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2018 ADP Throwdown - Trey Burton vs. Jordan Reed

Fantasy football draft season is upon us and RotoBaller is here to help! In this series, two RotoBaller experts will discuss the merits of two players with similar value and average draft position (ADP). Remember that situations will change for all players over the course of the summer and it may impact where they are selected in drafts.

This article comes from staff writers Steve Rebeiro and Kev Mahserejian, who compare two tight ends with mid-round ADPs that fall around the eighth round.

Perpetually injured Washington tight end Jordan Reed is defended by Steve, while Kev argues in favor of new Bears pass-catching TE Trey Burton. Who do you trust in 2018?

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Opening Statements: Who Do You Draft?

Trey Burton is Ready to Bring the Philly Special to Chicago – Kev Mahserejian

Former Eagle/Current Bear Trey Burton doesn’t exactly have the surface numbers to back-up his draft position but he is definitely worth consideration at his mid-round ADP. For the past four years in Philadelphia, he had been behind Pro Bowler Zach Ertz and veteran Brent Celek.

His playtime was limited to just 741 career snaps, which leaves us with a pretty small sample size to evaluate him upon. However, in the four games that Ertz missed since 2016, Burton was able to hold his own as the primary receiving TE.

Ertz was absent against the Bears and Steelers in 2016 then also against the Broncos and Rams in 2017. Burton’s totals through those four games are 14 receptions on 23 targets, 180 yards, and three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came against the Rams in a brilliant performance by the Eagles offense but nevertheless, Burton managed to score at least 10 points in standard scoring formats for three of these four games.

He is a stud just waiting to break onto the scene and he is being given that opportunity for the first time at the prime age of 26. Burton saw his playtime and usage fluctuate throughout his first three seasons on the Eagles’ active roster and is now ready for a full-time role in a Matt Nagy led offense that catapulted Travis Kelce to TE1 status. Burton is primed for a breakout in his first season as Chicago’s starting tight end.


Jordan Reed Has Overall TE1 Upside - Steve Rebeiro

Jordan Reed is one of the most dynamic tight ends in the NFL. Originally recruited to the University of Florida as a quarterback, Reed switched to tight end, had less than 1,000 total yards in his three years at Florida and was still drafted in the third round!

Reed saw his breakout year in 2015, where he ranked second in standard points per game among tight ends and first in PPR. Reed continued his streak as the top scoring tight end in PPR scoring in 2016 before injuries set him back in 2017.

At this point in his career, we remember Jordan Reed more for his injuries than for his play. But the man is an absolute force when he’s on the field. The head coach Reed flourished in still coaches in Washington. The quarterback has changed, but bringing in Alex Smith should be a positive for Reed. Smith’s favorite target in Kansas City was his tight end Travis Kelce.

As crazy as it sounds, Reed is a more talented pass catcher than Kelce. He’s faster, he’s more elusive, and he’s more dangerous in the red zone. Washington has a severe lack of proven pass catchers, and Reed is in line for a ridiculous target share should he remain healthy.

Obviously, health is a risk when it comes to Reed. But if you’ve waited on a tight end till the eighth round, why not swing for the fences? Reed has one of the highest ceilings of any player available at that ADP, let alone tight ends. The heights he reached in 2015 aren’t out of reach.

Plus, even if Reed gets hurt, Vernon Davis has proven to be a reasonable low-end fantasy tight end while serving as Reed’s backup. When you’ve struck out on hitting a home run, a single isn’t a bad thing. Davis is the single.


Rebuttals: Why Take One Over the Other?

Can Reed actually stay healthy??? – Kev Mahserejian

Jordan Reed is a monster of a football player but an absolute headache for fantasy owners. He has been consistently drafted in the top four rounds for the past few seasons and has not posted a single full season. The most games he’s played in a single year are 14 and the next best is 12. His other season game totals are 11, 9 and last season, 6.  It is not Reed’s fault that he is made of glass. He just should not be a detriment to fantasy rosters despite his relatively low price-tag. Reed’s game-by-game performances are solid, however, you don’t know when they’re going to happen given his yearly day-to-day status.

Taking Burton gives you a player who (in limited playing time) has been active for at least 15 games per season throughout his NFL career and is still available at a fairly decent price (around round). As a third-string tight end last season, Burton scored five touchdowns and finished as TE26 in half-PPR scoring.

He has nowhere to go but up and is basically a lock to finish top-12 at the position if he stays healthy. His only competition is Adam Shaheen who might have had an extra year to build chemistry with quarterback Mitch Trubisky but is not the as talented a pass catcher as Burton. Burton can be utilized in various ways for Nagy. Whether it be in the slot or out wide, Burton will have plenty of opportunities to provide a mismatch against defensive backs with his size and speed this coming season.


Burton’s situation may be more volatile than Reed’s - Steve Rebeiro

With Jordan Reed, the only thing holding him back is health. With Burton, it isn’t that simple.

Here’s a list of potential things that could hold Burton back this season:

  • A coach he’s never played for
  • A quarterback who is yet to prove himself as an NFL gunslinger
  • A new city and a new team
  • Talented running backs and receivers who could vulture targets
  • A backup who figures to see a good amount of snaps

On top of all of this, Burton’s sample size is ridiculously small. Burton’s breakout game of 71 yards and two touchdowns were both career highs. He hasn’t proven that he can be a consistently solid TE1 in the NFL just yet.

I will say that I am a Trey Burton believer, despite all of this. But he seems even riskier than Jordan Reed. There’s a lot of ways it can go wrong for Burton, but there’s only one way it can go wrong for Reed. Give me the guy with the proven track record, the higher ceiling, and the handcuff with the decent floor. Reed may very well win people some leagues this year.


More Draft Prep and Analysis

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.