In this piece, I highlight tight ends who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models. While the models are built for DFS contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
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.
Top Tight Ends in the FantasyLabs Models
There are two tight ends atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, and Ryan Hodge have constructed.
Here’s where they place within our Week 6 Fantasy Rankings (as of Wednesday evening):
- Travis Kelce (1st)
- Mark Andrews (3rd)
We’ll discuss why these two are popping in our models and take a look at some other tight ends who could help you win a tournament.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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Top Tight Ends in the FantasyLabs Models
Travis Kelce ($7,000 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel) Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Washington Football Team (55.5)
It almost feels silly writing this piece this week. Kelce is the clear best play on the slate. This is reflected in our Pro’s Models — Kelce leads all of them on DraftKings and four of five on FanDuel.
As the clear leader in our projections, it’s going to be hard to get away from Kelce this week. Besides the monster raw projections, he leads the slate on both sites in Pts/Sal as well. It’s rare that a player dominates all of our systems so thoroughly.
The game environment is outstanding for the Chiefs. Their game and team totals are both the highest this week. Not only is the pie large, but Kelce usually eats a big slice. His market share of his team’s yardage is the highest among all tight ends. He’s also the top fantasy tight end this season, with over 10% more points than his next closest competitor.
Of course, most of this is true for Kelce on a weekly basis. If you’re still consuming DFS content at this point in the season, you know how good he is. What will be important this week is finding ways to gain leverage, with Kelce’s Ownership Projection (not available at the time of writing) sure to lead the slate.
There’s a couple of paths we could follow here. First, consider playing Kelce with Washington team stacks. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke projects very well and will probably come in lower rostered than Mahomes. For Kelce to have a truly monster game, Washington will need to score some points too.
You could also go full Chiefs onslaught and pair Kelce with Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill. This is clearly not a sneaky play, but at $23,800 in DraftKings salary, it is one that’s hard to fit, which should push much of the field away from it.
Since the start of 2020, Kelce has scored at least 20 DraftKings points in 13 of his 20 games. Six of those times, Hill has topped 20 points with him. Of course, you’ll need closer to 60 points at their combined salaries ($15,500 on DraftKings.) In that same 20 game sample, they’ve topped 65 points three times. 65 Points between them at their current salary puts you on pace for 210 DraftKings points.
It’s hard to capture in projections, but I suspect that the number of lineups with Hill and Kelce together will be lower than their individual ownership projections would suggest.
It will be hard to get away from Kelce in any contest type this week.
Mark Andrews ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel) Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs Los Angeles Chargers (51.5 total)
Andrews is the only player preventing a clean sweep by Kelce this week. He leads just one of our FanDuel models. He represents an interesting pivot off Kelce for both sites, though.
Andrews’ salary would likely be far higher had he not played on Monday night. This is the cheapest he’s been on both sites since Week 3, despite a monster 11/147/2 line on Monday night. With fantasy sites releasing salaries before the primetime games finish, we occasionally see situations like this. It’s a bit of a shame it’s happening on Travis Kelce week, but I digress.
We talked about the Ravens’ increased pass rate as it applies to Lamar Jackson in the quarterback breakdown this week, but it benefits Andrews as well. The Ravens have increased their passing volume in every game since Week 2 and aren’t likely to slow down this week. The Chargers offense (and the Ravens defense) should put up enough points that Baltimore is forced to stay aggressive.
This is great for Andrews, who’s tied with Kelce for second in target share percentage among tight ends (trailing only Darren Waller). He’s also due for some positive touchdown regression — his two scores on Monday night were his first trips to the end zone this year. He leads all tight ends in receiving yards, so he’s likely to hit paydirt more often moving forward.
There’s some risk that the Ravens are able to control this game on the ground — the Chargers rank 31st in rushing DVOA. That risk is baked into Andrew’s price and likely his ownership. While he’s obviously not as strong a play as Kelce, the upside is nearly as high. Andrews makes a lot of sense if you’re fading the chalk.
Other Tight Ends With Week-Winning Upside
Darren Waller ($6,600 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel) Las Vegas Raiders (+3.5) at Denver Broncos (44 total)
Waller is priced far too close to Kelce on DraftKings ($400 less), but on FanDuel, the gap is bigger. This makes for an interesting case. Barely over a month ago, Waller drew a massive 19 targets in Week 1. He’s been quieter since but still leads all tight ends in opportunities. It will be interesting to see how (or if) this Raiders offense functions after the sudden ouster of head coach Jon Gruden. This will depress rostership on Waller, though, so it could be a worthwhile gamble to make.
TJ Hockenson ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel) Detroit Lions (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals (47.5 total)
Hockenson started the year strong — posting back-to-back 20-point DraftKings performances. It’s been tough sledding since then, however, barely topping 15 points in the last three games combined. There’s been a variety of issues at play here.
Hockenson is banged up (he was truly questionable for Week 5.) He also saw only three targets in Week 5 and two in Week 3. Whether this is due to a change in the Lions’ game plan or defenses keying in on TJ remains to be seen. Finally, even when he drew eight targets in Week 4, he (and the rest of the Lions offense) was fairly inefficient.
All of this could keep our competition away from Hockenson, despite his talent giving him an outside shot to be the highest-scoring tight end this week.
Value Tight Ends
Tyler Conklin ($3,200 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel) Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Carolina Panthers.
Conklin trails only Kelce in Pts/Sal on DraftKings, where he holds a 92% Bargain Rating. His salary is down after only getting three targets in Week 5, but he’s still averaging five per game this season. A tight matchup with the Panthers should lead to more passing from Minnesota, so it’s reasonable to expect Conklin to end up near the higher end of his usage this week.
He’s certainly not an exciting play, but he’s a touchdown away from being a great value at his price.
Ricky Seals-Jones ($3,000 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel) Washington Football Team (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs (55.5 total)
We want as much exposure to this game as possible, and nowhere can you get it cheaper than through RSJ. With Logan Thomas out, he’s been in on 96% of Washington’s plays the past two weeks. He even saw eight targets (on 41 Taylor Heinicke throws) last week.
No team boosts opponents passing expectations more than the Chiefs, so this is likely to be the best situation for Seals-Jones all season. He’s not some dusty catch-and-fall player either. Still just 26 years old (despite seemingly being in the league for the past decade), his 4.69 40-yard dash coming out of college is a 75th percentile score for tight ends.