Bargains and busts in redraft leagues are inevitable. Every year the hype train barrels down the tracks for certain players that end up being huge busts. Conversely, every year there are diamonds in the rough or values that are too good to pass on. The 2020 season is no different.
The tight end group, similar to that of the running back position, is thin. If you don’t snag Travis Kelce or George Kittle in the first few rounds, do not fret. You can still find a more than a competent tight end in the later rounds. Players at the position that can be had in round three or later include Evan Engram, Hayden Hurst, or Hunter Henry.
TE Bargain: Jared Cook (TE 11, ADP 113.8)
For redraft bargains and busts tight end we start with our bargain. Likely because of his age, Jared Cook is often overlooked in fantasy circles. It is easy to forget he was the TE1 from Week 10 onward last season. A healthy Drew Brees makes all the difference in the world.
A Look at the Numbers
Using the player stats available here at Draft Buddy, we can see the veteran tight end outpaced the “big three” of Kelce, Kittle, and Zach Ertz once his competent quarterback returned. Not to knock Teddy Bridgewater, but he is no Brees. Meanwhile, the other tight ends had a full allotment of games with their starting signal-caller.
|1. Jared Cook, NO||85.3||12.2||7||237||51.1||36||26||493||19.0||6|
|2. Mark Andrews, BAL||80.2||11.5||7||180||39.3||40||26||382||14.7||7|
|3. Travis Kelce, KC||71.9||12.0||6||404||94.2||57||45||539||12.0||3|
|4. Zach Ertz, PHI||62.9||10.5||6||392||85.2||60||42||389||9.3||4|
|5. George Kittle, SF||60.6||12.1||5||273||93.2||43||32||426||13.3||3|
|6. Tyler Higbee, LAR||54.0||9.0||6||328||77.5||54||43||480||11.2||1|
Those are some pretty impressive numbers from a 33-year-old vet. Granted, Cook played more games than the others, but you cannot discount the fact that he was efficient once the offense got their leader back.
Been There, Done That
The journeyman has a TE1 finish in each of the last three seasons after being miscast in Tennessee and used sparingly with the Rams. Injuries derailed his short time with the Green Bay Packers. When used correctly by both the Raiders and the Saints, the star has shone. Looking at the yearly player data app via Dynasty League Football, we see how it has shaken out over the course of his career.
There is no reason to believe a healthy Brees and a healthy Cook cannot recreate the fantasy magic enjoyed from Week 10 on in 2019.
In Good Hands
The news was not all bad without Brees at the helm. As mentioned, Bridgewater was a serviceable backup and Jameis Winston is in town now if anything were to happen to the former Chargers quarterback. In four games without his main guy, Cook still posted TE1 numbers, albeit not as pretty. At this position, it is hard to be too particular.
Using the newly revamped splits app over at DLF, we see the biggest drop off was in yards per target. That should not be an issue in 2020 if Winston is forced into action. This is just a little added security blanket added to your value pick. You can certainly do worse than Cook in the 10th round of your redraft league.
TE Bust: Tyler Higbee (TE 8, ADP 88.4)
The redraft bargains and busts tight end continues with our bust. There is a ton of hype around Tyler Higbee after the historic finish to 2019. The question is will he be able to repeat or sustain that pace? The Rams will likely run more 12 personnel this season leading people to believe the answer is yes. The contract extension also screams buy. So why the reservations?
Small Sample Size
As mentioned above, the end of the season was historical for Higbee. The veteran tight end went over 84 yards in four straight games. This helped account for 107.2 of his season total 160.4 PPR points. That is where the concern starts to creep in. This also coincided with Gerald Everett missing time.
Going back to the well with the DLF splits app, we see that Higbee was still on a 16 game pace to be a TE1, but was THE TE1 when Everett was out. Even when his injured counterpart returned, Everett only played 4 snaps over the final two games of the season while “active.”
Out of Nowhere
While it was certainly fun to watch, especially for those who rostered him and likely won championships because of it, only four times prior in 63 games did Higbee produce a TE1 finish. The weekly position finish chart from DLF shows just how bad it really had been up until the end of last season.
Tight ends do historically take the longest to develop at the NFL level and maybe this was the beginning of a great career for the Western Kentucky grad. It would be great to see. It is just hard to buy at this price with the risk associated with it.
Thank you for reading to those of you that have followed this redraft bargains and busts series. The hope is this breakdown helps steer you towards some value during your upcoming draft. You may not have the chance to grab a stud early, but you can still find a TE1 a little later. Just try to avoid the land mines, as you would at any position.
As mentioned in the open, the position is scarce. We can wait until rounds nine or ten and still find a serviceable TE1. Feel free to leave comments below and I will respond as soon as possible.