The Week 11 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. ET. In this piece, I highlight the tight ends who stand out in our large suite of analytical DFS Tools, most specifically the industry-leading FantasyLabs Models.
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Top Tight Ends in the FantasyLabs Models
There are six tight ends atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
- George Kittle: $7,000 DraftKings; $7,500 FanDuel
- Zach Ertz: $5,000 DraftKings; $6,200 FanDuel
- Greg Olsen: $3,900 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
- Eric Ebron: $3,600 DraftKings; $5,200 FanDuel
- Nick Boyle: $2,700 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
- Jordan Akins: $2,600 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
George Kittle: San Francisco 49ers (-10.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 45 Over/Under
UPDATE (Nov. 16): TE George Kittle (knee) and Matt Breida (ankle) are doubtful. WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) is a questionable game-time decision.
Kittle (knee) missed Week 10 and seems doubtful to play. At this point in the week, he’s still in the Models because he hasn’t technically been ruled out — he’s No. 1 in the Freedman Model for FanDuel — but I expect him to sit.
When/if Kittle is declared out, backup tight end Ross Dwelley will warrant consideration because of the strong matchup. The Cardinals have allowed a league-high 17.6 FanDuel points per game to opposing tight ends and are No. 32 in pass defense against the position in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
Over the past two weeks, Dwelley has averaged 5.5 targets per game as a full-time player. With his “flow chart” matchup, that kind of usage might be good enough.
As for Kittle, if he somehow manages to suit up, he’ll probably be too risky for cash games: I’d be worried about an in-game aggravation of his existing injury. But for guaranteed prize pools, he’d be an option. Kittle leads the 49ers with 86.3 air yards and yards after the catch combined per game (per AirYards.com).
Zach Ertz: Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) vs. New England Patriots, 45 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 16): WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and RB Darren Sproles (quad, IR) are out. RB Josh Howard (shoulder) is questionable and RB Jay Ajayi was recently re-signed.
Remember the days when Ertz was a matchup-proof top-three tight end? Those days are gone. Ertz is barely a top-six option in our Week 11 fantasy football rankings.
The consensus opinion entering the season was that Ertz was due for regression. Last year, among all players (not just tight ends), he was No. 2 with 116 receptions and No. 6 with 156 targets. He was No. 4 with 27 red-zone targets. He was the team leader with 1,163 yards receiving, 1,122 air yards, 351 yards after the catch and eight touchdowns. He had career-highs in games played, targets, receptions, touchdowns and catch rate.
With all of the other pass-catching options on the team, how could he hit those numbers again?
For the most part, the concerns for Ertz have been justified (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool):
- 2018 (18 games): 17.5 DraftKings points, +3.21 Plus/Minus, 50% Consistency Rating
- 2019 (nine games): 12.7 DraftKings points, +0.41 Plus/Minus, 33.3% Consistency Rating
Perusing Ertz’s 2019 stat line is like looking at George Costanza’s 1992 hair line. (“He’s not bald. He’s balding.”) On a per-game basis, Ertz is No. 3 at the position in usage with 13.2 expected fantasy points but No. 96 in efficiency with -0.7 fantasy points over expectation (per RotoViz Screener).
In only one game has Ertz had a truly difference-making performance (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
But that output did come in his most recent game, when he was rostered in a position-high 56% of the top 100 Millionaire Maker lineups.
Ertz still has the potential to go off.
It’s hard to know what to make of Ertz’s matchup: The Pats have held opposing tight ends to a bottom-three mark of 7.4 DraftKings points per game. But the Pats have had a rather light tight end schedule to date, and in their two most recent games they did allow 2-33-1 receiving on three targets to Demetrius Harris and 5-27-1 on five targets to Nick Boyle.
If the Eagles choose to target Ertz, he will probably have success.
And why wouldn’t they target him? Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen, IR) is out, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and seems increasingly unlikely to play. In his two games this year without both Jeffery and Jackson for a majority of the snaps (Weeks 2-3), Ertz averaged 11.5 targets.
It was almost two years ago, with a different quarterback and against a somewhat different defense, but it’s worth remembering that Ertz had a 7-67-1 receiving performance on nine targets against the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.
I don’t like that Ertz is on the negative side of his splits. Since he became a key contributor in 2014, Ertz has underwhelmed as an underdog.
- Favorite (54 games): 14.8 DraftKings points, +3.98 Plus/Minus, 61.1% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (34 games): 11.1 DraftKings points, +0.86 Plus/Minus, 47.1% Consistency Rating
And I also don’t like that over their past four games, Ertz and No. 2 tight end Dallas Goedert have had similar production and usage while Goedert has been more consistent.
- Zach Ertz (Weeks 6-9): 13.4 DraftKings points, one top-12 finish, 57.5 snaps, 7.3 targets, 4.3 receptions, 53.8 yards, 0.25 touchdowns
- Dallas Goedert (Weeks 6-9): 11.2 DraftKings points, three top-12 finishes, 50.3 snaps, 5.5 targets, 4.0 receptions, 44.5 yards, 0.5 touchdowns
So I will probably stay away from Ertz in cash games. I’m just not sure he offers the value. But he’s coming off the bye, and he should have enhanced target volume, so I like him well enough for tournaments. Ertz leads the position with his ceiling projections.
Ertz is the No. 1 tight end in the Levitan and Raybon Models for DraftKings, where he has a position-high six Pro Trends. For good measure, he’s also the top option in the Bales and Levitan Models for FanDuel.
Greg Olsen: Carolina Panthers (-4) vs. Atlanta Falcons, 49.5 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 16): LT Greg Little (Concussion) is in. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant (toe) is in.
Even without starting quarterback Cam Newton (foot, IR), the über-Witten continues to produce.
Since 2017, when Olsen reached the “Dad Runner” phase of his career, he’s actually been better with backup quarterback Kyle Allen than with everyone else (per RotoViz Game Splits App).
The sample is small, but it’s suggestive: At least for Olsen, the drop-off from Newton to Allen has perhaps been nonexistent.
The matchup for Olsen is decent. In Week 8, the Falcons moved Ricardo Allen from free safety to strong safety, and he held Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson to a 3-25-0 receiving line on three targets. But after the bye, he was exposed in Week 10, as Jared Cook hit season-high marks with 10 targets, six receptions and 74 yards.
Allen has allowed a 73.7% catch rate this year and has a 47.4 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus).
Team-specific production patterns can be analyzed with our FantasyLabs Correlations Tool, and in their seven games together, Olsen and Allen have had a strong 0.79 correlation in their production. If Olsen has a big game, Allen could have one as well. For GPPs, use our Lineup Builder to stack Olsen with his quarterback.
Olsen is the No. 1 tight end in the CSURAM88, Koerner, Raybon and SportsGeek Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high +3.03 Projected Plus/Minus as well as six Pro Trends.
Eric Ebron: Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts, 43.5 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 16): QB Jacoby Brissett (knee) is in.
In the words of Mina Caputo: “The river runs red.”
Last year, Ebron had 15 touchdowns in 18 games. This year, three in nine. Last year, he had 6.9 targets per game. This year, 4.8. If you’ve been a 2019 Ebron investor, you’re in pain.
Do I really want to roster Ebron? No. Am I going to? Actually, maybe I will.
The Colts are without No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf), and this year Ebron has averaged 6.3 targets in three Hilton-less games. Last week, after telling head coach Frank Reich that he wanted to be more involved in the offense, Ebron hit season-high marks with 12 targets, five receptions and a 61% snap rate.
Going back to last season, Ebron has consistently had more usage and production without Hilton.
In his two divisional matchups against the Jags last year, Ebron averaged 22.2 DraftKings points, 75 yards and one touchdown on 9.5 targets and 6.5 receptions per game.
This year, Ebron has a 0.79 correlation with quarterback Jacoby Brissett. He’s a stackable player who seems likely to have a single-digit ownership rate, and if he gets 6-8 targets at his salary, he could provide value.
Ebron trails only wide receiver Zach Pascal on the Colts with his five end-zone targets. If he hadn’t randomly lost out on a tug-of-war touchdown last week, the public perception of Ebron entering this game would likely be very different.
Ebron is the No. 1 tight end in the Freedman and Bales Models for DraftKings.
Nick Boyle: Baltimore Ravens (-4) vs. Houston Texans, 51.5 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 16): WR Marquise Brown (ankle) got in a limited practice on Friday and is tentatively expected to play. Texans CBs Bradley Roby (hamstring) and Lonnie Johnson Jr. (concussion) are questionable.
I have to write about Boyle: He has a position-high 96% Bargain Rating, where he’s the No. 1 tight end in the Koerner and SportsGeek Models. But I absolutely will not be rostering Boyle this weekend in cash games. “And in case you were going to ask, I’m also not going to let you inject me with the plague, either.”
Still, I get why Boyle is popping in our Models.
He’s cheap on DraftKings at $2,700, and he’ll have a nearly nonexistent ownership rate. He affords a lot of roster flexibility, and just last week he was in the Millionaire Maker-winning lineup, so it’s definitely possible to pay down at the position and win big.
He’s very stackable with quarterback Lamar Jackson: Since last year, they have a 0.43 correlation in production.
He’s the best all-around tight end on the Ravens, so he’s usually on the field: He’s better at blocking than Mark Andrews and better at receiving than Hayden Hurst, and he has a 64.5% snap rate this year.
And since the team’s Week 8 bye, he and Andrews are tied with 30 routes run apiece (per PFF).
And Ravens-Texans has the slate’s highest over/under. In rostering Boyle, you could gain leverage on the field in a game that will be popular.
For GPPs, you can probably afford to go overweight on Boyle while still rostering him in a relatively minimal proportion of your lineups.
Jordan Akins: Houston Texans (+4) at Baltimore Ravens, 51.5 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 16): WR Will Fuller (hamstring) and LT Laremy Tunsil (knee) are questionable. Ravens NT Michael Pierce (ankle) is doubtful.
It must be Week 11: We’ve reached that point in the fantasy season when I’m forced to write a blurb about Akins and pretend that he’s not a 100% horrible option. I blame CSURAM88 — it’s his DraftKings Model that has Akins as the No. 1 tight end.
Akins has three factors in his favor this week.
First, he’s utterly contrarian. He’s had almost no ownership all year (per our FantasyLabs Ownership Dashboard). If anyone is wild enough to roster a Texans tight end, that will almost certainly be Darren Fells, not Akins. So he’s a contrarian pivot on a contrarian play: #GameTheory.
Plus, his name is similar to “Anakin” … although I’m not sure that’s a mark in his favor.
Akins and Fells have had similar usage and production this year.
- Jordan Akins (nine games): 214 routes, 28 targets, 20 receptions, 248 yards
- Darren Fells (nine games): 196 routes, 31 targets, 24 receptions, 245 yards
The big difference between them is touchdowns: Fells has six while Akins has two. But touchdowns are fluky. Given that Fells is priced at $3,800 on DraftKings, Akins probably offers some arbitrage value at $2,600.
Finally, the matchup is workable. For years, the Ravens have had something of a tight end-funneling pass defense. They are Nos. 8, 14, and 3 in pass defense DVOA against opposing Nos. 1-2 wide receivers and supplementary receivers. And that makes sense given that they now have a three-headed cornerback unit of Jimmy Smith, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey.
But they are No. 25 in pass defense DVOA against tight ends, and they are without starting strong safety Tony Jefferson (knee, IR). If quarterback Deshaun Watson gave a few more targets to his tight ends this week, that would not surprise.
In what is likely to be a high-scoring game, Akins has the potential to produce at a discount.
Upside Tight Ends for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens ($6,100 DK, $6,900 FD): Andrews is No. 4 among tight ends with 89.4 air yards and yards after the catch combined per game, and he leads the team with 66 targets, 44 receptions, 523 yards receiving and five touchdowns. He’s played just 47.7% of the team’s offensive snaps, so he’s more of a receiving specialist than an all-around block-and-catch contributor, but Andrews is No. 1 at the position with 0.32 targets per route and No. 2 with 2.54 yards per route run (per PFF), so he doesn’t need to be on the field a lot to produce. Andrews has position-high median projections in our Models. UPDATE (Nov. 16): WR Marquise Brown (ankle) got in a limited practice on Friday and is tentatively expected to play. Texans CBs Bradley Roby (hamstring) and Lonnie Johnson Jr. (concussion) are questionable.
Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders ($5,500 DK, $6,700 FD): Waller is No. 3 at the position with 14.9 FanDuel points and No. 6 with 81.7 air yards and yards after the catch per game. Waller is coming off his two worst performances of the year (2-52-0 and 3-40-0 receiving in Weeks 9-10), so he might have a lower ownership rate than he otherwise would. The Bengals are No. 31 in pass defense DVOA against tight ends. Waller has a position-high eight Pro Trends on FanDuel, and the Raiders have a slate-high 29.5-point implied Vegas total. UPDATE (Nov. 16): Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee, IR) is out.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints ($4,400 DK, $6,000 FD): Cook missed Weeks 7-8 with an injury and was on bye in Week 9, but last week he returned to action with quarterback Drew Brees and set season-high marks with 10 targets, six receptions and 74 yards receiving. The Bucs have allowed an NFL-high 501.1 air yards and yards after the catch per game to opposing teams and the second-most DraftKings points to tight ends with 18.8 per game. Jordan Whitehead is last in the league among starting tight ends with a 37.4 PFF coverage grade. UPDATE (Nov. 16): Bucs OLBs Carl Nassib (groin) and Anthony Nelson (hamstring) are out. CB Carlton Davis (hip) is in. CB M.J. Stewart (knee) is out.
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos ($3,700 DK, $5,100 FD): The rookie is coming off the bye, but in Week 9 he finally had a breakout performance with 115 yards and one touchdown. In each of his games since the team traded wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, Fant has had season-high snap rates in excess of 80%, and he’s averaged 6.5 targets, four receptions, 70.5 yards receiving and 77.5 air yards and yards after the catch per game. The Vikings have allowed the fifth-most receptions to tight ends this year with 6.4 per game. UPDATE (Nov. 16): Vikings CB Trae Waynes (ankle) is in. DT Linval Joseph (knee) is out.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($3,600 DK, $5,300 FD): Hockenson’s 6-131-1 receiving breakout in Week 1 seems so long ago. Hock hasn’t done much since then, but he has a respectable 64.4% snap rate, and over the past two weeks he’s averaged 6.5 targets, three receptions and 51.5 yards per game. He has five-plus targets in four of five games since the bye. The Cowboys have allowed the third-most DraftKings points to tight ends with 16.6 per game. UPDATE (Nov. 16): QB Matthew Stafford (back, hip) is out. RB Ty Johnson (concussion) is questionable but presumably still in the league’s protocol.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals ($3,200 DK, $5,000 FD): Eifert is stuck with backup quarterback Ryan Finley, but he had nine targets in Week 8 and a touchdown last week after the bye. Eifert has averaged 0.57 touchdowns per game since his 2015 breakout. The Raiders have allowed the third-most FanDuel points to tight ends with 13.1 per game, and Eifert will likely have a low ownership rate. PDATE (Nov. 16): WR A.J. Green (ankle) is out. Raiders CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring) is out.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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