Fantasy Football Do Not Draft List: Tight Ends (2020)
There are very few players who are true “do not drafts” under any circumstances. As Matt Kelley told us, “I don’t hate players, I hate ADPs.” In 99% of cases, the reason for placing a player on the “do not draft” list is because of his ADP.
That will be the focus of this list. I’ll feature tight ends that many of us like and would love to have — it’s just that they cost too much. Let’s take a look at 2020’s “do not draft” tight ends. You can read this year’s “do not draft” list for quarterbacks here.
Darren Waller (LV): TE5 ECR
If you remember any of my research from last season, you’ll recall that I loved Darren Waller. Before the entire fantasy community caught on, Waller was my default last position player drafted in every league, even in ones where I’d already taken a tight end. He paid off handsomely with a TE6 finish.
The problem for 2020 is that he’s being drafted to do what he did in 2019. Unfortunately, his numbers are bound to regress. Waller saw 117 targets last season. He caught 90 of them, good for a 76.9% catch rate. Even if we assume that number doesn’t drop much, the targets will The Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. They signed Jason Witten, who has no business being on a football field in the year 2020, but who nevertheless will see some snaps. They still have Foster Moreau. They added a jack-of-all-trades player in Lynn Bowden. And I’m certain that Derek Carr will be benched for Marcus Mariota at some point this season. That’s a whole host of added variables working against Waller repeating his 2019.
I don’t think Waller will be bad. This all comes down to cost. You have to spend a fifth-round pick on Waller, but is he really any better than Austin Hooper, Hayden Hurst, Jared Cook, Mike Gesicki, or any of the other tight ends going many rounds later? Would I rather have Waller than those guys? Of course. But do I want to pass on someone like D.K. Metcalf or D’Andre Swift to lock up Waller? I’d rather throw darts at finding this year’s Darren Waller.
Hunter Henry (LAC): TE9 ECR
Although he finished as the TE7 last year, Hunter Henry only averaged 12.3 PPG. If he could repeat that, he would perhaps be a reasonable value in the seventh round. I don’t want reasonable value; I want plus value.
Henry has played 26 games over the past three seasons. His extrapolated targets from 2019 put him at about 100 targets. That would’ve been a career-high. Now entering his fifth professional season, Henry will be receiving passes from Tyrod Taylor and, eventually, Justin Herbert. The good news is that during his three seasons as a starter in Buffalo, Taylor targeted tight end Charles Clay frequently. The bad news is that Sammy Watkins’ 96 targets in 2015 were the most any individual player saw from Taylor.
Taylor is going to average fewer than 30 pass attempts per game. Henry is, at best, fourth in line for targets behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler. Henry has lots of competition for targets and a lengthy injury history. And at quarterback, he’ll either have some who can run instead of checking it down to him or a rookie with accuracy issues. I’m just not interested in Henry at his current cost.
T.J. Hockenson (DET): TE14 ECR
This one is not about price. I won’t scold anyone for taking T.J. Hockenson in the 10th or 11th round. I just don’t want Hockenson because he’s a poor bet to be a useful fantasy asset.
Hockenson played in 12 games last season. He had a monster Week 1 against Arizona’s historically bad tight end defense, finishing as the overall TE2. He posted just one double-digit effort the rest of the season and never finished higher than overall TE14.
To be fair, Hockenson is extremely athletic, and the tight end position is difficult to learn. I understand the desire to believe he takes a step forward as a sophomore. I’m just not buying it.
Hockenson is going ahead of Dallas Goedert, Jonnu Smith, and Mike Gesicki, just to name a few. All three of these guys, as well as some others, showed more promise last season than Hockenson. We’ve seen these three guys put together multiple TE1 weeks. We haven’t seen that from Hockenson.
Hockenson is competing with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola for targets, not to mention the Lions’ two quality receiving backs. Hockenson actually had a 14.1% target share as a rookie. He had a 66.9% snap share in just 12 games. He was set up to at least make some noise as a rookie, and he did absolutely nothing.
Is it possible Hockenson takes a step forward this season? Absolutely. If he does, it will be on someone else’s team because I would rather place my bets on tight ends at similar or cheaper ADPs that have already proven what they can do on an NFL field.
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