In the second of a six-part fantasy draft preview series leading up to the NFL season, Fantasy Insanity discusses tight ends, defense/special teams and kickers. Next week: quarterbacks.
All fantasy positions are not created equal. Some produce more points than others. Some are deeper. Some have a greater disparity between the top scorers and potential replacements. And some, essentially, just don’t matter.
For example, does your league still use a kicker? If so, may I ask why? The best of the bunch doesn’t score that much more than the worst, the production is next-to-impossible to project from week to week and there is always a more useful bench guy at a primary position available in during the last round of the draft. Get your commissioner to drop kickers and add a bench spot.
Or defense/special teams. We don’t despise these as much as we do kickers, because there can be strategic advantages if you look hard enough into specific matchups — particularly in DFS. But they aren’t so valuable that you should ever pick one before the last couple of rounds of your draft.
Which brings us to tight ends. This position takes a huge leap into relevance, but still falls into the low-impact category. You don’t, and shouldn’t, have to wait until late in the draft to pick one, but we prefer this route to using a high pick.
It would be great to have Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews or Darren Waller, sure. But we would rather have an additional starting running back or wide receiver at the point in the draft those top tight ends normally go — in the top six rounds.
Instead, the Madman prefers to wait it out. We would rather avoid this season’s 2021 Waller and try to find this season’s Dalton Schultz Some of our favorite targets are Schultz, Dallas Goedert, Dawson Knox, Robert Tonyan and Albert Okwuegbunam. Schultz finished top-three among tight ends last season, yet is being drafted as TE7 this season, although the Cowboys lost Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup’s return from an ACL injury is uncertain.
The problem with getting Schultz is the high volatility of his draft position. He averages middle-fifth round, but he can often go as high as early fourth or as late as early eight. We don’t want him at the high end and everything has to go just right early for us to be comfortable in the middle of his range, but we love him at the back end.
The Eagles’ addition of AJ Brown gives them a legitimate NFL pass-catching threat, which could lure coverage away from others, including Goedert.
We think Knox can turn in a top-10 TE season. He made a nice step forward last season, and can further build on that this year. You do have to worry about QB Josh Allen robbing Knox of some red-zone catches by rushing for touchdowns, but in such a high-powered offense, we’ll take our chances.
We love Tonyan’s TD potential, and Okwuegbunam gets a huge QB upgrade.
If we miss on all of these, we don’t mind taking Cole Kmet fairly late.
Granted when we wait as long as we often do for a TE, we prefer to grab a second to give us some flexibility. And we have a couple of super-late guys who make us smile when we pick them: Tampa Bay’s Cameron Brate or Kyle Rudolph.
Tom Brady no longer has Rob Gronkowski. With Chris Godwin returning from an ACL injury, his health and production will be iffy. But someone is going to be catching passes in this offense. And we like either one of the Buccaneers’ TE options to be touchdown producers, even if they don’t rack up a lot of yards.
So feel free to sit tight before grabbing a tight end. But you don’t have to wait all the way until the end.