Fantasy Football: The TRUTH About Fantasy TEs in 2018
The last TRUTH episode brings us to everyone’s favorite pile of dumpster trash: the TE position. Unless you had one of the elite options, you likely were playing a “vomit roulette” game, as Jason explained on the podcast. Who was consistent from a fantasy perspective and whose end of season stats are a mirage? Get the full breakdown from Andy, Mike, and Jason on the TE Truth episode.
Editor’s Note: Check out previous TRUTH episodes including QB, RBs and WRs.
The TRUTH Scoring
Player finish, fantasy points, and consistency percentages are based on a minimum 6 games started and 0.5 PPR scoring format.
Great Games are more than 15 points (top 3 on average)
Good Games are more than 9 points (top 10 on average)
Bust Games are fewer than 7 points (outside top 16 on average)
1. Travis Kelce – Consistency Rank #1
103/1336/10 on 150 targets
Great 53% | Good 73% | Bust 7%
Defenses: -1.52 vs Top 16 Pass DEF
10 weeks vs Top 16 (14.75)/6 weeks vs Bot 16 (16.27)
Home (12.49)/Road (18.15) Split: (-5.66) at Home
Kelce was everything you could ask for in an early-round TE. This was his 3rd consecutive season with 1,000+ yards. He’s only the 2nd TE to accomplish that feat in NFL history along with Greg Olsen (2014-2016). Kelce has finished as a top-2 TE in each of his last 3 seasons (2016: #1, 2017: #2, 2018: #1) If you want to see him as a pure pass catcher, he would’ve been the WR9. Kelce was so dominant that there was an 83.5 point differential between the #1 & #5 TE. He will likely be a 2nd round pick in 2019.
2. Zach Ertz – Consistency Rank #3
116/1163/8 on 156 targets
Great 38% | Good 69% | Bust 25%
Defenses: (+3.39) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
8 weeks vs Top 16 (15.59)/8 weeks vs Bot 16 (12.2)
Home (18.91)/Road (8.88) Split: (+10.03) at Home
Ertz was a target machine (156!) due to injuries in the Philadelphia offense as the 6th most targeted player on the season. Ertz had 8 or more targets in 12 of his 16 games, an incredible mark of consistency. The offense runs through him. The Eagles have committed to Carson Wentz, Ertz’s best buddy which is a great sign this fantasy train will continue to roll. He will likely be drafted behind Kelce in the 3rd round in 2019, a slight discount that Jason is willing to take in drafts.
3. George Kittle – Consistency Rank #2
88/1377/5 on 136 targets
Great 31% | Good 69% | Bust 19%
Defenses: (+3.27) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
8 weeks vs Top 16 (14.93)/8 weeks vs Bot 16 (11.66)
Home (13.99)/Road (12.6) Split: (+1.39) at Home
Whoa doctor! Mr. Kittles-N-Bits was a fantasy force for basically free as many (including Andy for $44) snagged him off the waiver wire and rode him all year long. I was pretty pumped about Kittle in the offseason writing George Kittle is a Top-10 TE in the Making… But I had no idea he could post a top-15 all-time fantasy season for TEs and set the record for most TE receiving yards in history. He is a yards-after-the-catch machine! Kittle was consistent with only 5 games scoring under 10 fantasy points, the fewest from any TE this season. While the situation in San Francisco could change (looking at you Antonio Brown), Kittle looks like an elite TE for years to come.
4. Eric Ebron – Consistency Rank #5
66/750/13 on 110 targets
Great 25% | Good 69% | Bust 31%
Defenses: (-1.66) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
8 weeks vs Top 16 (11.97)/7 weeks vs Bot 16 (13.63)
Home (11.63)/Road (13.72) Split: (-2.09) at Home
Much to the joy of Jason Moore and everyone who has been waiting for a breakout for Ebron since he came in the league, HE FINALLY DID IT! Ebron scored at least 1 TD in 10 of 16 games with help coming from a resurgent and Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck. He did have some major bust games but his splits with Jack Doyle shouldn’t concern anyone. In 6 games with Doyle, Ebron averaged 3.67 targets, 3 catches,38 yards, and 1.2 TDs. It helps that the Colts run the 2nd most 2TE sets (behind only Baltimore) in the league. His draft price will be one to monitor but he has made his case to be considered as a steady TE among a pile of mostly trailer trash.
5. Jared Cook – Consistency Rank #8
68/896/6 on 101 targets
Great 31% | Good 44% | Bust 50%
Defenses: (+4.95) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
8 weeks vs Top 16 (12.45)/8 weeks vs Bot 16 (7.5)
Home (13.96)/Road (5.99) Split: (+7.97) at Home
Don’t get too excited about this end of the season stat line. Cook had 4 100-yard games and career highs in every category across the board. But a 50% bust rate is indicative of the kind of TE he is. Cook has been known to start off the year strong and slowly fade into mediocrity almost every year. He is a free agent so the Raiders will have to resign him. John Gruden is a fan remember… But Cook should not be considered draftable until the double digit rounds. Let someone else reach for him based on his 2018 end of season numbers.
6. Austin Hooper – Consistency Rank #14
71/660/4 on 88 targets
Great 13% | Good 38% | Bust 63%
Defenses: (+0.43) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
7 weeks vs Top 16 (8.09)/9 weeks vs Bot 16 (7.66)
Home (7.76)/Road (7.92) Split: (-0.16) at Home
Austin Hooper might never want to come of the show after Andy basically described his own death rather than drafting the Falcons Te. Hooper caught 71 of his 88 targets for 80.7% catch rate, the 4th best by a TE in history with 45+ targets. But he also ranked 23rd among TEs in yards per catch at 9.3. Hooper didn’t string together more than 2 good games together and Travis Kelce had almost twice as many total fantasy points showing that Hooper. He’s fine as a later round pick but likely will end up on your waiver wire.
7. Trey Burton – Consistency Rank #11
54/569/6 on 77 targets
Great 13% | Good 38% | Bust 50%
Defenses: (-0.93) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
8 weeks vs Top 16 (7.04)/8 weeks vs Bot 16 (7.97)
Home (9.3)/Road (5.71) Split: (+3.59) at Home
The Ballers discussed that no-one in the history of the show has ever “lost” their nickname. Trey Boo-Boo essentially was banished and replaced with Trey Poo-Poo after a mostly disappointing fantasy year. He had 13 games of 40 yards or less despite being on a solid Bears offense. He certainly can improve on these numbers but the ship might’ve sailed from the hype surroudning his offseason signing and his role in this Matt Nagy offense.
8. Kyle Rudolph – Consistency Rank #20
64/634/4 on 82 targets
Great 6% | Good 25% | Bust 63%
Defenses: (-1.7) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
8 weeks vs Top 16 (6.61)/8 weeks vs Bot 16 (8.31)
Home (6.73)/Road (8.2) Split: (-1.47) at Home
You need to completely disregard Kyle Rudolph‘s end of season ranking. He was not useable after Week 4 until a Week 16 explosion which propelled him into the top-10. His red zone usage was much different with Kirk Cousins behind center and the chemistry seen with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The “Touchdown Reindeer” is firmly in the land of “blah” TEs.
9. David Njoku – Consistency Rank #17
56/639/4 on 88 targets
Great 6% | Good 31% | Bust 50%
Defenses: (+1.53) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
9 weeks vs Top 16 (8.85)/7 weeks vs Bot 16 (7.32)
Home (7.71)/Road (7.74) Split: (-0.03) at Home
The 2nd-year Browns TE had some exciting moments on the year but ended up with a 50% bust rate. He had 7 games with 35 or fewer yards. If can take another step with a full year with Baker Mayfield, he could lower his bust rate to something like 33% and become a trustworthy TE. The fear is that Njoku will never be the main target in this offense thus lowering his overall ceiling despite his freakish athletic profile.
10. Vance McDonald – Consistency Rank #19
50/610/4 on 72 targets
Great 7% | Good 27% | Bust 67%
Defenses: (-0.5) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
6 weeks vs Top 16 (7.03)/9 weeks vs Bot 16 (7.53)
Home (6.38)/Road (8.43) Split: (-2.05) at Home
While doing the Vance Dance is always a party according to Mike, could you ever really trust him? Only once on the season did he have back to back “good games”. With 7 games under 30 yards and a bust rate of 67%, McDonald is a fun player who would’ve killed your roster more often than not.
11. Rob Gronkowski – Consistency Rank #12
47/682/3 on 72 targets
Great 15% | Good 38% | Bust 54%
Defenses: (-8.47) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
5 weeks vs Top 16 (3.1)/8 weeks vs Bot 16 (11.78)
Home (8.2)/Road (8.72) Split: (-0.52) at Home
Mike went down with the ship proudly after taking his shot in the offseason of walking the plank with Gronk. His draft price (late 2nd/early 3rd round) was costly and when he was healthy, you felt like you had to start him. I mean it’s Gronk! He said he would take a couple weeks after the Patriots’ Super Bowl win to think on his 2019 prospects. Andy believes Gronk will throw in the towel and retire.
12. Evan Engram – Consistency Rank #6
45/577/3 on 64 targets
Great 18% | Good 55% | Bust 36%
Defenses: (+2.72) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
5 weeks vs Top 16 (10.74)/6 weeks vs Bot 16 (8.02)
Home (9.9)/Road (8.72) Split: (+1.18) at Home
Engram is probably the most interesting TE name to decipher their 2018 season. After an impeccable rookie campaign, Engram struggled with injuries but still was the TE7 in fantasy points per game. He also averaged almost 7 more PPR points per game when Odell Beckham Jr. was out. He has the draft pedigree and opportunity to be a top-5 guy.
13. O.J. Howard – Consistency Rank #4
34/565/5 on 48 targets
Great 20% | Good 70% | Bust 30%
Defenses: (-1.98) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
5 weeks vs Top 16 (9.36)/5 weeks vs Bot 16 (11.34)
Home (9.62)/Road (10.83) Split: (-1.21) at Home
Howard was a beast when he played before getting injured in Week 11. He is a physical specimen and someone worth taking a shot in the middle rounds (8-10) if you want an every week TE. Bruce Arians historically has not had much production from the TE position but he’s also never had someone as talented as Howard. The verdict is still out if Jameis Winston has chemistry with his young pass catcher.
15. Chris Herndon – Consistency Rank #10
Consistency Rank only counting Weeks 6-17 (when he played majority of TE snaps)
Great 9% | Good 36% | Bust 45%
39/502/4 on 56 targets
Defenses: (-4.86) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
9 weeks vs Top 16 (4.9)/5 weeks vs Bot 16 (9.76)
Home (9.56)/Road (3.83) Split: (+5.73) at Home
Herndon has a solid rookie season with some rare consistency for a rookie TE. In fact, he submitted a top-30 all-time rookie TE PPR season. Historically the Jets haven’t used the TE but Herndon certainly looks like he will be their guy moving forward after slowly taking over the majority of snaps. He’s doable as a late-round TE while also being cuttable if things don’t work out early.
25. Ian Thomas – Consistency Rank #12
36/333/2 on 49 targets
Great 0% | Good 43% | Bust 57%
Consistency Rank only counting games without Olsen
Defenses: (-1.85) vs Top 16 Pass DEF
4 weeks vs Top 16 (5.22)/6 weeks vs Bot 16 (7.07)
Home (4.57)/Road (8.97) Split: (-4.4) at Home