Three Tight Ends You Can Trust in 2016
Consistency at the tight end position can be summed up in two words. Greg Olsen. Olsen has played in 142 consecutive regular season games and is coming off back to back 1,000-yard seasons. But as the title of the article suggests, this installment will be no different than the WRs you can trust, RBs you can trust, or QBs you can trust articles… I will give you three names of guys who will be consistent producers for your fantasy team. After all, in a fantasy league with 10-16 teams, not everyone gets their own personal Greg Olsen.
Rule 86: When Jordan Reed is healthy, he should be in your starting lineup. Consider this: When Reed has played a full game with Kirk Cousins as his QB his average points per game is 18.5 in PPR scoring. To put this number in perspective amongst other top players, since Jordan Reed entered the league in 2013, Adrian Peterson and A.J. Green have averaged just 16.2 and 17.4 points per game respectively. Clearly, when healthy, Jordan Reed is a true difference maker.
Health is the biggest question mark when it comes to Reed. 2016 will be the first time in his career that Reed is entering the season healthy. In his rookie season he missed the start of training camp with a foot injury, he missed the start of 2014 with a hamstring injury, and in 2015 Reed missed OTAs following a procedure on his knee. Now with a full, healthy offseason we are going to see the true potential of Reed.
2015 saw Coby Fleener as part of a frustrating TE by committee where he was forced to share time with Dwayne Allen. If you started the right Indianapolis Colts TE at the right time you probably did alright, though it was essentially a 50-50 proposition. Last year in games in which Allen was not involved, Coby Fleener averaged 11.1 PPG. Fleener now joins Drew Brees and the Saints who love to use the TE. Since Brees joined the team in 2006, the Saints have targeted the TE on 24.1% of their pass attempts. Also during Brees’ tenure, the team has finished in the top 5 in pass attempts in every year but one. Being almost 25% of one of the highest volume offenses is a good thing. Just ask Ben Watson. Over the last 5 seasons, the TE position in New Orleans has averaged 106 receptions for 1,224 yards with 14 TDs.
Fleener’s athleticism and opportunity to be used in an offense that favors pass catching TEs make him a lock to finish as a top TE in 2016. The high volume of targets should without a doubt keep him in the TE1 discussion each and every week.
Just like Fleener, Ertz finds himself in a new system though his uniform hasn’t changed. Philadelphia moved on from Chip Kelly and has brought in new head coach Doug Pederson, an Andy Reid disciple from Kansas City. The change means a drastic uptick in usage for the TE position. Last year Chip Kelly used 3 WR sets on 80.2% of Philadelphia’s plays while Doug Pederson, as offensive coordinator in Kansas City, used 3 WRs on just 44.7% of the plays. Fewer receivers means more routes available for the TE position.
In 2015, Pederson used his TE Travis Kelce to the tune of 72 catches for 875 yards. Ertz is basically a Kelce clone. Both are 6’5 255 pounds with a 4.6-4.7 40 time. Even the stat sheets start to look the same. Last season, Ertz had 75 grabs for 853 yards. It makes sense that the first order of business for the Pederson regime in free agency was to sign Ertz to a long-term extension. His 5 year $42.5 million contract is good for top 5 in the league amongst TEs. He is their guy and they will look to lean on him in a passing game that is lacking a clear-cut #1 WR.
The best part about drafting Zach Ertz is that currently, you can do so in the 10th round. At this price Ertz represents extreme value and should be in consideration for those of you who wait on the position.
As I write this article these players are healthy, but with training camps underway and the preseason just around the corner, you need to make sure you are up to date the most recent injury news and notes. The Ultimate Draft Kit is the best place to find this information as well as everything else you need for your draft.