It’s never too early to start researching potential plays for the 2017 season. Bucking the status quo, or going rogue, by finding that “needle in a haystack” can bring the championship back to where it belongs – your trophy case. Using the Rotoviz Best Ball ADP App, The Rogue Reports will help you identify some mid-round value plays that could save a sinking ship or put the stamp on another dominating season. The Rogue Reports: Tight End Edition highlights Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, and Jared Cook as targets for your fantasy drafts.
Note: There could be slight variance between true Redraft ADP and Best Ball ADP because there is no current data on Redraft in 2017.
Zach Ertz – ADP 102.96, Position Rank TE10
Zach Ertz is coming off a career year last season in Philadelphia where he was the bona fide starter at TE for the first time. Despite only playing in 14 games in 2016, Ertz finished top six amongst all Tight Ends in four major categories: targets, receptions, yards, and most importantly, fantasy points. Since joining the league as a second-round draft pick in 2013, Ertz is eighth overall in total receptions and ninth in total fantasy points for Tight Ends.
Philadelphia made some splash free agent signings in the offseason adding Wide Receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith. Along with incumbent Jordan Matthews, the big play potential of the wide receivers should open up the middle of the field more for their receiving Tight End. Ertz has also built a strong rapport with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Along with being the second highest targeted player on his team (Matthews), Ertz received 67 percent of his total targets from week 10 on.
Zach Ertz is one of my favorite buy-low candidates this offseason. At only 26 years old and headed into his fifth pro season, he is bound to have TE5 seasons if the offense continues to be pass heavy. I not only love Ertz in Redraft but in dynasty formats as well. He is currently going in the mid-ninth round of drafts. Ertz’ high floor and budding potential are enough to make me pull the trigger.
Eric Ebron – ADP 111.95, Position Rank TE12
It’s no secret that rookie Tight Ends are not overly successful in their first year in the NFL. TJ Hernandez (@TJHernandez) wrote a wonderful article documenting the struggles of rookie TEs for 4for4.com. The highest selected rookie in recent memory was Eric Ebron who was selected with the tenth pick in the 2014 draft by the Detroit Lions. While Ebron’s inaugural season was hardly good enough to warrant a first round dynasty rookie pick (Ebron’s ADP was 1.09 in 2014 dynasty rookie drafts), he has continually improved as a performer every season:
Ebron finished 2016 ranked tenth in receptions and eighth in yards for Tight Ends despite missing three games. Detroit picked up his fifth-year contract option back in May amid speculation that the Lions could be in the market for a new TE. Ebron now has two seasons to prove his worth to his team (and the league) before hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in 2019, adding a little extra pressure to have that “breakout” season.
A lack of Red Zone opportunities led to Ebron’s lower than expected TE14 overall finish. He only saw six Red Zone targets (converting only one) in an offense that had 87 Red Zone attempts on 2016. That was good enough for seventh overall. I expect a TE6 season if he can convert a few more Red Zone opportunities into touchdowns. He is a steal when you combine the potential volume increase in an opportunistic offense and an ADP hovering around the ninth and tenth rounds.
Jared Cook – ADP 183.09, Position Rank TE23
Seeing Jared Cook’s name appear may come as a surprise to most drafters. He would certainly qualify as a low-risk investment but how big is his potential? After all, in Derek Carr’s tenure as the Raiders starting quarterback, his starting Tight Ends have finished as TE16 (2014), TE31 (2015), and TE31 (2016).
Cook was really coming on strong last season as the primary Tight End for Aaron Rodgers, putting up an impressive stat line in his last six games:
Extrapolating Jared Cook’s final 6 games (incl. playoffs) to a 16 game pace:
— Curtis Patrick (@DynastyCommand) July 5, 2017
Had Cook maintained that pace all of 2016, he would have finished around the TE2 or TE3 range at approximately 218 fantasy points. The Raiders signed Cook to a two-year deal worth 10.6 million dollars with a potential out after the first season. While it’s probably unrealistic to expect that kind of production in 2017, it is not unrealistic to for the Raiders to expect big numbers from Cook. Even if he can match 75% of that production pace, he would still have finished with approx. 162 fantasy points, netting him in the TE10-11 range.
The 2017 Oakland Raiders are built to win now with the additions of Cook and un-retired Marshawn Lynch. With players like Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree still commanding most of the defense’s attention, Jared Cook has a great chance of benefitting in this offense. With being the best pass-catching tight end in the Derek Carr era, it’s not unreasonable to see Cook’s name as a top 12 TE in 2017. He is currently falling to the 16th round to undrafted in redraft leagues. Go get him.