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Overvalued and Undervalued Tight Ends

By Jason Katz | 7/28/20 |

Rest assured someone at some point during each of your drafts will utter some variation of the words ďvalue pick.Ē But what exactly is a value pick? What is value? Value is a relative term that changes based on public perception. When I consider value, Iím looking for a positive return on my investment. Just because a player has an a fourth round ADP and is still sitting there in the sixth round does not make him good value. At the same time, taking a player a round or two above his ADP is not necessarily bad value. Again, everything is relative.

My goal in every pick I make is to take a player I believe will perform at a level above where I drafted him. Last season, Darren Waller had a 13th round ADP. This year, he has a fifth round ADP. Waller gave owners one hell of a positive return on investment. On the flip side, O.J. Howard had a fifth round ADP. This year, he is going undrafted. Thatís the type of pick we all hope to avoid.

Letís take a look at which TEs I expect to outperform their ADPs and which I expect to fail.


Dallas Goedert

Dallas Goedert, Eagles
ADP: 13.04, TE16

The case for Goedert being undervalued: He was a low end TE1 in 2019 despite being a backup to Zach Ertz.

The case against Goedert being undervalued: Heís still behind Zach Ertz, which could cap his upside.

Verdict: This is a bet on opportunity catching up to talent. Dallas Goedert is one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL. Heís a massive human at 6í5, 256 lbs with 73rd percentile burst and 79th percentile agility. Goedert was the TE10 last season with just a 69.3% snap share and 15.6% target share. Yet, for some reason, heís currently being drafted at the very end of fantasy drafts as the TE16. Even if nothing changes for Goedert this season, thereís no reason to believe he canít be a back end TE1 once again. Goedert remains a massive red zone target. He scored just one fewer touchdown (5) than his teammate, Zach Ertz (6).

The Eagles enter the 2020 season with a lot of questions at wide receiver. DeSean Jackson is 34 years old and played just three games last season. Alshon Jeffery may not even make the team. Greg Ward was signed off the street in the middle of last season. Jalen Reagor is very talented, but heís a rookie attempting to learn a new offense and develop chemistry with his quarterback without a minicamp and preseason games. The Eagles are going to run a ton of 12 and 22 personnel, keeping Goedert on the field with Ertz. It would not surprise me if Goedert was third on the team in targets.

We have a bunch of reasons to believe in Goedert and I havenít even mentioned Goedertís potential if Ertz were to get hurt. Goedert is a high end TE1 in any game Ertz misses. If you wait on tight end this season target guys like Goedert at the very end of your draft.

Jonnu Smith, Titans
ADP: 13.11, TE19

The case for Smith being undervalued: After three seasons behind Delanie Walker, itís Jonnu Smithís time to shine.

The case against Smith being undervalued: The Titans remain a run-first offense and the passing game will funnel through A.J. Brown.

Verdict: Jonnu Smith is entering his fourth NFL season and heís still just 25 years old. Smith has elite athleticism with upper percentile speed, burst, and a massive catch radius. Last season, Smith averaged 3.34 FPts/G in games where Delanie Walker played and 8.8 FPts/G when Walker did not play. The latter would have put him at TE13 for the season. Even if he doesnít improve at all, Smith is a good bet to provide at least some value at his ADP.

Smith should improve, though. The Titans offense was more efficient once Ryan Tannehill supplanted Marcus Mariota at quarterback. Smith scored just three touchdowns last season and recorded an 11.1% target share. For context, Walkerís target share in the six games he played last season was 18.8%. Thereís every reason to believe Smithís target share can meet or exceed Walkerís. Thereís also reason to believe Smith, in his fourth season, playing the most difficult position in the NFL to master, with his first full offseason as the unquestioned starter, will make a leap in ability. The Titans starting tight end offers considerable upside and zero downside.


Darren Waller, Raiders
ADP: 5.07, TE5

The case for Waller being overvalued: The Raiders added multiple offensive weapons that may reduce Wallerís target share.

The case against Waller being overvalued: Waller was the runaway target leader on the Raiders last season and could retain that role in 2020.

Verdict: If you read this article last year, you may remember I had Darren Waller in the Undervalued section and he was an absolute smash. I said he may command 80-90 targets and he ended up with 117. The next highest targeted Raider was Hunter Renfrow with 71. While I still love Waller as a talent and believe he will be an excellent tight end for the Raiders, Iím not interested in him as a fantasy option with his fifth round price tag. Aside from the opportunity cost of passing on the tremendous WR value where Waller is going, there are just too many reasons to fade Waller at his cost.

On the macro level, mid-round TEs are typically a bad value. You either want the elite of the elite (the Kittles and Kelces of the world) or to throw late-round darts (like Waller in 2019).

Waller broke out at age 27 after converting from wide receiver. Heís had exactly one productive NFL season. I believe it is legitimate, but I must acknowledge the chance Iím wrong making a fifth round pick too rich for me.

Waller seems unlikely to have a better season than he did in 2019. He saw 117 targets and posted a 76.9% catch rate on his way to being the TE6 last season. He did score just three touchdowns when five or six shouldíve been the likely outcome.

With that being said, positive touchdown regression would correlate with a sustained target share. With the addition of Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Lynn Bowden Jr., and Jason Witten, itís hard to imagine Wallerís targets not coming down. With reduced targets, heís simply not going to be able to replicate his 13.6 FPts. Waller is going to be a fine fantasy TE this year, but he is being drafted at his ceiling and overvalued in the fifth round.

Evan Engram, Giants
ADP: 6.01, TE6

The case for Engram being overvalued: The Giants have an inaccurate quarterback and four other capable pass catchers.

The case against Engram being overvalued: Despite the abundance of pass catchers, Engram has top three upside if he could stay healthy.

Verdict: While target competition is a concern for Evan Engram with the Giants also featuring Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton, Engramís production on the field not my primary concern. I do believe Engram will be a top six TE when he plays. The problem is the lack of playing football. Since Week 16 of 2017, Engram has sustained seven different injuries, with the most recent one being a Week 9 mid-foot sprain resulting in Lisfranc surgery. Engram has missed 13 of a possible 32 games the past two seasons.

Living in New York and being a previous advocate of Engram, Iíve watched him play a lot Ė he runs dangerously and does very little to protect himself from big hits or awkward falls. I hate throwing the term ďinjury proneĒ around because it is severely overused, but Engram is definitely a reckless player likely to find himself on the injury report.

Reiterating the point about mid-round TEs being a bad value, Engram just isnít worth a sixth round pick. If you put his eight games in 2019 against final season numbers, Engram would have finished as the TE6. I wonít say heís being drafted at his ceiling because I do think Engram has top three upside if he could stay healthy. He actually averaged 2.1 more FPts/G last season than he did during his TE4 finish as a rookie. Unfortunately, I have no confidence in Engram to remain on the field and would not consider him unless he fell considerably in my drafts.

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