2021 RSO Contracts: TEs

Updated: August 16th 2021

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to tight ends.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize per game PPR scoring.

Average RSO Tight End Contracts

Top Tier Contracts

It’s extremely difficult making a realistic argument against Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce as the top fantasy option at the position.  He finished as the fantasy TE1 each of the last FIVE seasons and is getting better, averaging over 100 receptions and 1,300 yards during the last three years.  Those are numbers a fantasy player would salivate over from their top wide receiver.  His situation with Mahomes projects as the top situation for fantasy.  The only minor question for Kelce is whether age (nearing 32) eventually takes a toll on his performance.  Pitts is the culmination of a dominating college player and athletic phenom taken as the highest-drafted tight end ever.  Rookie fantasy production is historically a horror story at tight end for even the best prospects but he won’t play much inline as one of the most skilled receiving talents ever drafted for the position.  Kittle ranked as PFF’s top tight end in 2018 and 2019 while still ranking fourth in an injury-riddled 2020.  The 49er star produces high efficiency receiving yardage thanks, in part, to being one of best at accumulating yards after the catch and scored 15 points per game each of the last three years finishing as the TE3 or better each season.  Waller produced another huge year after his breakout 2019 season.  The former college wide receiver particularly dominated the last seven games averaging almost 8 receptions and 110 yards per game.  The field could open up even more for Waller if second year receivers Ruggs and Edwards expand their games.

The Middle

Andrews finished as a top-five tight end the last two seasons thanks largely to seven and ten touchdown years.  The Ravens significantly upgraded the nearly non-existent wide receiver core through free agency (Watkins) and the draft (Bateman).  Baltimore’s Jackson-led, run-heavy offense limits the target potential and ceiling for the pass catching tight end.  Hockenson made a big second year leap essentially doubling his rookie year receiving totals.  A bare receiving group on a rebuilding Lions team with a quarterback in Goff who prefers short and intermediate throws open up immense target potential for the third year player.  Most people assumed Ertz would be gone from Philadelphia leaving the tight end position to Goedert and a potential fantasy breakout.  The fourth year pro graded as a top-10 tight end each of his first three seasons per PFF.  Ertz is surprisingly still on the Eagles making any breakout suspect as of now on a team with questionable quarterback play.

Take your Chances

Most of the players for the rest of this article could easily find themselves in the mid TE1 range all the way down to the lower TE2 group.  The difference from TE5 to TE25 was less than four points per game.  Prepare for weekly matchup plays if going with a few guys from this group.  The athletic Gesicki finished with career bests in receptions, yardage, and touchdowns.  Miami massively upgraded the wide receiver group with Fuller and Waddle while also using mid-range draft capital on another tight end leaving Gesicki’s role unknown moving forward.  Thomas benefitted from a dangerously thin wide receiver group in Washington with very risk-averse quarterback play for 110 targets in 2020.  Thomas barely averaged six yards per target and Washington also significantly upgraded the wide receiver group which dampens his expectations going forward.  Tonyan is the poster-child for touchdown regression after a ludicrous 11 touchdowns on just 59 targets for the TE5 finish.

There are a lot of moving parts in New England with completely different offensive philosophies depending on the quarterback.  Does Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith carve out significant fantasy roles on a team without much in established wide receivers?  How much of a role can Irv Smith take on a run-heavy Minnesota team with two established quality wide receivers, even if he earns the third receiving option?  Engram projects for a smaller portion of the pass game with the Giants signing Kenny Golladay in free agency as the primary receiving option for a team with questionable quarterback play.  The Rams let Gerald Everett go in free agency and get an upgrade at quarterback with Matt Stafford opening up more possibilities for Higbee in the passing game.  Does Ertz remain in Philadelphia on a team with lots of questions at wide receiver and quarterback after a disastrous 2020?  Trautman has a golden opportunity to establish himself as a difference-making tight end on a team that let Jared Cook go and, with Michael Thomas out for at least a significant portion of the season, no established wide receivers.

Cleveland paid Hooper a lot of money in free agency last season but he finds himself in a run-heavy offense with lots of other dynamic receiving weapons and a deep tight end group.   Tampa Bay possesses perhaps the best receiving group in the NFL which puts future hall of famer Gronkowski squarely in the weekly upside touchdown-dependent streaming camp.  There is a chance for Kmet as a significant receiving option in Chicago.  Hurst finished as a mid-range TE2 last season on a team that essentially swaps Julio Jones for rookie Kyle Pitts with a new coach who utilized two-tight end formations at the highest rate in the NFL for Tennessee last year.  Everett played well in Los Angeles but didn’t get the chance for fantasy production with another good tight end.  The dynamic former second-round pick gets a quarterback upgrade and a shot as the clear third receiving option in Seattle.  Cook consistently puts up more yards than your average weekly matchup play thanks to his unusual deep threat ability at tight end where he posted at least 11.9 yards per reception each season after his rookie year.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

 

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