Fantasy Football Slack and Forth: Tight Ends to Fade in 2020

As is the case most seasons, figuring out the 2020 fantasy football tight end group is a bewildering task. Luckily, we've got a piece on how to navigate the position. With that said, knowing which players to fade is crucial to a successful approach -- that's what this article will tackle.

This year, only eight tight ends -- Travis Kelce (17.63), George Kittle (21.09), Mark Andrews (46.10), Zach Ertz (53.10), Darren Waller (67.26), Evan Engram (84.34), Tyler Higbee (86.53), and Hunter Henry (97.36) have average draft positions (ADP) inside the top 100, according to BestBall10s. Since whiffing on a pick outside the top 100 shouldn't make or break your team, we'll focus primarily on the pool of players going inside the top 100.

In order to figure out which players to pass on, I once again Slacked (Slack chatted? Chat Slacked? Slatted?) with fellow numberFire editor and noted Jack Doyle enthusiast Austan Kas.

Here's what we had to say.

Elisha Twerski: Just eight tight ends are currently being drafted inside the top 100. Are there any in particular that you're down on?

Austan Kas: I'll admit that I don't really care a ton about the tight end position, and in most of my drafts, I'll be either taking a guy in the TE10-12 range or streaming the position -- or both! I probably won't want to pay up for Kelce or Kittle, and if I don't get them, I'm going to wait.

That strategy plays into my biggest fade at the position this year, which is Zach Ertz. I think Ertz's days of being an elite tight end are over, and while he's much cheaper than Kelce and Kittle, he's still going 53rd overall in July drafts at BestBall10. That's way too rich for me.

The Philadelphia Eagles should have DeSean Jackson back, Dallas Goedert is emerging and first-rounder Jalen Reagor is in the fold, too. And I think the corpse of Alshon Jeffery is still around, as well, if he can get healthy. In short, there are more options for Carson Wentz than what we've seen in recent years.

Ertz should still be solid -- we have him as our TE5 -- but I think you can get similar production for a lot cheaper. Players like Hunter Henry (97th overall) and Hayden Hurst (103) are going much later, and we have Ertz scoring about four more standard-league points than Henry and roughly 25 more than Hurst. Tight end isn't as shallow as it's been in past years, so it lessens the need to pay up for the pricey-but-not-elite guys. That's Ertz in 2020, and I'll be fading.

Oh, and something else I should mention is that the opportunity cost of taking Ertz at his current ADP is missing out on guys like D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Keenan Allen and Cam Akers. I'd rather have those guys than Ertz.

I'm just trying to make sure you can't get in a word here.

Elisha Twerski: I'm right there with you on Ertz.

The idea of investing in a tight early is gaining a scoring advantage that you otherwise might not have. I'd argue that you're not getting that by spending a top-60 pick on Ertz.

On a points-per-game basis, Ertz would have finished as the RB24 and WR29 last year in half-PPR. He scored 10 points or fewer in more than half his games. That won't cut it.

Like you said, the opportunity cost is just not worth it.

See, I got a word in!

Austan Kas: So who is someone at the position that you're staying away from right now?

Elisha Twerski: Though I’d take him ahead of Ertz any day, I won’t be going for Mark Andrews at his current price for many of the reasons I just outlined.

With Andrews, you’d need to spend a top-50 pick – that’s a steep price to pay for little advantage.

Andrews’ weekly upside is undeniable, as evidenced by his five top-three weekly finishes at the position, but he also had nine weeks where he was the TE8 or worse.

There’s a very good chance that both Andrews’ ceiling and floor take a hit in 2020. Since 1992, there have been only 13 instances where a tight end scored at least 10 touchdowns on 100 targets or fewer -- on average, the ones not named Rob Gronkowski recorded 7.0 fewer scores the next season. It makes sense -- a touchdown rate like that is just unsustainable.

There’s also the concern of usage. We’re talking about a guy who played less than 50% of snaps in 9 of 15 contests on a team with the lowest pass-to-run ratio in the league. That’s not a great combination.

As is the case with Ertz, I think the opportunity cost of selecting Andrews makes it a hard pick to swallow.

Do you feel the same about Andrews? Or are you comfortable with his ADP?

Austan Kas: I like Andrews more than Ertz, but I agree with a lot of what you said. In general -- and we talked about this in our chat on tight end strategy a little while back -- I think it's a good year to go elite (Kelce/Kittle) or wait a while. Most of the mid-range tight ends look like bad buys to me.

Like you said, you're just not getting the advantage you're paying for unless some of these guys outperform what we're expecting.

Elisha Twerski: Exactly.

I also find myself passing on Evan Engram in every mock I do.

Sure, Engram has upside, but I don’t want to spend a top-100 pick on a player who failed to reach double-digit points in 11 of his 19 games the last two seasons – and it’s 19 games because he’s missed 13 of his last 32 contests.

It’s not as if the New York Giants are dearth of targets. They’ve got Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate pining for looks.

Is there any other tight end you want to touch on? Or is Ertz the only one you feel so strongly about?

Austan Kas: Well, like I said, most of the mid-range tight ends are guys I'm not really into at their price, but Ertz is the fade I have the most conviction on. I also think Rob Gronkowski is another guy I probably won't have much of. I just worry about so many things with him -- the long layoff, the target competition and his health -- that I don't think he's worth the risk.

Any other tight end fades you want to highlight?

Elisha Twerski: At an ADP of 118.7, I'm actually OK with Gronk. He's not as old as I thought before I actually looked up his age, and perhaps the layoff will give him fresh legs.

I think that covers the fades for me. I'm not going to advocate for fading any of the late-round tight ends because they all bring something to the table and won't cost you much.

Austan Kas: Imagine trying to make an argument for fading Jack Doyle.

Elisha Twerski: I wouldn't dare. I don't want to get blocked.