Tuesday - May 21, 2019

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Don’t be a square – Draft a stud Tight End early

Tight ends are a dime a dozen. You can wait until late in the draft and get the same value as if you reached, right? Wrong. Let me piggyback on one of my fellow guest writers that posted, “Your initial post draft assessment may be totally wrong.” With his team that he thought was on its way to a championship he went running back-running back-wide receiver-wide receiver-running back and finally grabbed a tight end in the sixth round. He also waited to grab his quarterback until Rounds 8-10 (see my article “Don’t be a square – Draft a stud QB early”). Read his article to find out how that team did (hint, not too well). His draft strategy seems to be a popular one and one that has won me a few championships in the past
. Yes I said in the past. Fantasy football is a living breathing thing. It’s like the flu virus – once you think you have it figured out it and have it under control it changes its strain and your antibiotic (strategy) no longer works.



Why is this?


Well, for starters, coaches are constantly changing their strategies and game plans to outwit their counterparts. Bill Belichick is king of this and a good reason why the New England Patriots are competitive year-in year-out. He takes what his team gives him and works with it. They come out one year throwing the long ball often and successfully, and then the next year beat you with dink-and-dunk passing and an up the middle ground ‘em, and pound ‘em run game.


Then there are trends that emerge – running back by committee, pass friendly rules and offenses, etc. These are not just trends in the NFL, but fantasy leagues as well. Owners are starting to take quarterbacks and wide receivers much earlier (Randy Moss and Andre Johnson were consensus first-round picks last year as well as Aaron Rodgers). This allows more value at running back to fall through to the middle rounds, whereas in the past you needed to grab your running backs early and often to have a shot at producers at the position.


All of this affects us as fantasy coaches and changes the strain of the virus, and therefore the antibiotic we need to beat it.


Drafting a tight end early is your antibiotic.


You need to be the Belichick of your fantasy league. When everyone thinks you should take a running back or wide receiver in the late third or early fourth round, surprise and tie up that stud tight end. Two things will happen – someone will immediately follow you up with another stud tight end because you just panicked them, and because of that another player will fall through to the next round. So because of you and this other owner, two players are falling through to the next round that weren’t supposed to. This is a great strategy if you’re sitting anywhere near the corner in Rounds 3 and 4, but does not need to be used exclusively in that range.


What’s the advantage to taking a tight end early, you ask? Let’s examine this question:


Last season, Antonio Gates, who I believe to be the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football without a close second, had an average draft position of 37 according to

myfantasyleague.com

. Let’s examine who went five picks north and five picks south of him:


*Please note that when I’m talking stats it’s points per reception (PPR) format. This should still give those that don’t play PPR a good general idea of rankings.


*TPE = Total Points Extrapolated (assuming a 16-game season)


**Decimals are excluded, which is why players may have the same point per game (PPG) total but different totals.


ADP

Name

2010 points

2010 PPG

TPE*

32

Jamaal Charles

287

18

288

33

Pierre Thomas

90

6

96

34

Anquan Boldin

191

12

192

35

Dallas Clark

93

16

256

36

LeSean McCoy

301

20

320

37

Antonio Gates

188

19

304

38

Steve Smith (NY)

119

13

208

39

Steve Smith (CAR)

114

13

208

40

Chris

‘Beanie’
Wells

64

5

80

41

Wes Welker

213

14

224

42

Joseph Addai

102

13

208


On first examination, you might say, ‘wow look at those names! I could get Jamaal Charles with a pick in that round, so why would I touch a tight end?’ Sure you could’ve or you could’ve grabbed Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. So what should really stick out to us with that chart? Obviously, a lot of those names – including Gates – had major injuries during the 2010 season, so we must look at their points per game average. Gates stands as the clear No. 2 behind only McCoy (a consensus Top 10 pick this year). This should be a pretty powerful stat for you to read. If it’s not then I’m not sure why you’re into fantasy football.


So again, why choose a stud tight end there? One word: Consistency. From last year’s average draft position we see that you have a 3-in-11 chance of landing a stud with a pick around the third and fourth rounds. However, everyone expected Gates to perform at a stud level; everyone else on that list was a question mark. How do you win championships? By choosing consistent performers early, and often I save my mid rounds for my “risky” picks.


Take a look at the points extrapolated through a 16-game schedule. Think about what receiver or running back you’re going to get in the late third/early fourth this year that’s going to give you 300 points (let’s call it 250 to be conservative). I think that’s a safe projection for Gates. Go look at the ADP right now and look five up and five down and tell me who’s a lock for 250 fantasy points this year. Matter of fact, I’ll make it easy for you:


These are early results, so buyer beware.


*TPE = Total Points Extrapolated (assuming a 16-game season)


**Decimals are excluded which is why players like Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers have the same points per game but different extrapolated totals.


ADP

Name

2010 points

2010 PPG

2010 TPE*

35

Mike Williams (TB)

224

14

224

36

Philip Rivers

362

23

362

37

Peyton Manning

364

23

364

38

Brandon Marshall

206

15

240

39

LeGarette Blount

138

13

208

40

Antonio Gates

188

19

304

41

Knowshon Moreno

197

15

240

42

Wes Welker

213

14

224

43

Jeremy Maclin

233

15

240

44

Tom Brady

383

24

383

45

JerMichael Finley

58

15

240



Alright, so which wide receiver or running back? Is Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams a lock? I think not. I like him in dynasty, but do I think he’s a lock this year for 250? No. Marshall? Nope, who knows what’s going on down in Miami besides lots of running? I’m putting Blount around 250-270 fantasy points this year, but he’s still unproven, I’d rather have that proven talent in Gates, who I can basically pencil in his numbers. Moreno? I don’t think he stands a chance, and his ADP should change dramatically when Denver brings in another running back to relegate him to third down duties. Welker? I think we can expect similar numbers to last year. Maclin, possibly, I can see him breaking 250 this year. Finley, well he’s right in the discussion with Gates. None of the players being taken around Gates are dead locks like he is.


I leave out the quarterbacks because of my previous article. If you read that, and trusted me, you went with a quarterback already or you’re sitting on the three/four corner and are going to go stud quarterback/stud tight end.   


Let’s examine how your team may look if you’re sitting near the turn and you use my strategy of locking up the stud quarterbacks and tight ends early.


Round 1 – Andre Johnson


Round 2 – Rashard Mendenhall


Round 3 – Peyton Manning


Round 4 – Antonio Gates


I love how that lineup’s starting to shape up, and you may be surprised to see what’s out there waiting for you at the running back and wide receiver positions after you lock up four sure fire studs at each major position. All these guys have an ADP of 45 or higher – Shonn Greene, Stevie Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Austin Collie, Brandon Lloyd, Percy Harvin, Santonio Holmes, Mark Ingram, Felix Jones, Ryan Grant and Cedric Benson. Those are just a few names, and all solid No. 2’s at their respective position, especially if you’re anchored with surefire studs at all four major positions. Go check out the ADP yourself here:

2011 myfantasyleague ADP



As I said in my previous article, we’re sharks so we’ll maximize the middle rounds of our draft better than most, so lock up those stud players that you’re told to wait on early, draft outside the box and reap the rewards.


I already showed you that you’re not giving up much, if any, value in the early rounds if you draft a stud tight end, so now I’ll leave you with one other info table – the difference ADP for tight ends and their points per game last year, so you can really see what you’re missing if you wait to draft one.


* I used a baseline of 250 fantasy points because I believe that’s where most of the studs will end up. One or more of those studs will have a season like Gates last year and go between 250 and 300 fantasy points.


ADP

Name

2010 points

2010 PPG

TPE

PPG difference from baseline of 250

35

Dallas Clark

93

16

256


37

Antonio Gates

188

19

304

+3

47

JerMichael Finley

58

16

256


49

Vernon Davis

197

12

197

-4

51

Jason Witten

259

16

256


61

Brent Celek

120

8

128

-8

66

Tony Gonzalez

173

11

176

-5

88

Owen Daniels

98

9

144

-7

97

Visanthe Shiancoe

113

7

113

-9

100

Chris Cooley

182

11

182

-5


Do you still think it’s worth waiting on a tight end? Do you really want to leave an average of a touchdown on the board every week to possibly draft Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells? Drafting a stud tight end is pretty good value in Rounds 3 and 4 now that you break it down a little bit, huh?


Pop quiz – how many wide receivers had more than 250 fantasy points last year and what was their ADP?


Answer: 10


ADP

Name

2010 points

21

Roddy White

322

FA

Brandon Lloyd

288

58

Dwayne Bowe

285

27

Greg Jennings

283

13

Reggie Wayne

281

18

Calvin Johnson

271

74

Mike Wallace

259

7

Andre Johnson

258

56

Hakeem Nicks

253


What this chart tells me is if you miss out on the surefire studs at wide receiver – White, Wayne, Jennings and both Johnsons – it’s a crapshoot from there. Four of the Top 10 wide receivers came with an ADP of 50-plus.


I know where you can get similar fantasy points to the top ten receivers two or three rounds later in the draft, do you?


My three surefire tight ends you can’t miss with and are worth the reach.


1. Anotonio Gates – He is the stud tight end, so expect stud numbers until his wheels fall off.


2. Dallas Clark – He was on pace for a monster season last year, and he is the No. 1 target on one of the Top 5 passing teams in the league.


3. Jermichael Finley – The guy’s a beast and was opening the flood gates before his season got cut short last year, and like Dallas Clark he’s on a really pass-friendly team.


Near misses:


1. Jason Witten – He’s a stud but not worth the reach for me this year, as there are too many mouths to feed down in the Lone Star state.


2. Vernon Davis – Contrary to popular belief, young or rookie quarterbacks don’t throw to their tight ends any more than veterans. In fact they throw to them slightly less, and also less accurately.


I hope I’ve opened your eyes a little more to drafting outside the box. I truly believe if you play your cards right and land a stud at each major position and make savvy picks throughout the mid rounds of your draft you’re setting yourself up for a championship run.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.