There’s no doubt that tight end is now a make or break position in fantasy football. But how do you pick your starter? Strategies abound as Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part two of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
Jimmy Graham certainly remains a tight end for 2014, and he is the far and away king of the position. However, there are actually a number of really talented tight ends in the league right now. Julius Thomas, Vernon Davis, Jordan Cameron and a healthy Rob Gronkowski are all game-changers in their own right. So is it worth actually reaching for one of these top tight ends for the first time in fantasy history?
Other than a the one keeper league where I own Graham, I have always been under the impression that it makes sense to wait and wait and wait for your tight end, and then wait some more. Before the age of the TE mismatch, even top guys were inconsistent and unreliable. Marcedes Lewis would score ten touchdowns in 2010 and collect zero the next season. But now, there are legitimate stars at the position.
Of course, I can’t bring myself to “waste” a third-round pick on a tight end when the depth at the position rivals the depth at wide receiver. I’d rather take a receiver and grab my tight end late. Players like Martellus Bennett, Zach Ertz and Antonio Gates are outside the top ten at the position and well worth waiting for.
So which is the right course of action here regarding tight ends? Do you use a top thirty pick on one of the elite guys, trusting he’ll remain elite? Do you grab one of the later guys, in the 10-20 range at the position? Or do you forget about grabbing a starter at all? Tight end is streamable if you keep up with waivers, especially considering there are a number of teams with multiple tight ends worth owning.
I feel as though I lean towards the second option. But its partially because of the stigma attached to the tight end position. You rattled off Jimmy Graham’s numbers previously. If the same numbers being put up by these top tight ends were being put up by receivers, I think I’d like the players more. There is just something about the “tight end” that makes me not believe sustained success is possible. I have no data to back up this claim. It’s an inclination I’ve picked up after owning Jason Witten for two years.
Another sorry Dallas Cowboys’ supporter, at least when it comes to Jason Witten. I won’t tell the other New York Giants fans, don’t worry. I’m going to correct your line of thinking in regards to tight ends. There WAS a strong stigma associated with players at the position, but it has been slowly dying season after season for at least five to seven years now. The stigma was once warranted, and in regards to fantasy football specifically, it was definitely a mantra to live by. But as you noted, there are now many reliable fantasy scorers at tight end. Let the stigma die. Let it fly away to heaven or hell, never to return. Tight ends are now dual threat players, mutant creations of two or three other positions on the field. And my draft strategy heading into the 2014 fantasy football season will follow suit and be its own evolution of sorts.
I hate to call you out, but you noted that you prefer option two when figuring out what to do about drafting your tight ends. You also proposed three options. I’m going out on a short limb here and guessing you’ll be grabbing a later round tight end. You’re too adept a fantasy player to not grab a starter at all. I’d love to see how that worked out for you, mainly because I find it foolish.
My strategy for drafting a tight end will be both. Much like how the position has evolved, so has the value of its players. Fantasy owners are confused, often pick based on name recognition alone or completely forget about their tight end until that final pick right before taking a kicker. I’m setting aside that weird exception from our draft last year, where an owner inexplicably drafted their kicker in round three. Back to reality. I’m going to grab a top five tight end by the end of round three and then select a late round player as well.
The top five at tight end are so far and away better than players ranked ten or lower, I have to pick one. They have all proved themselves reliable point scorers and are go to players on offense. Grabbing one sets your team ahead of anyone who decides to wait for the second tier tight end talent. I’m also grabbing a tight end later in the draft. Its simple supply and demand. I’ll be taking a flyer on a second tight end, hoping he blossoms into another star. I get a major trade commodity when dealing with the owners who went with option two, plus I get a solid backup for my starter. Gone are the days of grabbing whichever tight end is available off waivers. The dividing line is much greater and I want injury protection and a sure-fire scorer all season long.