Welcome to the fourth and final edition of Who’s Got the Edge! The past three weeks, we’ve evaluated running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers. Now it’s time to dissect one of the most interesting positions in fantasy football this year: tight end.
The tight end position this year is as polarizing as ever. The three top tight ends that everyone seems to agree on are Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, and Travis Kelce. But if one of those three don’t end up on your roster, who should you choose? Let’s take a look at some of the players you may be choosing from.
TREY BURTON vs. KYLE RUDOLPH
Trey Burton and Kyle Rudolph are consistently being ranked in the top ten range for overall tight end rankings. Both are in interesting situations this year, as Burton moves from the Philadelphia Eagles over to the Chicago Bears, while Rudolph gets to know his new QB, Kirk Cousins.
Trey Burton is looking to finally break out from Zach Ertz’s shadow, and this might be his year to do it. Coming into Chicago, Burton was in competition for the starting tight end role with Adam Shaheen, who stepped up after Zach Miller went down with his gruesome leg injury last season. The coaches were hyping up the competition between the two until Shaheen went down with a lower leg injury and has yet to set a timetable for return. This blows the door wide open for Trey Burton to come in and snag all 96 targets that went to tight ends in Chicago last year. In Philly, Burton was able to transform 30 targets into 23 receptions for 248 yards and five touchdowns. That’s pretty efficient, considering he was playing behind Ertz, who was a monster. Burton posted an impressive 10.8 yards per catch and ended the season with only one drop. If Burton can create a rapport with second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky, he may just end the season as a top-five tight end.
Kyle Rudolph, on the other hand, is all about dependability. This is a tight end that finished 2017 with 87 targets and even led the Vikings in 2016 with 120 targets. Sure, he’s playing with up-and-comers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs now, but Rudolph has done nothing but produce these last few years. In the regular season of 2017, Rudolph had 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns. He only had one drop and avoided two tackles as well. Not only that, but Rudolph ranked fifth overall in deep catches, posting a 44.4% catch rate on balls thrown over 20 yards.
While Burton is poised to breakout, there are still many unknowns in the Chicago offense. How will the Bears newest wideout Allen Robinson come back from his ACL tear? Will Tarik Cohen be able to replicate his penchant for big plays and catching passes? Until more is cleared up with the Chicago offense, the edge has to go to the dependability of Kyle Rudolph. According to the Fantasy Football Calculator, Rudolph’s ADP has dropped into the seventh round over the last month. I’ll take that value any day.
JACK DOYLE vs. JORDAN REED
The biggest issue for this tight end battle is health. Can Jordan Reed play a full season? Reed hasn’t posted a 16 game season in his five years in the NFL. Heck, the guy was hurt before he even started a game in the league. After an offseason with a new trainer, Reed seems to be back on track. Last year, Reed played in only six games. In those games, Reed posted an astounding 84.8% catch rate on 33 targets. When lined up in the slot, Reed caught 85.7% of his fourteen slot targets. When Reed played, he was targeted an averaged of five times per game in 2017, and an average of seven times per game in 2016. If Reed can stay on the field, he will be an explosive addition to an injury-riddled Redskins offense.
Jack Doyle’s production could also depend on health, although not his own. Andrew Luck is a pivotal part of the Indianapolis Colts’ offense, and his health issues last year were a big issue. With Luck supposedly back to full health this year, Doyle could be a great draft option, as he’s sticking around into round 11 in most drafts. Doyle played in 15 games last year, posting 80 catches for 690 yards and four touchdowns. Doyle also had a massive 4.3 yards per catch after contact and avoided seven tackles. Clearly an elusive tight end, Doyle also posted an efficient 1.52 yards per route run. One of Doyle’s biggest assets is when the Colts use him in the slot, as he caught 83.6% of his 55 slot targets. Not only that, but the opportunity to produce is there. Doyle led the Colts in targets last year with 102 and was second in targets in 2016. As long as Andrew Luck can stay healthy and regain his arm strength, Doyle is a great fantasy value.
Until Reed can prove he’s ready for the long haul, the edge goes to Jack Doyle.
AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS vs. RICKY SEALS-JONES
The two hyphenated tight ends should have to battle each other, right? Only makes sense. But seriously, Seferian-Jenkins and Seals-Jones are consistently being ranked right around the 15-20 range in overall tight end rankings. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was shipped off to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the upcoming season, where he’ll replace the departed Marcedes Lewis as the starting tight end. In 2017 with the New York Jets, Seferian-Jenkins caught 50 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns, even after missing three games. Seferian-Jenkins also had a drop rate of only 3.8%, coming in third overall for tight ends. With top receiver Marquise Lee going on IR this past week, expect even more targets to come ASJ’s way this year as the Jaguars try to find a new top ball catcher.
Ricky Seals-Jones enters his third year in the league with the Arizona Cardinals, finally taking over the role of starting tight end as Jermaine Gresham may start the season on the PUP list after an Achilles injury. Seals-Jones posted a decent year last year, even after playing behind Gresham for most of the season and enduring the tough year of offensive woes. Seals-Jones still posted 201 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 catches. Twelve! Imagine what this guy could do with the ninety-some targets the Cardinals tend to throw to tight ends. Seals-Jones amassed an incredible 16.8 yards per catch and 6.3 yards after contact. He even ranked number one out of all tight ends in yards per route run at 2.96. Granted, this is a very small sample size to be dealing with. But with a capable QB in Sam Bradford, the running game back in place, and Gresham out of the way, Seals-Jones is primed for a breakout year.
Give the edge to Ricky Seals-Jones.
That’s all for the Who’s Got the Edge series! Thanks for reading, and as always, hit me up if you have any questions or comments.
Now, who’s ready for some football?!?