3 Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming Options for Week 1
The story of the tight end position is a tale similar to every sports offseason. There's annual optimism in advance of the season. Yet, optimism turns into reality without fail, and every team isn't playing for a championship. Or, in the case of tight ends, the many mid- and late-round breakout candidates fail to materialize into weekly contributors.
Some gamers understand this reality and pounce on an early-round stud. Others recognize it and intend on streaming out of the chute. Still, others arrive in the streaming group unwittingly after their middle-tier or late-round dart throw flops.
Regardless of how you got here, this is your weekly home for streaming options. Below you'll find three widely available options for Week 1.
Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 17%
Blake Jarwin's 2020 campaign was cut short in the opener by a torn ACL. He's back. Unfortunately for him, he'll likely rotate at tight end with Dalton Schultz, who stepped up in his absence. Still, Jarwin's athleticism tops Schultz's, as you can see comparing Jarwin's workout metrics to Schultz's at their respective linked Player Profiler pages.
Additionally, we have evidence of Jarwin performing at a higher level than Schultz. For example, out of 49 tight ends targeted at least 25 times last year, Schultz tied for 28th with 0.25 Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per target. In comparison, out of 50 tight ends reaching the same threshold in 2019, Jarwin ranked 14th with 0.40 Target NEP per target.
Jarwin also holds a decisive edge in yards per route run in 2019 over Schultz's 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, Jarwin's 1.83 yards per route run was ninth-highest among tight ends targeted at least 25 times. Comparatively, Schultz's 1.11 yards per route run in 2020 ranked tied for 36th.
As for the offense Jarwin's operating in, that's a check in the pros column for using him, as well. According to Sharp Football Stats, when the scoring margin ranged between trailing by seven points and leading by seven points in Week 1 through Week 5 (Dak Prescott's weeks starting), the Dallas Cowboys passed at the second-highest rate (64 percent). Using the same parameters, Sharp Football Stats also had the Cowboys playing at by far the fastest pace, running a play 3.3 seconds faster than the second-fastest rate.
Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 16%
The Tennessee Titans changed offensive coordinators this offseason. The Atlanta Falcons hired Arthur Smith to be their head coach, leaving Todd Downing to move up the coordinator pecking order for this year's team. The change coupled with moving personnel pieces could change the look of the offense. Still, Tennessee's offense was one of five to average more than 30 points per game, so there's a disincentive for Downing to meddle too much.
On that note, last year, the Titans tied for running 12-personnel (one running back, two tight ends, and two receivers) at the highest clip (35 percent), according to Sharp Football Stats. In other words, they're not shy about keeping two tight ends on the field, alleviating concerns about Anthony Firkser trailing Geoff Swaim on the team's first depth chart and recent rendition.
As for Firkser's bona fides, he ranked seventh at his position in yards per route run (1.67) and 12th in Target NEP per target (0.48) in 2020, using the same 25 target threshold cited above. Further, out of Ryan Tannehill's 54 pass attempts 15 yards to scoring or closer last year, six were directed Firkser's way, third-most on the team. Last year's leader, tight end Jonnu Smith, paced the team with a whopping 16 that he parlayed into a team-leading eight touchdowns from that area of the field. Smith's since left via free agency to join the New England Patriots, opening the door for Firkser to command a share of the workload he left behind.
This week, Firkser projects to finish as TE15 in half-PPR and TE16 in full-PPR formats. I'm in alignment with the projection algorithm, placing him firmly in the streaming mix.
Jordan Akins, Houston Texans
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 0%
If you feel as if you've read a hype piece about Jordan Akins in this space during the offseason, you're not mistaken. I penned a piece back in late July, touting him as a last-round pick for a season-opening matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The cliff notes version is that Akins has teased potential through his first three years, sharing intriguing company in yards per target, specifically. I suggest checking out the linked piece for further details.
Anyway, my stance hasn't changed regarding Akins' potential for a breakout this year. In fact, the team's since dealt Randall Cobb to the Green Bay Packers, removing one hurdle for targets. As for this week, he has a juicy matchup with the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks as the eighth-worst pass defense in the team power rankings.
Perhaps the biggest knock on Akins is his attachment to the lowly Houston Texans. However, Houston's implied total of 21.00 points isn't a bottom-five mark, barely avoiding that distinction, as you can see on the heat map. In addition, the Texans are 2.5-point underdogs, creating the potential for a negative game script ticking the team's pass attempts up a notch.
It probably feels like I'm damning him with faint praise, but he has a legitimate shot to battle for second-fiddle honors in Houston's passing game behind top wideout Brandin Cooks. That's a role that could bear fruit on the presumptive favorite to hold the top pick in next year's draft. Streaming Akins has the added benefit of him potentially sticking if his Week 1 usage is encouraging.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.