NFL DFS – Building Your Lineup: Tight Ends
The tight end position is the most inconsistent position player spot that players will be rostering each week in our lineups. Team defense is a bit more erratic regarding production, but that isn’t a concern for players at every site across the industry.
There are several strategies when it comes to choosing tight ends, and the position as a whole has a unique selection process compared to other spots in your lineup. Without further ado, here are some tips for rostering tight ends in cash games and tournaments.
Tight end scoring is the same as receivers, albeit their production is considerably less in most offenses. However, reception, yardage, and touchdowns are all achieved through the same means. That means when looking for games to target, we can use the same method for other positions.
This means targeting players in games with higher totals and those with implied team totals. If a team is projected to score more points, it clearly makes sense to target their offense. As mentioned in our quarterbacks’ article, it doesn’t matter if the team is an underdog or favorite (although, double-digit favorites can be a worry), we’re just looking for an upper-level point projection.
Tight end can be tougher to predict from a matchup perspective than wide receivers. A linebacker or safety usually covers the tight end, but figuring out who will cover opposing tight ends is a lot more difficult than predicting wide receiver versus cornerback coverage matchups.
Tight ends vary massively in usage depending on the team, so there’s no use sticking a strong defender on a tight end if he’s not a large part of the opposing offense.
On the flip side, if a tight end is a large part of the offense, a team may opt to stick an elite defender on them. This is especially true if the tight end is one of the centerpieces of the offense and is an elite talent compared to other offensive weapons.
High Variance Position
The NFL game, as a whole, is extremely random. DFS players may look for patterns over the course of a season, but 16 games isn’t a large enough sample size to draw any conclusive patterns. We would need considerably more data to establish anything concrete.
We can pick up on the tendencies of some head coaches who have been in the league for a while, but for the most part, there is way too much turnover and personnel changes each year for any team to establish a “pattern” in their play that would be useful for us in DFS.
How does this all tie into the tight end position? Well, tight ends are the least utilized offense position across the league, and it isn’t close. While some teams use tight ends as large parts of their offense, most do not, and many rarely target their TEs in the passing game. Instead, they are essentially used as extra offensive linemen.
Due to their usage being considerably small compared to other positions, their targets fluctuate wildly, along with their production. It also makes predicting their fantasy outcomes significantly tougher.
If you’ve played enough DFS NFL, you’re probably aware of how volatile this position can be. Tight ends may have an enormous week in the box score, but then go underutilized for weeks on end after that. Other positions in your lineup rarely see this type of fluctuation in targets and usage.
Cash Games and Tournaments
Since tight ends are the toughest position to predict week to week in cash games, we need to be careful when paying up at tight end. If we’re going to the middle or upper tier of pricing, we will have to roster players that have a substantial role in the offense, in addition to an excellent matchup that week.
Paying down at tight end or “punting” the position altogether is another viable strategy. Especially if it helps you fit in a stud at another position that you couldn’t seem to do otherwise.
Occasionally, you’ll find several tight ends that you like that week. On sites that offer the flex position, I am not opposed to playing two tight ends, even in cash games. Though the position has plenty of variance, it can be a strong position to look for bargains.
For instance, on DraftKings, the minimum price for tight ends is $2,500, compared to the $3,000 min price for other positions. It seems that tight ends are priced down as a whole at DraftKings, often making them a value and option for the flex spot, despite the high volatility in their production. Although, it’s vital to note that each site is different when it comes to pricing sharpness and algorithm.
The two-TE strategy is in play in tournaments as well. It’s one of the best ways for players to make their lineups unique and different from the rest of the field because many other players don’t consider playing two tight ends.
In tournaments, we can expand our field of available players as we look for higher ceiling plays. The high variance position of tight end makes it one of the best positions to go “off the board” and target players that are rarely making the cut into others’ lineups.