Game-By-Game Projections: Zach Ertz (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Another year, another elite fantasy season for Zach Ertz, who’s become Mr. Reliable with his perennial success. That’s due to five straight seasons with at least 100 targets, 75 receptions, and 800 receiving yards. Not too shabby. This season, nine of his matchups on the schedule come against teams ranked in the top-10 of fantasy points allowed to the tight end position in 2019, including five inside the top-five. That’s more than half the schedule with excellent matchups. It’s a dream scenario for Ertz, who finds himself likely to be the top target in the City of Brotherly Love for at least one more go-round.
I don’t buy into Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson playing full seasons given the bevy of injuries both have suffered in recent years. Jeffery hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2017, and the last time he had more than 65 receptions was 2014. You’d have to go all the way back to 2013 to find a 16-gamer for D-Jax. Plain and simple, the top two receivers on this team are more than likely to miss some time, leaving rookie Jalen Reagor, second-year man J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Dallas Goedert and Ertz to handle the receiving work. Among that motley crew, I think I’ll take my chances with the big-bodied veteran with good hands. Goedert was superb last season, posting a 58/607/5 line that saw him record career highs across the board. Despite his ascension, there’s room for these two tight ends to co-exist, and I don’t think Ertz will fall off — far from it, in fact.
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Eagles ran a whopping 52 percent of their plays with a RB/2WR/2TE personnel grouping — by far the highest in the NFL. I’m assuming Carson Wentz is healthy all season and tosses right around 600 passes in 2020, primarily to his tight ends and backs., including Ertz, with whom he has a strong relationship. Expect a performance from Ertz that will put him in contention for the overall TE1. We’ll break the season down game-by-game below.
Week 1: @ Redskins
Ertz gets a solid matchup from the jump in 2020, facing off against a Redskins squad that was weak against the tight end position in 2019. Washington has one of the worst rosters in football, however, so it’s tough to expect much heavy lifting from any one player in what should be an easy Eagles victory. I’m looking for Ertz to jump into the scoring column early with 55 yards and a score.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (14.0 fantasy points)
Week 2: vs. Rams
Philly should be fired up for the home-opener, facing a new-look Rams offense missing both Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley. There will certainly be some explosiveness missing from L.A., but make no mistake, the Rams’ offense can put up points. Expect Philly to get it done on offense, but I’m not looking at Ertz for a score in this one.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (9.3 fantasy points)
Week 3: vs. Bengals
Cincinnati was bad in all facets of the game last season. That’s why the team picked No. 1 this year. Now in 2020, the defensive outlook still isn’t great for the Bengals, and Philly should get the job done comfortably here. I think Ertz crosses the goal line but isn’t needed much in the receiving game.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 43 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (12.3 fantasy points)
Week 4: @ 49ers
San Francisco was one of the stingiest defenses against tight ends in 2019, and it’s likely that will continue in 2020. The Eagles have a tall task in Week 4 playing in San Francisco, and I don’t think Ertz has a huge game here. Look for a middling receiving line with no score.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 48 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (7.3 fantasy points)
Week 5: @ Steelers
Philly travels to Pittsburgh after playing Week 4 at San Francisco in what could be a tough matchup for the Eagles. However, both offenses are capable of scoring at a high clip, and I expect this one to be high-scoring. Ertz isn’t going to hit paydirt, but a strong showing is still in the works for the talented tight end.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 82 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (12.2 fantasy points)
Week 6: vs. Ravens
Baltimore was the stingiest tight end defense in 2019, and it’s likely that defensive trend continues this season. The Eagles cold have a hard time getting Ertz the football in Week 6, so I don’t predict a huge line here. Look for mild production.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (8.5 fantasy points)
Week 7: vs. Giants
Ertz shredded New York last season for 9/91/2 in his only meeting with the G-Men, and I think he tees off against the exploitable defense in Week 7 as well. In this home, divisional matchup, I think the Giants give Philly a hard time, and Ertz comes through big in the close contest.
Predicted stat line: 8 receptions, 106 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (20.6 fantasy points)
Week 8: vs. Cowboys
Though Dallas was one of the worst teams against tight ends in 2019, Ertz has historically struggled against the Cowboys. In 14 career games, he’s managed just a 63/608 receiving line with only four total touchdowns. The good news is, he’s been much better at home than on the road. Ertz won’t be spectacular here, but the won’t be a performance that hurts your fantasy team.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (8.8 fantasy points)
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @ Giants
Following the bye week, the Eagles get another crack at the Giants in the Meadowlands. Rested and taking on a weak defense, I think Ertz has a fine encore against the G-Men and scores another touchdown in the road game.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 71 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (16.1 fantasy points)
Week 11: @ Browns
Cleveland was porous to tight ends in 2019, giving up the second most points to the position (9.2) last season. I expect Cleveland to get its act together on offense in 2020, meaning the Eagles will need to do some scoring here to keep pace. Ertz is in line for a big game at Cleveland.
Predicted stat line: 7 receptions, 77 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (19.2 fantasy points)
Week 12: vs. Seahawks
Despite Seattle’s above-average defense, the team struggled against tight ends last season. This matchup should be a grind for both squads with Philly leaning on its defense, run game, and short passing game.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (15.8 fantasy points)
Week 13: @ Packers
Green Bay was pretty solid against tight ends in 2019, and the matchup at Lambeau is not ideal for Ertz. I think he’ll come back to earth here with a relatively modest final receiving line to close out the fantasy regular season.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (7.1 fantasy points)
Week 14: vs. Saints
There’s definite shootout potential for this late-season matchup, and the good news for fantasy owners is that it comes in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. In this clash of likely NFC powerhouses, look for Ertz to provide a strong receiving line and score yet another touchdown.
Predicted stat line: 7 receptions, 88 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (17.8 fantasy points)
Week 15: @ Cardinals
Fantasy owners, rejoice! Arizona’s defense was the worst in the NFL against tight ends last season, and it’s not even that close. The Cards allowed 13.1 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in 2019, nearly four more points per game than the next closest team, the Cleveland Browns at 9.2. Expect a blowup performance from No. 86 in the fantasy semis.
Predicted stat line: 8 receptions, 108 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs (26.8 fantasy points)
Week 16: @ Cowboys
Ertz has been pretty unremarkable when playing at Jerry World in his career, so I’m not going to bank on him bucking the trend this season. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, it’s a tough out for championship week, and there’s almost no way you’re benching Ertz. Roll with him here, but I’m predicting a poor game.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 39 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (6.4 fantasy points)
Week 17: vs. Redskins
The last week of the season is always tough to predict, but based on the season schedule and Week 17’s matchup, it’s reasonable to think that the Eagles won’t have much to prove here. Already locked in to the playoff picture, Philly cruises here against one of the weakest teams in football. Ertz comes up small in this one.
Predicted stat line: 3 receptions, 37 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (5.2 fantasy points)
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It’s hard not to love Ertz in 2020, and despite some growing chatter that Dallas Goedert’s big 2019 season is the harbinger of Ertz’s fantasy decline, I think the former will be just fine. I’m predicting a bigger second half due to the likely injuries Philly will sustain at the receiver position, but the schedule is fantastic all year long. At his late fourth-round ranking as the overall TE4, I like his value better than the early second-round price you’ll likely have to spend to snag Travis Kelce or George Kittle. I’ll be looking to own shares of Ertz wherever I can this season.
2019 stats: 88 receptions, 916 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs
2020 predicted stats: 90 receptions, 1,034 receiving yards, 9 receiving TDs