The 4th Down Decision: Old tight ends and their fantasy impact in new homes

Written by Zach Lyons, co-host of Football & Other F Words and The Flex, “The 4th Down Decision” will look at various fantasy topics from whether you should “Punt” or “Go For It”. When reading the advice please keep in mind: 12-Team League, PPR, 6 Pt Passing TDs. All ADPs based on FantasyPros.com‘s web site.

Tight ends are my least favorite position in all of fantasy sports. Recently, in my league of record, we switched over to a 3 WR/TE format and eliminated the mandatory TE spot. I highly recommend you do that, but that is another topic for another article on another day.

There were 20 free agent tight ends that hit the market, and of the 20 only 2 signed with their home teams. That means there are 18 tight ends currently that found new homes. So let’s take a look at what kind of fantasy impact some of those old guys will make.

Go For It: Greg Olsen

  • Current ADP: 196 (Undrafted)
  • Current Positional Ranking: TE23

A lot of people think Greg is checked out, because he recently signed on to become a broadcaster when he retires. However, I believe he is a fantasy diamond in the rough. 

Last year, with a horrid Carolina Panthers offense, he still managed to get 82 targets, 597 yards, and 2 TDs. That’s not good, but that still is promising as he heads to the Seattle Seahawks.

Experts are very high on Will Dissly, and I don’t hate Will, but out of 32 regular season games, he’s only played in 10 of them. I will put a disclaimer that in 6 of those 10 games he was a TE1 in fantasy for that week.

Greg Olsen still has the athletic ability and vet savvy to get open down the seam and in the middle of the field. I also think he is going to be highly motivated to end his career on a high note. Sometimes those immeasurables like that are key to a fantasy season.

If you are in a TE mandatory league, this just all comes down to value and the state of your roster. If you think you can get away with your TE being an afterthought, and you want to stream every week, I think Greg Olsen is a great sneaky later round pick.

Go For It: Austin Hooper

  • Current ADP: 116 (10th Round)
  • Current Positional Ranking: TE13

Out with the new and in with the technically older. Austin Hooper has a clear path to the TE1 in an offense that will heavily utilize the TE in the passing game. 

I was ready to take shots at Austin Hooper truthers when I started this article, but surprisingly enough, contrary to the hype that surrounded him, he presents really great value, especially if you’re in a mandatory TE league.

The Vikings in 2019 under Kevin Stefanski had 95 targets go to their tight ends. Kyle Rudolph and the rookie Irv Smith split those pretty evenly. The Browns in 2019 only generated 59 targets to all three of their tight ends. So, you will see a huge uptick in targets with Kevan Stefanski as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

We know the Vikings were very much a run first offense last year, but I do not think Stefanski is the reason why. Mike Zimmer fired up-and-coming offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, because he wanted to play a more clock control style of ball. Then in comes Gary Kubiak to be an “offensive consultant”, and he gets his wish.

I think Stefanski will go to a more balanced offense with a slight edge to the passing game, because when you have Austin Hooper, OBJ, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and even Nick Chubb as a pass catcher, how could you not get the passing game going.

With David Njoku asking for a trade, and their next best tight end being Harrison Bryant, Austin Hooper will see most of the tight end targets coming his way, which will allow him to be a fantasy TE1 most of the season.

Punt: Everyone else

For real. These are the best names left on the list: Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron, Tyler Eifert, Trey Burton, Nick Vannett. What a trash heap of names that are definitely not worth a draft pick.

  • Jimmy Graham is one of nine tight ends currently on the Chicago Bears roster.
  • Eric Ebron is only good with Andrew Luck at the helm. Every year the Steelers sign a big free agent tight end, and every year it fails.
  • Tyler Eifert in Jacksonville? No thank you.
  • Trey Burton is interesting because he goes back to Frank Reich who knows how to utilize him, but I would not waste a draft pick on him at this point. Wait and see.
  • Nick Vannett in Denver seems more like a blocking tight end than a pass catching tight end.

Drafting a tight end is a crapshoot for about 70% of the players at the position, and that is probably too low of a number. Much like defenses, I treat tight ends as a purely streaming option, unless a high value one falls into my lap. I highly encourage you to get your league to do away with this position, and change it into a WR/TE. Tight ends are pretty much just hulking wide receivers anyways.

Love my opinions? Hate my opinions? Leave comments below, and let’s discuss!

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