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USATSI

In the simplest terms, the rationale behind drafting any player is hoping he out-produces everyone else available at that time. This is true whether you're choosing the first overall pick or the fourth pick in Round 9 or the last pick in the draft. Why else would you take a player?

The only reasonable answer to that question: Because you need to fill specific positions in your weekly lineup. But even when you're choosing based on roster needs, the same rationale applies: When you pick a player, you're hoping he out-produces everyone else available from that position at that time.

But that's something you already could have figured out. What you might not have thought through is how you feel about each position. How much will you stress running backs? Is this the year you're going to target receivers early? Or are you going to zag while the rest of your league zigs and lock down a tight end and a quarterback before anyone else? And can you rationalize to yourself the answers to these questions? 

Look, Fantasy is supposed to be fun. This should be a fun thought exercise and not something that keeps you up at night. Besides, you need your beauty sleep. Read along and think about these strategies and how they align with what you think is best on Draft Day. 

And don't forget to know exactly what the rules of your league are and how many players you can start. The strategies you'll map out in a 10-team league with one flex are a lot different than a 12-team Superflex with three receivers or a 14-team tiered-PPR with team RBs and four flex dyno-multipliers. 

I just made that last one up, but it sounds fun! 

For the second year in a row, exactly 10 tight ends averaged at least 10 PPR points per game. And you thought running backs were scarce. 

It's true that you can gain a positional advantage over the rest of your league by spending one of your first five picks on a tight end, but in most leagues you only need to start one instead of two. That takes some of the pressure off chasing these guys, but there are a handful of Fantasy managers who crave that edge because it's tough to get.

Instead of forcing a tight end onto your roster or willingly ignoring the position until your last few picks, your best bet is to simply be aware of the pockets within the first 60 picks in every draft where the top tight ends are expected to get snagged. Average Draft Position will ultimately tell the tale, but assume you have no chance of getting annual stat-smasher Travis Kelce after 15th overall or number-monster Mark Andrews after 30th overall. Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller and George Kittle are the other ballyhooed members of the class, each of whom has extreme upside to help you dominate from week to week. 

They all should be gone by 60th overall, but if they slip, you should take advantage. 

If you miss on these tight ends, be it by choice or happenstance, you should know that there are capable alternatives but nearly all of them won't be worth more than a pick after Round 7. The likes of Dalton Schultz and T.J. Hockenson will go before Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. 

And if you miss those guys, your aim should be to stream tight ends until you find one who you feel good about using from week to week. That takes effort, so be sure you're OK with spending extra time studying tight ends, but it's a cost-effective plan.

DAVE'S FAVORITE STRATEGY: Be on the lookout for a fair-or-better value at tight end. Don't expect to steal one. If you feel like you're reaching for one, you shouldn't follow through. 

Tight end PPR tiers (updated 8/12)

Kelce!
Tier 1
20-30 overall
Andrews!
Rounds 4-5
High-upside starters
Rounds 6-8
Weekly Starters
Rounds 9-10
Low-end starters


Tight end Non-PPR tiers (updated 8/12)

Top 15
Kelce!
Round 3
Andrews
Rounds 4-5
High upside starters
Rounds 6-8
Weekly starters
Rounds 9-10
Low-end starters