even consider it.