Fantasy football is a week to week game*, the object of which is to beat your opponent each week, thus showing those closest to you how vastly superior your intellect is.
One way to show off that big sexy brain is making the right move at one of the less glamorous but still crucial fantasy positions, tight end.
Nathan Jahnke of PFF fame recently wrote a great article fleshing out what I’ve been saying for a few years now, the lack of good TE options in fantasy pushes the value of the stud tight ends, the top four to five TEs, higher than players at other positions that may have similar scoring potential. Or, to put it another way, scarcity creates value.
*Yes, technically, there are non week-to-week fantasy formats, and that .0001% of the FF universe is fun.
|Rank||Player||Team||vs NerdBall||vs FF Calc|
|4||Mark Andrews||BAL||↑ 2||↑ 1|
|5||T.J. Hockenson||DET||0||↑ 1|
|6||Gerald Everett||SEA||↑ 5||↑ 17|
|7||Mike Gesicki||MIA||0||↑ 3|
|8||Kyle Pitts||ATL||↓ 4||↓ 4|
|9||Robert Tonyan||GB||↑ 1||↑ 4|
|10||Evan Engram||NYG||↑ 5||↑ 8|
|11||Rob Gronkowski||TB||↑ 5||0|
|12||Noah Fant||DEN||↑ 2||↓ 5|
|13||Tyler Higbee||LAR||↓ 4||↑ 1|
|14||Logan Thomas||WFT||↓ 2||↓ 6|
|15||Blake Jarwin||DAL||↑||↑ 5|
|16||Jonnu Smith||NE||↓ 3||↓ 4|
|17||Irv Smith Jr.||MIN||↓ 2||↓ 1|
|18||Hunter Henry||NE||0||↓ 3|
|19||Austin Hooper||CLE||↑ 1||↑|
|20||Donald Parham||LAC||↑ 10||↑|
|21||Dallas Goedert||PHI||↓ 13||↓ 12|
|22||Zach Ertz||PHI||↑ 1||0|
|23||Eric Ebron||PIT||↓ 2||↑|
|24||Anthony Firkser||TEN||↓ 2||↓ 7|
|25||Adam Trautman||NO||↓ 8||↓ 6|
|27||O.J. Howard||TB||↑ 2||—|
|28||Jared Cook||LAC||↓ 4||↓ 7|
|29||Cole Kmet||CHI||↓ 4||—|
|30||Hayden Hurst||ATL||↓ 2||—|
I’ve pulled out five players where my rankings are currently different to the fantasy consensus found at FF Calculator and have done more of a deep dive to explain why I’ve ranked them where I have. Or they’re just names I want to highlight.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (My rank TE1, Consensus TE1)
Nine points per game.
Nine points per game was the difference between Travis Kelce, 2020 TE1 in PPG, and the TE5 in PPG Robert Tonyan.
The only other player who comes close to creating a gap like that is Christian McCaffrey who, in three games, averaged 9.2 points more than the RB5 in PPG Derrick Henry.
Travis Kelce has been the PPR TE1 since 2016. Kelce is the right pick anytime after Christian McCaffrey has been selected.
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (My rank TE2, Consensus TE2)
Darren Waller is a fantastic consolation prize for those unwilling or unable to pay the price for Kelce. Over the past two years, Waller has cemented himself not only as a tremendously talented tight end, but he’s proven the apple of Derek Carr’s eye. In 2019, Waller had 117 targets, 46 more targets than No. 2 Hunter Renfrow. In 2020, Waller saw 145 targets, 63 more targets than the second-most targeted Nelson Agholor. Waller has finished as the overall TE2 in both those seasons.
Darren Waller is also in a fairly stable situation, as mediocre as that situation may be, so we don’t have much of an argument for his usage to change drastically in 2021. Waller should not see the third round in any format.
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (My rank TE4, Consensus TE5)
Andrews took a step back fantasy wise in 2020, and that has resulted in Andrews being my favorite value play going into 2021. Full disclosure, I believe Lamar Jackson is a good quarterback who also happens to be one the best rushing QBs the league has ever seen. I believe the Ravens are going to pass a little more and a little more effectively in 2021, and I outlined why I believe that in my Ravens team preview.
Andrews is currently the TE5 with an ADP of 5.04. He’s going off the board in the running back no-mans land portion of the draft, and he’s going after all the wide receivers who have even an outside shot of finishing inside the top 5 are off the board. This makes Andrews one of the last players I feel like can give me a strong week-to-week advantage over my opponents.
Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks (My rank TE6, Consensus TE23)
I have the highest rank for Gerald Everett amongst my fellow NerdBall writers, and I’d bet this is the highest rank you’ll see for Everett this season.
Gerald Everett transferred high schools as a Senior, and switched over to football from basketball after he found he wouldn’t make the new hoops team. Everett went to community college, then on to UAB (the University of Alabama, Birmingham) where he was so good (how good was he?), he was so good they shut down the whole football program after he played there for one season.
Everett flashed some tremendous athleticism in his four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and his role has grown with him seeing more snaps, targets, yards, and receptions each year. The Rams let Everett walk in free agency, and he was quickly scooped up by the Seattle Seahawks on a one-year, $6 million contract. The Seahawks also brought in former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron as their new offensive coordinator.
Add Russell Wilson running what many expect to be faster-paced offense to the mix, and Everett has the table set perfectly before him for a huge, huge season. With an ADP of 15.05, TE23, the last tight end drafted in Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, Everett is this seasons best breakout candidate.
Donald Parham, Los Angeles Chargers (My rank TE20, Consensus Undrafted)
If spending up for Gerald Everett is not your style, well then Donald Parham is the man for you. You know you’re talking about a genuine sleeper when Wikipedia is your source for stats. According to the online encyclopedia, Parham posted 85 receptions for 1,319 yards, and 13 touchdowns during his senior year at Stetson University.
Parham went undrafted in 2019, but he flashed enough in the XFL that the Chargers brought him onboard for 13 games in 2020. In Weeks 16 and 17, Parham caught 5 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers are not overwhelming, they may signal the 6-foot-8 Parham can play in the NFL. He also had the second highest NECC rating among tight ends last year, showing that there’s a ton of fantasy potential in him if he sees a larger workload in 2021.
With only Jared Cook standing in the way on the depth chart, Parham is a couple of good preseason games away from taking over as Justin Herbert’s trusty No. 1 tight end.