In this article, I highlight the tight ends that stand out in our vast suite of analytical fantasy tools, specifically our FantasyLabs player models. Although the templates are designed for DFS contests, this is a fantastic all-rounder article with actionable information for all formats.
As news arrives throughout the week and we adjust our projections, the player ratings in our player models will change. For updates, visit models directly.
Top Tight Ends in FantasyLabs Models
There are three tight ends on top of the individual Pro models that Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon and Ryan Hodge built, as well as our exclusive Cash Game and Tournament models.
Here is where they place in our Fantasy ranking of week 9 (from Wednesday evening):
- Travis Kelce (1st)
- Dallas Goedert (5th)
- Tyler Conklin (15th)
We’ll discuss why these three show up in our models, as well as look at other wide receivers in potential high scoring games.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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Top Model Tight Ends
Travis Kelce ($ 7,000 DraftKings, $ 7,800 FanDuel): Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) vs. Green Bay Packers (48.5 overall)
Zeus has been reduced to a mere mortal for the past five or so weeks, not having passed 20 DraftKings points since week 3. It just goes to show how ridiculous a fantastic Kelce player is that a DraftKings bar of 20 points. seems reasonable. He’s averaged just under 13 DraftKings points per game over the past month. That’s more than any other tight end for that matter Marc Andrews is average over the season, but it remains disappointing for Kelce.
The Chiefs’ offense overall has been ineffective by their standards this season, with Mahomes averaging 7.3 yards per attempt. No player has felt this more than Kelce, whose career-low yards per target. He did not see the increase in volume that Tyreek Hill must not account for it either. Still, with all of that said, he’s still the TE1 in PPR scoring this season.
This week is shaping up to be good for the Chiefs to right the ship. The Packers have the 22nd defense ranked by DVOA in the league. They were also vulnerable at the tight ends, giving 20 points to the Saints’ tight ends as a group as well as to TJ Hockenson, plus 17 to George kittle (his best game of the season). Kansas City is likely to look to Kelce more than usual this week, given the relative strengths of the Packers’ defense.
With the possible exception of Darren waller, no tight end can equal the raw Kelce rise. It’s the cheapest Kelce we’ve seen all year on FanDuel and tied for the cheapest on DraftKings. If we get vintage Kelce this week, it’s going to be a line-up staple. Kelce is leading our five FanDuel models, as well as the DraftKings tournament model this week.
Dallas Goedert ($ 4,500 DraftKings, $ 6,200 FanDuel): Philadelphia Eagles (+1) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (50 overall)
Goedert did not erupt in the way some might have anticipated following the trade in Zach Ertz. He scored 25.2 combined DraftKings points in both games as Philly’s only relevant tight end. It’s still an increase of almost three points from his average with Ertz, so we’re going in the right direction.
One of the challenges has been the Eagles’ transition to a top notch offense. Despite a 3-5 record, they rank in the bottom 10 in terms of the league’s success rate. This makes it unlikely that Goedert will ever see a Kelce or Waller type volume for the Eagles. His seven targets last week against the Lions were a season high.
He might not need that kind of volume to pay, however. He’s second among tight ends (and 20th overall) in yards per reception this year, at 14.9. It’s right in front of players like Cooper Kupp and Mike williams for the context how impressive it is.
At this rate, even approaching double-digit targets would be enough for Goedert. The odds are better than usual this week against the Chargers. The Chargers and Eagles both rank in the top five in the NFL in terms of pace of play (absolutely and situation neutral). While the Chargers are tough against the pass overall (fourth DVOA), they allow a more / less slightly positive opponent with tight ends.
Goedert is significantly undervalued on DraftKings this week, where he runs one of our Pro Models. He is also a solid option in gambling, thanks to his second best Pts / Sal. Its price on FanDuel is a bit too close to the best options to really be considered.
Tyler Conklin ($ 3,000 DraftKings, $ 5,200 FanDuel): Minnesota Vikings (+5.5) at the Baltimore Ravens (49.5 overall)
Like Goedert, Conklin is a much better game on DraftKings than FanDuel. This is usually the case with the cheaper tight ends, thanks to a lower wage floor on DraftKings. On FanDuel, we can usually find the extra salary to move up from one level to higher cap players.
Either way, Conklin runs three of our models on DraftKings, including the Cash Game model. Conklin is surprisingly one of the top 10 tight ends in terms of targets per game this year. As we know, volume is king. Especially for cheaper players, it is difficult for them to fail at a price like Conklin’s with any volume.
Conklin is also due to some regression in efficiency. There are three tight ends (Conklin included) with exactly 297 receiving yards going into Week 9. They have nine touchdowns between them – only one belongs to Conklin. Typically, touchdowns regress towards yardage, not the other way around, so Conklin needs to make it to the end zone.
It’s also a great showdown for the Vikings’ passing game in general, but Conklin in particular. The Ravens send their opponents high into the air, and the biggest beneficiaries of that have been the tight ends. The Wideouts have a plus / minus negative opponent against Baltimore, but for the tight ends it’s a positive of 3.2 (narrowly missing the top score on the slate of 3.4).
Conklin already has a 20-point DraftKings game this season – and has just finished back-to-back 10-point games. It’s baffling that DraftKings cut his salary to its lowest level since week 1, but here we are. Conklin has a devious tournament advantage and an extremely low chance of disappointing his prize for gambling this week.
Other tight ends with a winning hike of the week
Darren Waller ($ 6,200 DraftKings, $ 6,800 FanDuel): Las Vegas Raiders (-3) to New York Giants (46.5 overall)
Following the release of Henri ruggs, Waller could play an expanded role in the future. He’s already used the downfield quite a bit, behind Kelce and Kyle pitts over the season in aerial work sites. Now he’s arguably the Raiders’ best deep threat. Even though his role remains the same, Waller is still a threat to dominate the post on a weekly basis. He has five games of at least 29.5 DraftKings points in the past two seasons.
The Giants are a tough matchup for the tight ends – with an over / under -2.6 opponent in position. However, Waller is not a typical tight end, with more than a third of his offensive snaps coming from the lunge or wide lunge. Assuming he’s perfectly healthy after missing Week 8 with injury, Waller is a solid game, with the second-highest ceiling projection on the slate.
If Waller is absent again, Foster Moreau ($ 3,000 DraftKings, $ 5,000 FanDuel) will again be one of the best value options on the slate. Last week he had six catches for 60 yards and one relief from Waller.
Mark Andrews ($ 5,500 DraftKings, $ 7,100 FanDuel): Baltimore Ravens (-6) vs. Minnesota Vikings (49.5 overall)
The pivot to Andrews from Kelce saves you $ 1,500 on DraftKings this week, compared to just $ 700 on FanDuel. It’s also more expensive than Waller on FanDuel, but $ 700 cheaper on DraftKings. Needless to say, if you’re targeting Andrews, DraftKings makes a lot more sense.
Andrews only trails Kelce and Waller in the median projection this week and enters Sunday as the league’s second tight end in the PPR score. While the Ravens aren’t anyone’s idea of a team that comes first, they’re spreading it more this year. Last year they hit a league low of 44.96%. This year, it’s over 54%. Much of that increase has gone to Andrews, who sees an additional goal per game over last year’s rate.
Kyle Pitts ($ 5,900 DraftKings, $ 6,600 FanDuel): Atlanta Falcons (+6) to New Orleans Saints (42 overall)
While the Superdome is no longer the Coors Field of fantasy football, a game in New Orleans is still a nice setup for Pitts. With the Falcons as the six-point underdog, they’ll have to air the ball at some point here. The Saints are second in DVOA against the race, and Calvin Ridley (Staff) is out, much of the offense will rest on Pitts.
We’ve seen the Pitts cap before this year, with two 29-point games (DraftKings) in Weeks 5 and 7. Week 8 showed us his bottom, with a stat line of 2/13/0 against the Panthers. This makes Pitts very fragile for gambling, but a great tournament option. We are getting a pay discount at both sites, and probably on the property as well after last week’s performance.
Now is the time to buy low on Pitts for DFS. Be sure to check out our Minimalist Tournament Model tab (under the Pro Models tab) once the property projections are posted. It combines cap and ownership to identify point DFS games. Pitts will likely be near the top this week.
A note on the tight ends of the value:
With Conklin already covered by models, we’re forgoing the value games section this week. With the exception of Moreau (if Waller is missing), Conklin is clearly the best option to save money on the post. Goedert is just as strong in the average wage.
These two are the undisputed leaders of Pts / Sal this week.