Daily Fantasy Football Tight End Primer: Week 1
The great thing about daily fantasy football is that so much changes every week, with matchups, salaries and projected ownership all varying -- sometimes significantly -- from main slate to main slate. Usually, we have just a handful of days to break down a slate, but that's a lot different in Week 1 as the main slate has been posted for nearly a month.
That gives everyone ample time to plan, redo and (probably) overthink their Week 1 lineups. But after a long offseason, we get to feel that Sunday rush again this weekend. It's here.
At numberFire, we have a plethora of tools to help you as you build your lineups, and something we've added this season is an in-depth look at the four core positions. Before you lock in your rosters, check out our pieces on the quarterback, running back and receiver position.
That leaves tight end, and that's why you're here. Let's take a look at some of the top tight end options on Week 1's FanDuel main slate. In this piece, we'll reference our FanDuel projections, and betting lines come from our heat map.
As was the case a season ago, Kelce is likely to be a top play at the tight end position every week. Even in a road matchup with one of the NFL's top defenses, our models have Kelce as the main slate's top tight end, projecting him for 13.1 FanDuel points.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars figure to be very stout against the pass, a lot of that is due to their stud corner duo of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. The tight coverage of those two on the outside funnels targets elsewhere, and that's part of the reason the Jags gave up eight touchdowns to tight ends a year ago, tied for the fifth-most.
Kelce didn't find paydirt against Jacksonville in 2018, but he hauled in five of eight targets for an even 100 yards. The Kansas City Chiefs' star tight end had at least nine targets in 12 of 16 games last year, and KC is tied for the second-largest implied total on the slate (27.0) as 3.5-point road favorites.
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers ($7,300)
Whew -- Kittle checks a lot of boxes this week.
On the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers have a 24.75-point implied total. The over/under in this game is up to 50.5, tied for the highest on the slate. Tampa Bay gave up the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends (11.2) last season, and this is a San Fran offense that's still light on pass-game weapons outside of Kittle.
What's not to love?
The only blemish here is that Kittle could wind up being the slate's highest-owned tight end as this clash figures to be a popular game stack. The masses may flock to Jameis Winston and one of his pass-catchers and then run it back with Kittle.
Our models have Kittle pegged for 12.7 FanDuel points, second-best at the position.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,500)
Sticking with that same game, let's touch on Howard. A popular breakout candidate in season-long leagues, Howard has a chance to start the campaign with a bang thanks to a dope matchup with the Niners, a defense we have as the third-worst against the pass.
While Howard will be competing for targets with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, he should still get plenty of volume as the Bucs lack a good third wideout and are weak in the backfield. All three could eat this season, though predicting their splash games may be hard to do.
They'll have a good shot to go off here with Tampa holding a 25.25-point implied total. This game could end up being a shootout, and as we just mentioned, it'll be a popular game to stack. If you want to load up on this game but not swallow chalk, you could pair Kittle with Jimmy Garoppolo while adding Howard in a flex spot.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers ($6,100)
The Indianapolis Colts' defense made some strides last season, but one area where they struggled was against tight ends. Indy gave up the third-most FanDuel points per game (12.7) to the position while allowing the most receptions (106) and the most yards (1,204).
This is a plum spot for Henry, and with the three aforementioned tight ends in attractive spots -- plus Howard being just $400 more -- he could go a tad under-owned.
Our models have Henry as the TE5 for the week, forecasting him for 9.0 FanDuel points, and the Chargers 25.5-point implied total is a solid enough number.
Value Dart Throw
Charles Clay, Arizona Cardinals ($4,200)
When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals, we know a few things -- they're going to spread it out, and they're going to (try to) run a lot of plays. That should make their games extremely fantasy-friendly affairs for both them and their opposition.
Christian Kirk, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald figure to eat up a lot of the targets in this Arizona offense, but in what could be a high-scoring game (45.5-point total), there's room for Clay to get in on the action.
Ricky Seals-Jones was something of a surprising cut at the end of camp, so the tight end position belongs to Clay and Maxx Williams. Detroit has what our models project to be the seventh-worst overall D as well as the seventh-worst pass defense.
We didn't get to see much of this air-raid show in the preseason, so maybe Clay barely sees the field -- who knows. But this matchup has the makings of a shootout, and if Clay gets a decent amount of playing time, he'll have a shot to produce. It's not like he's a bum. Prior to last year, he'd gone for at least 500 yards in five straight seasons.
Whenever you dip down this low at tight end, you're risking a dud, but rolling with a super cheap tight end this week is sure to give you a unique roster construction.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles ($7,100)
With Kittle, Kelce and Howard likely to be popular, Ertz could go under-owned this week. Our models have him as the TE3, though, and we know what kind of touchdown upside he brings to the table, scoring 16 times over the last two years, including a pair of two-tud games in 2018, a year in which he got at least eight targets in 12 of 16 games.
The Philadelphia Eagles are massive 10.5-point favorites with a slate-high 27.5-point implied total at home against Washington, and it's truly a matchup of one of the best against one of the worst, per our numbers. Philly could maul them, and if things get out of hand, it could lead to a run-heavy approach later in the game.
But if you plug in Ertz, the hope is he contributes to the Eagles' lead, and he's shaping up as an under-the-radar option with Kelce, Howard and Kittle likely to see good ownership. You could even roster Ertz alongside one of those tight ends for a unique lineup construction.