Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      

Overvalued and Undervalued Tight Ends

By Jason Katz | 7/30/21 |

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 fifth round ADP. This year, he has a second round ADP. The rise in ADP is due entirely to his performance. Waller gave owners one hell of a positive return on investment. On the flip side, Zach Ertz also had a fifth round ADP. This year, he is going undrafted mostly due to his poor performance. 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.


Tyler Higbee

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
ADP: 11.04, TE15

The case for Higbee being undervalued: He has a proven TE1 ceiling and Gerald Everett is gone.

The case against Higbee being undervalued: After his torrid finish to 2019, Higbee was barely a TE2 in 2020.

Verdict: This is less about Tyler Higbee and more about the other tight ends ahead of him. Travis Kelce and Darren Waller both provide fantasy managers with a clear edge at the position. George Kittle does as well, but to a lesser extent. Beyond those three, the separation between TEs is much smaller. Higbee averaged 8.4 FPts/G last season, but also had just a 56.7% route participation and 11.3% target share. The reason for this was Gerald Everett, who had a 46.7% route participation and an identical 11.3% target share. Higbee was splitting the role and being asked to block a lot. While heís still going to be used as a blocker this season, it is rational to project an increase in routes run.

The Rams also have an excellent offensive line, which should allow Higbee to spend more time running routes. We can also expect a relatively consolidated target distribution, with the focal point of the passing game being Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and then, Higbee.

Following the devastating news about Cam Akers, the kneejerk reaction was to pencil Darrell Henderson as the primary beneficiary. While thatís certainly going to be the case, itís likely the Rams just up the passing volume a bit, especially given the upgrade at quarterback from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford. Higbee just needs to increase his FPts/G by one or two points to get to around 10 FPts/G, which is where the vast majority of low TE1s lie. I like Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, and Logan Thomas, but by no means are they 3-4 rounds more valuable than Higbee. If you donít take one of the big three, you can wait and grab Higbee in the double-digit rounds.

Jonnu Smith, Titans
ADP: 12.06, TE16

The case for Smith being undervalued: Although heís on a new team, the Patriots have no clear alpha pass catcher, leaving the door open for Jonnu to ascend.

The case against Smith being undervalued: The Patriots signed Hunter Henry, who could just as likely be the primary TE in New England.

Verdict: Iíve seen enough Twitter debates on Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry over who is more talented, more likely to be the primary TE, and more likely to be the better fantasy asset than I care to admit. My take on it is I really donít know. Both players are talented and both could lead this team in targets.

So why is Smith undervalued? Because for some reason, heís going 4-5 rounds later than Henry. It just doesnít make any sense. The Patriotsí top three receivers project to be Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne. They are going to run two-TE sets often. It wouldnít shock me if neither was fantasy relevant. It wouldnít shock me if both were fantasy relevant. The simple fact is their ADPs should be much closer than they are. Both have a relatively wide range of outcomes, but included in those outcomes is being a mid-to-low TE1. To take the shot on Henry, we have to pay an eighth or ninth round price. To take the shot on Smith, it costs basically nothing. Give me the cheaper guy.


Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
ADP: 5.03, TE5

The case for Andrews being overvalued: The Ravens are a run-heavy offense that just beefed up their WR corps.

The case against Andrews being overvalued: He averaged 13.9 FPts/G in 2019 and the Ravens should see an uptick in passing volume this season.

Verdict: I couldnít be more out on Mark Andrews this season. The issue is not his rank amongst TEs Ė heís exactly where he should be. The issue is his ADP overall. Why would I spend a fifth round pick on a TE thatís going to average maybe one or two FPts/G more than a random 10th round TE or a streamer?

Last season, Andrews was the TE4, averaging 12.2 FPts/G. The worst TE1 typically averages about 10 FPts/G. Is a 2.2 FPts/G difference worth over five rounds of value? I donít think so.

Additionally, I donít like Andrewsí potential to have any sort of spike season. When drafting a TE other than in the double-digit rounds, I want guaranteed elite production or I want plausible upside. Andrews is a part-time player (67% snap share in 2020) on the most run-heavy offense in the NFL (57% run rate the past two seasons) with the greatest rushing QB of all time that just added three wide receivers, including selecting one in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Where is the path to anything more than 12 or 13 FPts/G for Andrews? Andrews is still clearly a top 5-6 TE, but heís just not multiple rounds better than many TEs ranked below him.

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
ADP: 11.03, TE14

The case for Gesicki being overvalued: Heís a t-shirt and shorts superstar that never plays to his athleticism on the field.

The case against Gesicki being overvalued: He posted a respectable TE8 season in 2020 and could conceivably do it again.

Verdict: There are a lot of factors working against Gesicki repeating his modest mid-TE1 performance from 2020. Although Gesicki was the overall TE8 last year, he averaged just 10.6 FPts/G, just 0.6 FPts/G more than the TE12. The difference between all TEs not named Kelce, Waller, or Kittle was negligible in general.

Gesicki is being drafted six spots lower at the TE position than where he finished last season. So how exactly is he a bad value? First, letís look at how Gesicki got to be the TE8 last season. In Weeks 2, 13, and 14, Gesicki scored over 23 fantasy points in each week, totaling 74.3 points. That accounted for 46.6% of his total fantasy points on the season. Gesicki played in 15 games and scored nearly half his fantasy points in just three of them. He was great for those three weeks where he averaged 24.7 FPts/G. In his other 12 games, he averaged 7.1 FPts/G. You can stream 7.1 FPts/G with the likes of Dan Arnold. For 12 games last season, Gesicki was putting up TE24 numbers. You got elite WR1 level production three times and sub-stream level production the other 12 times. Is that guy even worth drafting? Maybe the three spike weeks sway you a bit. Fair enough.

Second, letís look at what the Dolphins did this offseason. They signed Will Fuller and drafted Jaylen Waddle with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. DeVante Parker remains, and Preston Williams should return as the teamís WR4. At least the first three are definitively ahead of Gesicki in the target hierarchy. You can make a strong case for the running back (presumably Myles Gaskin) and Williams as well. Gesicki only saw 85 targets last season and thereís a decent chance he struggles to surpass that number even with an extra game tacked onto the season.

Finally, we have the quarterback situation. Gesicki averaged 11.6 FPts/G with Ryan Fitzpatrick against just 9.7 FPts/G with Tua Tagovailoa. Gesicki is not expensive in 2021 fantasy drafts, but he comes with a very low ceiling and an equally low chance of hitting it. You should take your shot at hitting on a late-round TE elsewhere.

Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft spreadsheet