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Tight End Busts (2019 Fantasy Football)

Aug 31, 2019

Zach Ertz may not be a lock to deliver elite TE numbers in 2019

There may not be a position in fantasy football more controversial than tight end. Do you pay up for one of the big three? Do you wait on the position and look for value? Do you punt the whole position and stream?

There are so many different ways to go about drafting tight ends. I’m generally in the camp of waiting on tight end and targeting one of the mid-tier guys, but each draft is different, and you must be prepared to adjust on the fly.

With all that being said, I’m going to go through my top tight end busts for the 2019 season.

Important note: these are busts relative to their ADP, not completely undraftable busts.

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Zach Ertz (PHI): Overall ADP – 27th
I’m sure a lot of you will see Ertz’s name up here and roll your eyes thinking there’s no way he is a bust in 2019, but hear me out. In 2018, Ertz finished with 116 catches for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers are clearly amazing, but are they sustainable? Probably not.

In Ertz’s prior five seasons before 2018, he never exceeded 78 receptions or 853 yards. In fact, he had three straight seasons of 74-78 catches and 816-853 yards, showing us what his realistic expectations should be for 2019. Last year, the Eagles dealt with injuries to their wide receiver group, running back group, and Carson Wentz.

All of those injuries factored into Ertz’s monster year. He received more targets due to receivers missing time, the offense was pass-heavier with injured backs and Nick Foles loved targeting Ertz. In Foles’ five starts last year, Ertz received 50 total targets. I think we can all agree that 10 targets per game for a tight end is not a sustainable number.

I like Ertz as a player, but he’s currently being drafted ahead of guys like Kerryon Johnson, Stefon Diggs, and Amari Cooper. That’s a bit too rich for my blood. I’d prefer to pass on him and target a mid-tier tight end like O.J. Howard or Hunter Henry.

Eric Ebron (IND): Overall ADP – 82nd
Is there any player in fantasy with more bust potential than Eric Ebron? The simple answer is “no,” but I’ll dig a bit deeper to show exactly why.

Ebron finished the 2018 season with 66 catches for 750 yards and 14 total touchdowns. That came out to a touchdown catch on just about every fifth reception. That efficiency is nearly impossible to repeat. He had seven different games last year with three or fewer catches, making him the truest definition of “touchdown or bust.”

Beyond his overall touchdown or bust label, the splits between him and Jack Doyle (when healthy) are very telling. In five games played with Doyle on the field, Ebron was out targeted 33 to 22 and saw a huge percentage of the snaps go to Doyle as well. In the four games that Doyle started and finished, he never received under 73% of the snaps. In that same time span, Ebron never exceeded 45% of the snaps. It’s clear who the Colts actually want on the field at tight end.

If those numbers weren’t enough to convince you, the retirement of Andrew Luck is just going to make it even harder for Ebron to replicate last year’s totals. I’d look for someone you can rely on even in games where they don’t score, as touchdowns are always the hardest stat to predict for any player.

David Njoku (CLE): Overall ADP – 88th
With everything going on in Cleveland, you’d expect Njoku to be more of a breakout than bust, but I don’t see it that way. First off, there are so many mouths to feed in this Browns offense that I just don’t see him getting consistent opportunities. He was already not much of a volume guy and now that Odell Beckham is there, it’s fair to say his minimal target share will only drop.

When it comes to tight ends, you can occasionally sacrifice target share if the touchdown upside is there, but that’s not the case with Njoku. In 32 career games, he has only scored eight times. In the games he hasn’t scored, he’s posted double-digit PPR fantasy points just three times. That’s an extremely low floor for a tight end being picked in the top 10 at his position. He’s bound to have a couple of big games in this revamped Browns offense, but he won’t be nearly consistent enough to rely on in redraft leagues.

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Eli Berkovits is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Eli, check out his archive and follow him @BookOfEli_NFL.

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