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NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend Tight End DFS Breakdown

Welcome to the playoffs! In this piece, I’ll be discussing the top fantasy tight ends in the context of our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models.

This piece will be focused on multi-game contests but is actionable for Showdown slates as well. All salaries listed are based on the six-game Saturday-Monday slates.

As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections, player ratings in our Player Models will change. For updates, visit the models directly.

And don’t forget to check out our Lineup Builder if you like to hand build your lineups or our Lineup Optimizer for those of you that like to enter multiple lineups into tournaments.

FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns

  • Quarterbacks on Tuesday
  • Wide receivers on Wednesday
  • Running Backs on Frida

For more in-depth NFL analysis, check out The Action Network.

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High-End Tight Ends

Travis Kelce ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (46 total)

Kelce is another player who we’re getting at a steep discount to open the playoffs. His $6,700 salary on DraftKings, in particular, is the lowest it’s been all year, while his FanDuel salary is near the bottom. He’s still the most expensive tight end available, but not by much. That should make him a strong play for Sunday’s slate, as he’s by far the highest producing tight end to make it to the playoffs.

It’s not an ideal matchup, though, with the Chiefs as the largest favorites of the Wild Card Round. (This is also likely to be the biggest spread we see all postseason.) While the Chiefs throw the ball regardless of game script, it would make sense to limit dropbacks if they get off to a big lead. Kelce has been battling minor injuries all season, so I would expect a lower workload than normal for the star tight end.

The Steelers are also far better in pass defense than run defense, which should further tilt Kansas City to the ground game if and when they get out in front. Still, there’s a chance they build that lead through Kelce, who has two games with multiple touchdowns on the season.

Kelce trails only Rob Gronkowski in ceiling projection, though he’s not standing out as a great Pts/Sal play on either site. I’d keep my Kelce exposure to Chiefs (or Steelers) stacks built around Pittsburgh, keeping this one close.

Rob Gronkowski ($6,400 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (47 total)

As alluded to above, Gronkowski has the highest ceiling projection (on either site) or any tight end this week. With Tampa Bay down to Gronk and Mike Evans among their original pass-catching corps, target share should be high for Gronk. He has 20 targets over the past two weeks, good for a 23% share.

Similar to Kelce, there are concerns about total passing volume in this one, though. Tampa Bay is the next largest favorite on the slate. There’s also a solid chance of some weather issues in this one, with the forecast (as of Thursday) giving a 70% chance of rain and wind speeds in the mid-teens. Tampa would likely focus more on the ground game if those conditions held through Sunday.

On the other hand, Tampa trailed only Kansas City in pass rate over expectation on the season, so don’t expect them to totally abandon the passing game. The Eagles have the league’s 25th-ranked passing defense (and surrender a positive Opponent Plus/Minus Allowed to tight ends), so it’s a reasonable matchup.

Our projections currently have Gronk as the best Pts/Sal play on the slate. He’s sure to garner high ownership, though (particularly on Sunday’s three-game slate), so I’ll be looking elsewhere in tournaments.

Darren Waller ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel): Las Vegas Raiders (+5.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (49 total)

Waller is the top option on the two-game Saturday slate and also at his lowest price of the year on both DraftKings and FanDuel. That’s courtesy of his five-week absence, which was followed by a disappointing two-catch performance (on nine targets) in his return.

Those targets are encouraging, though, regardless of what he did with them. After missing so much time, it’s understandable that he and quarterback Derek Carr weren’t totally in sync. Waller didn’t even get a full week of practice prior to Week 18, thanks to his COVID status.

That’s not the case this week, with Waller fully healthy. He’ll need to have a good game to keep the Raiders in this one against an explosive Bengals offense. The Bengals also have the best Opponent Plus/Minus Allowed of the Wild Card Round to tight ends, making Waller extra appealing.

Waller is clearly Saturday’s top option and might be my favorite tight end for the six-game slate. It’s rare to get a buy-low opportunity (both in terms of salary and – I suspect – ownership) on a premier tight end like Waller.

Mid-Range Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel): Dallas Cowboys (-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (50.5 total)

Let’s start with the good news on Schultz. Starting in Week 9, he’s averaged just under 12 PPR points per game, making him the overall TE4 in that span. The Cowboys have shifted to a more pass-heavy offense down the stretch and are only narrowly favored against the 49ers. A team that is the third-best matchup for tight ends on an Opponent Plus/Minus Allowed basis.

Here’s the bad news: Except for Week 18, Blake Jarwin was inactive for all of those games. Jarwin returned from injury last week and immediately siphoned off two of the five tight end targets available from the Cowboys. Schultz scored two touchdowns on three looks, but that’s clearly not a sustainable pace.

Schultz is still the better tight end for the Cowboys, both from a real-life and fantasy standpoint. I expect him to continue to see the majority of the looks, but Jarwin cutting in for two or three makes Schultz a bad play. Given the strength of the tight ends available on Sunday, I’m out on Schultz this week. He could burn me with another multi-touchdown game, but I’m willing to take that risk.

Zach Ertz ($4,700 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel): Arizona Cardinals (+4) at Los Angeles Rams (49.5 total)

With the Cardinals playing on Monday, Ertz isn’t available for either of the weekend’s featured slates. However, he’s a strong option for both showdown contests and the full six-game slate.

Since DeAndre Hopkins went down, Ertz has seen a noticeable uptick in targets for Arizona. He leads the team with a 26% target share in that span, which is more than any tight end in the league saw over the full season.

That gives Ertz an extremely high floor and one of the best Pts/Sal on the slate. Of course, the knock on Ertz is his ceiling. He offers almost nothing in terms of yards after the catch (YAC). He’s also scored only three touchdowns in 11 games with Arizona (and none since Hopkins went down).

Of course, touchdowns are somewhat random, and Ertz has a reasonable red-zone role. He’s due for some positive regression, as he leads all tight ends this week in red zone opportunities per game (over the past year). I’m all in on Ertz for the Monday showdown contests.

Dallas Goedert ($4,500 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel): Philadelphia Eagles (+8.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (47 total)

Goedert leads all tight ends in our models in Pts/Sal this week. He’s behind only Mark Andrews in target share among tight ends since Ertz was traded to Arizona. That makes him the most heavily used tight end in the playoffs, with Baltimore being eliminated.

Despite that, he’s one of the cheapest starting tight ends, ranking eighth (out of 12 teams) this week. That’s due to the Eagles’ run-first offensive approach, but I’m not sure that will be the case this week. They’re touchdown underdogs and facing a Bucs team that sees the highest opponent pass play rate in the league.

Of course, the weather issues we discussed with Gronkowski (see above) are at play here for Goedert. Goedert has a shorter average depth of target (aDOT) than Gronk, though, so adverse conditions should impact him less than they do his counterpart.

Goedert is the obvious cash game option for Sunday’s slate. He’s a reasonable tournament play, too, though all of the tight ends with better ceiling projections also play on Sunday.

Value Tight End

CJ Uzomah ($3,200 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel): Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (49 total)

Uzomah is the best cheap tight end option this week and has the best Pts/Sal on the Saturday slate. I make it a point to not target tight ends who have a teammate also listed in our models – Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, for example. By that criteria, Uzomah is the cheapest available option.

He’s been a steady option down the stretch for the Bengals. He has at least six targets in five of their last six games (not counting Week 18, in which Uzomah rested along with other Bengals starters). Even the outlier game in that sample saw four targets head Uzomah’s way.

There’s nothing exciting about clicking Uzomah’s name in DFS lineups. However, he could very well end up with the best target/cost ratio of any tight end this weekend. His ceiling is extremely limited, though. He needs a touchdown to provide any real upside – something he hasn’t done since Week 7.

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Welcome to the playoffs! In this piece, I’ll be discussing the top fantasy tight ends in the context of our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models.

This piece will be focused on multi-game contests but is actionable for Showdown slates as well. All salaries listed are based on the six-game Saturday-Monday slates.

As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections, player ratings in our Player Models will change. For updates, visit the models directly.

And don’t forget to check out our Lineup Builder if you like to hand build your lineups or our Lineup Optimizer for those of you that like to enter multiple lineups into tournaments.

FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns

  • Quarterbacks on Tuesday
  • Wide receivers on Wednesday
  • Running Backs on Frida

For more in-depth NFL analysis, check out The Action Network.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

High-End Tight Ends

Travis Kelce ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (46 total)

Kelce is another player who we’re getting at a steep discount to open the playoffs. His $6,700 salary on DraftKings, in particular, is the lowest it’s been all year, while his FanDuel salary is near the bottom. He’s still the most expensive tight end available, but not by much. That should make him a strong play for Sunday’s slate, as he’s by far the highest producing tight end to make it to the playoffs.

It’s not an ideal matchup, though, with the Chiefs as the largest favorites of the Wild Card Round. (This is also likely to be the biggest spread we see all postseason.) While the Chiefs throw the ball regardless of game script, it would make sense to limit dropbacks if they get off to a big lead. Kelce has been battling minor injuries all season, so I would expect a lower workload than normal for the star tight end.

The Steelers are also far better in pass defense than run defense, which should further tilt Kansas City to the ground game if and when they get out in front. Still, there’s a chance they build that lead through Kelce, who has two games with multiple touchdowns on the season.

Kelce trails only Rob Gronkowski in ceiling projection, though he’s not standing out as a great Pts/Sal play on either site. I’d keep my Kelce exposure to Chiefs (or Steelers) stacks built around Pittsburgh, keeping this one close.

Rob Gronkowski ($6,400 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (47 total)

As alluded to above, Gronkowski has the highest ceiling projection (on either site) or any tight end this week. With Tampa Bay down to Gronk and Mike Evans among their original pass-catching corps, target share should be high for Gronk. He has 20 targets over the past two weeks, good for a 23% share.

Similar to Kelce, there are concerns about total passing volume in this one, though. Tampa Bay is the next largest favorite on the slate. There’s also a solid chance of some weather issues in this one, with the forecast (as of Thursday) giving a 70% chance of rain and wind speeds in the mid-teens. Tampa would likely focus more on the ground game if those conditions held through Sunday.

On the other hand, Tampa trailed only Kansas City in pass rate over expectation on the season, so don’t expect them to totally abandon the passing game. The Eagles have the league’s 25th-ranked passing defense (and surrender a positive Opponent Plus/Minus Allowed to tight ends), so it’s a reasonable matchup.

Our projections currently have Gronk as the best Pts/Sal play on the slate. He’s sure to garner high ownership, though (particularly on Sunday’s three-game slate), so I’ll be looking elsewhere in tournaments.

Darren Waller ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel): Las Vegas Raiders (+5.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (49 total)

Waller is the top option on the two-game Saturday slate and also at his lowest price of the year on both DraftKings and FanDuel. That’s courtesy of his five-week absence, which was followed by a disappointing two-catch performance (on nine targets) in his return.

Those targets are encouraging, though, regardless of what he did with them. After missing so much time, it’s understandable that he and quarterback Derek Carr weren’t totally in sync. Waller didn’t even get a full week of practice prior to Week 18, thanks to his COVID status.

That’s not the case this week, with Waller fully healthy. He’ll need to have a good game to keep the Raiders in this one against an explosive Bengals offense. The Bengals also have the best Opponent Plus/Minus Allowed of the Wild Card Round to tight ends, making Waller extra appealing.

Waller is clearly Saturday’s top option and might be my favorite tight end for the six-game slate. It’s rare to get a buy-low opportunity (both in terms of salary and – I suspect – ownership) on a premier tight end like Waller.

Mid-Range Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel): Dallas Cowboys (-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (50.5 total)

Let’s start with the good news on Schultz. Starting in Week 9, he’s averaged just under 12 PPR points per game, making him the overall TE4 in that span. The Cowboys have shifted to a more pass-heavy offense down the stretch and are only narrowly favored against the 49ers. A team that is the third-best matchup for tight ends on an Opponent Plus/Minus Allowed basis.

Here’s the bad news: Except for Week 18, Blake Jarwin was inactive for all of those games. Jarwin returned from injury last week and immediately siphoned off two of the five tight end targets available from the Cowboys. Schultz scored two touchdowns on three looks, but that’s clearly not a sustainable pace.

Schultz is still the better tight end for the Cowboys, both from a real-life and fantasy standpoint. I expect him to continue to see the majority of the looks, but Jarwin cutting in for two or three makes Schultz a bad play. Given the strength of the tight ends available on Sunday, I’m out on Schultz this week. He could burn me with another multi-touchdown game, but I’m willing to take that risk.

Zach Ertz ($4,700 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel): Arizona Cardinals (+4) at Los Angeles Rams (49.5 total)

With the Cardinals playing on Monday, Ertz isn’t available for either of the weekend’s featured slates. However, he’s a strong option for both showdown contests and the full six-game slate.

Since DeAndre Hopkins went down, Ertz has seen a noticeable uptick in targets for Arizona. He leads the team with a 26% target share in that span, which is more than any tight end in the league saw over the full season.

That gives Ertz an extremely high floor and one of the best Pts/Sal on the slate. Of course, the knock on Ertz is his ceiling. He offers almost nothing in terms of yards after the catch (YAC). He’s also scored only three touchdowns in 11 games with Arizona (and none since Hopkins went down).

Of course, touchdowns are somewhat random, and Ertz has a reasonable red-zone role. He’s due for some positive regression, as he leads all tight ends this week in red zone opportunities per game (over the past year). I’m all in on Ertz for the Monday showdown contests.

Dallas Goedert ($4,500 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel): Philadelphia Eagles (+8.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (47 total)

Goedert leads all tight ends in our models in Pts/Sal this week. He’s behind only Mark Andrews in target share among tight ends since Ertz was traded to Arizona. That makes him the most heavily used tight end in the playoffs, with Baltimore being eliminated.

Despite that, he’s one of the cheapest starting tight ends, ranking eighth (out of 12 teams) this week. That’s due to the Eagles’ run-first offensive approach, but I’m not sure that will be the case this week. They’re touchdown underdogs and facing a Bucs team that sees the highest opponent pass play rate in the league.

Of course, the weather issues we discussed with Gronkowski (see above) are at play here for Goedert. Goedert has a shorter average depth of target (aDOT) than Gronk, though, so adverse conditions should impact him less than they do his counterpart.

Goedert is the obvious cash game option for Sunday’s slate. He’s a reasonable tournament play, too, though all of the tight ends with better ceiling projections also play on Sunday.

Value Tight End

CJ Uzomah ($3,200 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel): Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (49 total)

Uzomah is the best cheap tight end option this week and has the best Pts/Sal on the Saturday slate. I make it a point to not target tight ends who have a teammate also listed in our models – Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, for example. By that criteria, Uzomah is the cheapest available option.

He’s been a steady option down the stretch for the Bengals. He has at least six targets in five of their last six games (not counting Week 18, in which Uzomah rested along with other Bengals starters). Even the outlier game in that sample saw four targets head Uzomah’s way.

There’s nothing exciting about clicking Uzomah’s name in DFS lineups. However, he could very well end up with the best target/cost ratio of any tight end this weekend. His ceiling is extremely limited, though. He needs a touchdown to provide any real upside – something he hasn’t done since Week 7.

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