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Trey Burton: Next High-Volume TE1 for Cheap (2018 Fantasy Football)

Another week, another round of Bargain Hunting. Last time, I recommended Evan Engram (TE – NYG) as the best value TE in fantasy football… and he proceeded to get concussed. Though Engram should be fine for the start of the season and I still love his value, I’ll give you another TE “Must Buy” in case the injury has you queasy.

Like Engram, this player is similarly set-up to join the Zach Ertz (TE – PHI) Travis Kelce (TE – KC) tier, but comes at an even cheaper price. In fact, he was featured as one of the biggest Preseason Risers in our Fantasy Football Draft Day Guide Update, specifically because of his connections to Kelce:

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Trey Burton (CHI – TE)
ADP: 84, TE9
ECR: 86, TE9
My Rank: 65 (+19, +21), TE6 (+3, +3)

Burton has generated hype since being pegged for Bears HC Matt Nagy‘sTravis Kelce ‘U” role.” After just over a quarter of 2018 preseason action, this “hype” feels a far more real and justified. Burton was on the field for 92% of Chicago’s first-team pass plays, while accounting for a team-leading 6 of Trubisksy’s 18 throws (33%). Moreover, Burton was split out in the slot on 47% of his routes, nearly-mirroring Kelce’s 50% slot usage from 2017. The statistical results were even more impressive. Through this variety of alignments and route combinations, Burton hauled in 4-of-5 targets for 45 yards and a TD.

As soon as he came on in Chicago, Nagy’s very first personnel conversation with GM Ryan Pace revolved around finding his next Kelce. This is a crucial cog of this attack, in which Kelce racked up a TE-leading 122 targets: “It’s an important role,” Nagy said. “It’s easy to create some plays for.”

Moreover, Burton was far and away Nagy’s top choice for this job. This makes perfect sense, considering the former Eagles’ insane athleticism. At 6’3″, 235 lbs, Burton is a physical freak, logging 2014 Combine bests in the 40 (4.62), the 3-cone (7.14) and the 20-yd shuttle (4.32). Nagy’s well aware of this athletic upside, stating:

“And when you have a guy that has the size that Trey has and the speed that he has, it’s about mismatches. That’s one of the things that I learned through coach Reid is getting mismatches throughout, and that’s what Trey does.”

The early results suggest a perfect fit. Carrying an 84 ADP and 86 ECR as the TE9, Burton seems likely to bring a high-yardage weekly floor — roughly 60+ yards — to an otherwise uncertain position, especially in this price range. His value has only risen with Adam Shaheen (TE – CHI) hitting the injured reserve The earliest Shaheen can now return is Week 8, although the fact all we know is “the hope is he can return” certainly isn’t promising. Truly, Shaheen and his potential to vulture scores with his 6’7″ frame was the only cloud on Burton’s otherwise outstanding fantasy upside. With this removed, Burton will be an every-down player who could lead the ascending Bears in targets, especially in the Red Zone. 

All-in-all, Burton is an unbelievable fantasy investment in 2018. He’s incredibly athletic, has always produced when provided the opportunity. Under TE-Whisperer Nagy, Burton will see by far the most volume possible. Plus, with an 8th Round price tag, you can build the stable of horses and pen of wide receivers, while still securing a high-floor, high-ceiling difference-making edge.


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Nicholas Traicoff is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Nicholas, check out his archive and site Roto Street Journal or follow him @RotoStreetWolf.

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