Is Tyler Eifert Undraftable in Fantasy Football?
It has been a whirlwind of a day for those of us who dabbled in the Tyler Eifert waters over the offseason.
Tyler Eifert to return sooner than expected? https://t.co/WHhBZm9QvQ
— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) August 26, 2016
Bada bing! The information came from The Cincinnati Enquirer, and they said there was a chance Eifert could be back by Week 1. Nothing can kill this vibe.
#Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, who just started jogging, is targeting Weeks 4-6 for his return from ankle surgery, per source. His hope is Week 4
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 26, 2016
Crap. Wait. Why. Life?
Considering the lack of noise we had heard about Eifert thus far in training camp, the news that he would miss the first three weeks may not have been shocking on its face. But having that slight glimmer of hope earlier in the day only to have it ripped away was simply torturous.
Now that we have some semblance of a timeline for Eifert, we can better assess what his fantasy stock is for the 2016 season. He entered today as the seventh-ranked tight end in terms of average draft position (ADP) on Fantasy Football Calculator, but is he even still worthy of a roster spot? Let's dig in deeper to see.
Once Eifert is healthy, dude could be an absolute beast, and it's not hard to figure out why expectations were so high prior to the injury.
Eifert finished last season ranked sixth among tight ends in scoring in both standard and PPR leagues, according to FantasyData.com, which is impressive by itself. However, he did that on only 74 targets in 13 games. No other player in the top 10 had fewer than 104 targets. Dat efficiency, doe.
While this could be a red flag that Eifert's pace was unsustainable, part of that was nullified by the Cincinnati Bengals' offseason moves. They lost both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to free agency, leaving plenty of targets open for the taking. It's possible Eifert's role in the offense outside of the red zone may have expanded while he maintained his his red-zone freakishness. That's pretty disgusting.
This is why it's understandable that Eifert's ADP remained so high until today's news. He averaged more points per game than every tight end except Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed, and there was some additional room for growth in the re-tooled offense.
Things are wildly different now. We know Eifert's potential, but that doesn't mean he's worth the cost. And even Eifert's eventual reduced ADP will hurt you significantly.
Given that Eifert's definitively missing time now, you can bet his price is going to drop as drafts happen this weekend. For that reason, he could become worthy of a draft pick at his new slot, but we also must consider the opportunity cost of rostering Eifert.
Not only do we take Eifert on our team, but unless we have an injured reserve spot, we're losing a bench position we could use on a running back or a wide receiver. Because of the uncertainties that exist across the league leading into the first regular season games, we want to have as many of these guys as we can possibly get in hopes of landing someone whose role rapidly expands. With Eifert sitting on our bench and unusable, we lose one last crack at a high-upside player, and we do need to consider that.
Additionally, there's a bit of a risk in holding Eifert even if we have an injured reserve slot. If one of our top-end guys goes down in Week 1, we'll need to scramble to the wire to replace him. We'll then either have to cut Eifert or carry a pair of injured guys and -- again -- lose an extra shot at upside. No matter what the conditions, there's risk to be had in selecting Eifert.
This is all before we mention the possibility that Eifert isn't ready to go in Week 4. The report said Eifert would miss the next four to six weeks, meaning he could debut as late as Week 6 without setbacks. It's not a sure thing yet that Eifert misses just three games (plus the team's Week 9 bye week rules out yet another game right off the bat).
Does all of this mean that Eifert is completely undraftable? Absolutely not.
This is dependent on what type of league you're in. If it's a 12-team league in which you're allotted a few extra bench spots, then the opportunity cost of losing a bench spot is lowered a bit. That could allow you to snag Eifert late, stash him until he's healthy, and then bask in his production when he returns.
Additionally, the injured reserve spot does still change the equation, even if it's not perfect. It's entirely possible you could go those first few weeks without any major dings, in which case you'll come out looking pretty. That's at least a possibility we should weigh.
As long as you are aware of the heavy cost Eifert holds, he can be worth a late-round selection. If your league fits the conditions mentioned above with extra bench spots or an injured reserve, and you're feeling pretty comfortable with your team, then you can shoot for the upside with Eifert. This just seems to be a situation that isn't likely to unfold given how things have shaken out so far.
Right now, Ladarius Green is the 15th tight end off the board, and there were questions about his potential retirement only a few weeks ago. If Green can stay as high as he is, you can bet that Eifert will still be taken around that range, and he's simply not worth that cost in his situation.
If ADPs unfold this weekend where Eifert is essentially free at the end of a draft, you can make the argument that he's worth the opportunity cost. However, this specific scenario just seems unlikely right now, and that's why you're better off letting someone else snag this touchdown-magnet of a man, no matter how talented he may be.