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#TrendingNow - Dynasty Risers and Fallers Week 14


I would like to take a second and welcome you to the all tight end edition of #TrendingNow. If your name isn’t Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz, you can sometimes be overlooked at the position. Most fantasy football owners don’t play TE premium leagues (leagues in which TEs score more than other players) so there is a larger focus on running backs and wide receivers.

Wide receivers and running backs are going to give you bigger plays and top fantasy production that you will not get from a tight end outside of the elite level players. Based on fantasydata.com, only one tight end had an ADP inside the top 60 last year and that was Gronkowski at 18 overall. My strategy with tight ends is to wait and find value.

In most leagues, you can still get great value for tight ends by waiting till the later rounds after others have snatched up the top options. If you passed on Gronkowski at 18 overall, you would have had a shot at Leonard Fournette, Brandin Cooks, Doug Baldwin and the hottest player outside Alvin Kamara, Keenan Allen. One of those players paired with Even Engram at 161 overall would have given you a ton of production this year. So let’s take a look at the underappreciated tight end position.

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#TrendingUp

Hunter Henry (TE, LAC)

One of my preseason picks to breakout in 2017 (even more then his 2016 campaign) got off to a slow start and owners lost confidence. Two out of Henrys first three games to start the season ended with zero catches. Total this season, Henry has six games with 25 yards receiving or less. Henry has been very boom or bust this season, but brighter roads are on the horizon. Antonio Gates will be done in Los Angeles leaving Henry the opportunity to fully flourish. The one stat that really sticks out to be is Henry’s 13 yards per reception, which is the same average as Travis Kelce, the current TE1. If Henry only had 10 more receptions on the season, he would currently have 631 receiving yards, which would be fifth overall for tight ends.

The production is there but the volume is not. Part of that is probably Gates taking snaps away, but it’s others as well. Four different tight ends saw a snap for the Charges in Week 13. Henry led the way with 50 snaps, but the others are chewing into his volume just enough to keep him on the fringe of top 10 tight end play. All that Henry is missing to be a legit top five TE is more volume. It’s coming in 2018 though, just don’t give up yet.

 

Ricky Seals-Jones (TE, ARI)

On September 25th Ricky Seals-Jones was promoted from the practice squad. On that day, I ran to every league I’m in and added him from free agency. Seals-Jones is a converted WR from Texas A&M but profiles as a more traditional TE. He is big, listed at 6-5, 243 pounds but is not fast. For Seals-Jones to be productive in the NFL, he is going to need to us his size against linebackers. Since he used to be a WR though, Seals-Jones has the footwork to run decent routes around big LBs who are not nearly as athletic. To top it all off, Seals-Jones has some decent NFL genes running through his family tree. His Cousin is Eric Dickerson, the single season rushing record holder. It always helps to have a mentor like Dickerson just a phone call away.

We didn’t hear anything from Jones-Seals this season until Week 11, and seemingly came out of nowhere. Since Week 11, Seals-Jones has nine catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Keep an eye on Seals-Jones as a deep stash in dynasty leagues. He plays in an offense with Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Those two on their own will draw enough attention to give Seals-jones plenty of opportunities to produce. If you add in John Brown as well, the Cardinals offense will have playmakers all over the field in 2018. The key will be getting Carson Palmer healthy at this point. It’s not fair to expect Seals-Jones to become a top fantasy tight end right away, but I see a ceiling of top 15 by the end of 2018. I’m drawn to Seals-Jones due to his work as a wide receiver while an Aggie. He has the ability to perform from the TE position at the NFL level.

 

#TrendingDown

Austin Hooper (TE, ATL)

I didn’t buy into Austin Hooper like some others did this offseason. I understood why the hype reached certain levels, but the Falcons offense as a whole worried me. Now, I am not labeling Hooper as a bust and I am not saying he doesn’t have the opportunity to become a fantasy relevant tight end. Hooper was strongly considered by some to be a top 10 tight end heading into this season and he hasn’t performed close to those standards. It was probably unfair to expect that from Hooper anyway considering he only started three games last year and only had 19 receptions on 27 targets.

It looked like Hooper was well on the way to meeting those expectations after hauling in 128 yards on two catches for a touchdown to start the season. But it took him another five games after that just to reach 120 yards receiving. Outside of Week 1, Hoopers best performance came in Week 4 when he had 50 yards receiving. That’s his highest mark since the beginning of the season. In Week 11 he had negative receiving yards on two catches. I know I am not a football player, but that seems extremely difficult to do in the NFL when you touch the ball twice.

Maybe Hooper can bounce back in 2018 and become a more valuable dynasty asset. Hooper just hasn’t been consistent enough to head into the offseason planning on him being your starting tight end. If you play in deeper leagues and you can stash him, absolutely do it. He is only 23 years old and plays in an offense with a lot of weapons around. But is this a case of having too many weapons around him?

 

Jason Witten (TE, DAL)

As with Hooper, this is another case of a hot start gone cold. Jason Witten had 17 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games this year. With the possibility of an Ezekiel Elliot suspension still coming, it appeared Witten would continue to be a featured piece of the game plan. With a suspension to the star running back, the passing game would certainly need to pick up the slack. I even bought into the start by Witten and traded for him in a league hoping he would help with Kyle Rudolph’s slow start, but they decided to switch and now Rudolph is the one that is hot.

Witten has five games this year with only one reception. I don’t care who you are, I need someone who is going to get me more than one reception a game. It happens to players from time to time, nothing we can do about a down performance. But five times? No way I can roll him out in my lineup and be comfortable expecting a top 10 TE performance each week. Consistency continues to be the name of the game.

What is going to happen next year with the Cowboys or even Witten himself? The Cowboys will move back to a run first offense with Elliot, especially with how many troubles we have seen Dak Prescott have by himself this year. The most interesting part to this however, is Wittens interest in the open Tennessee coaching position. Maybe Witten will plan on hanging it up soon to get into coaching. When he sees players around him going down with concussions and possible CTE related life issues, he could decide to retire. Maybe he decides to give it one more go in 2018 and try for a ring. I’m not willing to pay much for this production and one more season in a dynasty league. If you pick him up as depth, that’s absolutely fine, but I don’t recommend in looking to Witten as your starting TE.

 

More 2017 Dynasty League Strategy




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