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Tight End ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward their owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll be left in the dust. Drafting the unexpected league-winning player is always a hard task and something more random than not, so consider yourself lucky if you found you in that position.

No matter what, though, there are always players who fall into one of those two categories at the end of the year and provide much more -- or less -- ROI than they were expected to before the season kicked off. Using a combination of ADP values from, which uses different leagues to factor their average positions, I will examine the biggest gainers and fallers of 2019 at each position during this series of articles.

It's time to assess how the season went at the tight end position, where the Big Three (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz) were joined by an unexpected player, a few young guys performed to unpredicted levels, and some of the most hyped and coveted "studs" at the position turned out to be "duds" by the end of the year. Here are your ADP winners and losers at TE in 2019.

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TE ADP Winners

Darren Waller - OAK (ADP TE21, finished TE3)

I was expecting Waller to log a ton of targets this season if only because of the departure of Jared Cook and his 101 targets in 2018. What I wasn't expecting -- not at least to this extent -- was the incredible season Waller had hidden in him. Waller's breakout season caught more than one fantasy owner by surprise. I was lucky to make Waller one of my most often-drafted sleepers, and the move truly paid off. Waller finished the year with a massive 117 targets (third-most among TEs) and 90 receptions (second-most) for 1,145 yards and 3 TDs. Other than the scoring numbers, which were a little low considering the other counting stats, Waller turned into a set-and-forget play at the position in 2019 and probably locked himself into a top-five TE ADP come 2020.

Mark Andrews - BAL (ADP TE13, finished TE5)

The other sleeper at the tight end position along with Waller, Mark Andrews became one of Lamar Jackson's most-used weapons on offense. Kudos to those owners betting on the QB+TE stack later in their drafts, because you definitely killed it. While Andrews didn't reach the 1,000-yard mark, he still was able to rack up 852 of them on 64 receptions to impressively become the only TE with 10 touchdowns in 2019 (Cook had nine, and no other player at the position had more than six). No matter if the TDs regress a bit, as the yards might go up to balance out the overall outcome and keep Andrews as one of the top TEs going forward.

Austin Hooper - ATL (ADP TE11, finished TE6)

Although Hooper's jump from his ADP of TE11 to his ultimate finish as TE6 might not jump off the page, digging a little deeper we find a much better and detailed picture of Hooper's performance in 2019: Hooper's overall ADP was of 111.3 (early ninth round) yet he finished as the 31st-best player (mid-third round) in all of fantasy football. That's a much more sizable bump, isn't it? Despite missing three games, Hooper was able to log 787 yards on 75 receptions and fell just three targets short of getting to 100. His six touchdowns ranked third (tied with Zach Ertz and Kyle Rudolph) among TEs. Hooper is a free agent this summer and he will definitely cash in big time. Whether he remains in Atlanta or not is yet to be seen, but no matter where he goes he'll be one of the most sought after players at the position next year in every fantasy league.


TE ADP Losers

O.J. Howard - TB (ADP TE4, finished TE29)

The ultimate stinker. Barring the cases of Chris Herndon IV (one game played) and David Njoku (four games), there wasn't a player more hyped to end the season with worse numbers than Howard -- at the tight end position or any other one, that is. Howard was drafted at the 62nd spot (early fifth round) on average during last summer's drafts yet he finished 2019 with the 219th-most total fantasy points (83.9 in 14 games), which would have made him an 18th-rounder in deep leagues or simply an undrafted player in 12-team ones. After having a promising 2018 season, Howard remained on fantasy rosters for most of the season even with middling production (459 yards on 34 receptions, 1 TD) as those who invested in him never ran out of hope. Too bad he never truly panned out.

Eric Ebron - IND (ADP TE8, finished TE27)

The King of Regression brought honor to the label and even though his 2019 should have not caught anyone by surprise he still was drafted as the TE8 prior to the season... Learn from your mistakes, folks! Ebron's massive 2018 year was never going to repeat, much less playing under Jacoby Brissett instead of Andrew Luck. In 11 games, Ebron finished with 31 receptions and 375 yards to go with 3 scores. Compare those numbers to his 66/750/13 line in the previous year and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Ebron's production was cut in half this season and I doubt he will ever get back to that historic 2018 level of performance.

Vance McDonald - PIT (ADP TE9, finished TE30)

Vance McDonald was an afterthought in his first four seasons as a pro, then exploded in 2018 being part of a loaded Pittsburgh attack, and that helped him become a top-10 tight end during the past draft season. Given that Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were out of town, it was reasonable to think the opportunities would be there for McDonald to exploit, but even with that (55 targets) the TE could only catch 38 passes in his 14 games and score three touchdowns. The quarterback problems were a constant for the Steelers and that didn't help matters, but for those spending an eighth-round pick on the veteran tight end saw McDonald ruin their plans at the TE position.

More Fantasy Football 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.

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