The good news with tight end is, most of them cost so little that you won't mind if they miss. If you decide to wait until the final four or five rounds on Draft Day to target a starter, there's no such thing as a bust.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of tight ends going much earlier with the potential to really disappoint. In fact, all of the top-10 tight ends are going inside of the top-100 overall right now, and four of them have been hit with the "bust" label by our team of Fantasy Football analysts.
You don't have to avoid these players — any player can become a value if he falls far enough. However, if you trust us, you won't be taking these guys at their current cost. It just isn't worth it.
Here's who you'll be hearing from:
- Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Dave Richard, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Heath Cummings, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Ben Gretch, CBS Fantasy Editor
- Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy Senior Editor
One of the best surprises in 2018 was Ebron, who signed with the Colts as a free agent and turned his career around. He finished the season as the No. 4 Fantasy tight end in PPR, and he had 110 targets for 66 catches, 750 yards and 14 total touchdowns, second in the NFL among all non-quarterbacks behind only Antonio Brown. But regression is coming for Ebron this year. Jack Doyle (hip) should be healthy, and the Colts added two prominent receivers in free agent Devin Funchess and rookie Parris Campbell. Ebron's touchdowns are sure to decline, and the rest of his stat line could also be in trouble. He's still worth selecting as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, but don't reach for him on Draft Day. I'm not sure he's even worth drafting as a top-10 tight end this year.
The pairing of Cook and the Saints should be good, and hopefully Drew Brees and Sean Payton can keep Cook playing on a high level. We saw a career season from him in 2018 with the Raiders when he was the No. 5 Fantasy tight end in PPR leagues with 101 targets for 68 catches, 896 yards and six touchdowns. Just know what you're getting with Cook, who has had a hard time posting stats on a consistent basis. In 2018, he had seven games with at least 11 PPR points but also six games with six points or less. And the Saints have been chasing consistent Fantasy production at tight end since Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle in 2015. Over the past four seasons, the No. 1 tight end in New Orleans has averaged 45 catches for 538 yards and three touchdowns, with two of those performances coming from Coby Fleener and two from Benjamin Watson. Cook is an upgrade over both, but don't be overexcited about him playing with an elite quarterback in Brees. Remember, he spent a season with Aaron Rodgers in 2016 and had only 30 catches for 377 yards and one touchdown in 10 games.
PIT Pittsburgh • #89
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Sorry, I don't get the hype. McDonald will have a nice role as the Steelers' top tight end, but he's never been a great stat producer. In 73 career games, he has four with 70-plus yards, four with five-plus catches, and 12 total touchdowns. He's also never played a 16-game season. So unless the Steelers give him most of the targets Antonio Brown left behind, he's not going to work his way to numbers that will make him an every-week starter. If you want to stream him in Week 1 against the Patriots and Week 2 against the Seahawks and hope he scores, that's fine. Just don't do that with a pick on the Round 9/10 border, which is what his ADP is right now.
Not even Njoku's coaches are thrilled with him! Coach Freddie Kitchen recently said his third-year tight end "needs to get better" at running routes and pass blocking, adding that he's not a finished product. That's not good. In two seasons, he has eight touchdowns, two games with over 70 yards, and 13 drops. Mind you, those include one season without Odell Beckham and two seasons without Beckham and Jarvis Landry. I don't understand why anyone would reach for him with a top-100 pick, but that's where his ADP is at.
I think everyone has accepted that Eric Ebron won't score 14 touchdowns again. I'm not sure anyone is prepared for just how bad it could be. He was on pace for 42 catches and 478 yards last year when Jack Doyle was healthy. He'd need eight touchdowns at that rate just to best Jimmy Graham's 2018. Not scared yet? The Colts added Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess to the passing game. Presumably they'll have T.Y. Hilton for a full 16 games. The defense is better, which could cut into their pass volume. There is still weekly upside because of the red-zone role Ebron carved out for himself, but he should be drafted as an afterthought because you missed the good tight ends. Anything earlier than that sets you up for a massive disappointment.
I hate this. I'm supposed to be telling you about how David Njoku topped 600 yards as a 22-year-old tight end and should have a bright future as a No. 1 tight end in an offense captained by Baker Mayfield. But how can Njoku be a No. 1 tight end with Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb doing what we expect them to do? I just don't see enough touches. It also doesn't help that the coaching staff has seemed less than enamored with Njoku this summer.
If Cook was still in Oakland, he might still be a bust candidate. He's 32 and coming off a career year after several disappointing seasons. And the change in scenery makes matters worse, not better. These aren't the Saints of old; this team has trended toward the run the past few seasons. A big part of Cook's 2018 success was seeing over 100 targets for the first time; don't expect anything close to a repeat when no Saint beyond Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara saw more than 50 last year.
The splits with and without Jack Doyle on the field were clear — Doyle played more, ran more routes and generally reduced Ebron to a situational option. That's not to say that splits can't change, or that Ebron's role wasn't still valuable, as he was clearly a red zone option. But it would be hard enough for him to match a 14-touchdown season without concerns over how much he'll play. The Colts have also added to their WR depth and have an improved defense that could lead to less passing overall.
Ebron is going to be a popular bust pick this season, and for good reason. You don't want to chase last year's touchdown outliers, and he was the outlier of all outliers with his 14 scores. However, when Jack Doyle was healthy last season, Ebron's role in the offense evaporated; he ran just 17.7 routes per game and had 3.7 targets, leading to 3.0 catches and 38 yards per game. Doyle was actually a bigger part of the offense when he was healthy. You just can't pay the premium for that.
David Njoku is a heck of an athlete, and in different circumstances, it would be pretty easy to get excited about him as he enters his third season. Unfortunately, he's on the Browns, who famously added Odell Beckham this offseason. Njoku saw 88 targets last season and had 56 catches for 639 yards, and I would bet on every one of those numbers going down. Maybe this offense lives up to the rosiest expectations and Njoku can snag 8-10 touchdowns and be a top-10 tight end that way, but that's not something you want to bet on. Look for guys with better roles later in the draft.
So which Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck's huge season, and find out.