Fantasy Football: Tyler Eifert's value plunges

When a player already saddled with injury concerns is injured before the season even starts, it's a concern.

That is where we're at with Tyler Eifert, the Bengals stud tight end who will undergo a "minimal" ankle procedure that will keep him sidelined for three months, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. ESPN speculated Eifert might miss Week 1.

It's frustrating to know Eifert will miss important reps during training camp and the preseason, but it's magnified by the fact he initially hurt his ankle in last January's Pro Bowl. The Enquirer said his ankle hadn't responded to treatment quickly enough and now surgery is the best option on the table.

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Tyler Eifert JAC • TE •
2015 STATS52 rec., 615 yards, 13 TDs

So now what? Until we know Eifert will be ready to roll for the start of the season, Fantasy owners have to take a cautious approach with him. Drafting him means drafting another tight end because of his uncertainty for not only the start of the season but to be in game shape. How often have we seen players miss training camp and the preseason, only to show up Week 1 and not play to expectations? Eifert is a strong candidate for that.

He's also a risk to re-injure his ankle or some other part of his body. The big lug missed one game as a rookie, then played in only one game his second season and then missed three games during his breakout 2015.

The other dilemma with Eifert -- one many Fantasy owners took umbrage with -- was that he was overly reliant on touchdowns last season. He scored 13 of them, one every four catches. That led all tight ends while his 52 grabs ranked him 16th and his 615 yards were 12th among his position.

If you draft Eifert now, your best-case scenario is that he heals up, takes part in some preseason conditioning, gets back on the field, plays in a bunch of games and continues to get fed in the red zone.

Given where he's at with his pending surgery and the likelihood of a statistical regression, it's pretty clear he's a risk to come anywhere close to his 2015 totals.

Eifert remains a Top 12 tight end but shapes up more as a late Round 7 or Round 8 choice. It's kind of a decent value, actually. However, if you take him, you also have to commit a roster spot to another tight end which eliminates a potential sleeper stashed on your roster. I suppose you could make that second tight end a sleeper-esque player Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron or Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so it's not all bad, but it has to be done nonetheless.

This also creates a problem for Andy Dalton, who may not have his trusty red-zone threat for the start of the season. Dalton connected with Eifert on 13 of his 25 touchdowns last season! Where would Dalton have been without Eifert on the field? He should have him for most of this season so maybe there's a shot at seven or eight scores. That still knocks him down the rankings.

I had a hard time with him and Tony Romo -- I think I'd still prefer Dalton, but it's really close. Both are the kind of quarterbacks you can wait until Pick No. 100 for and then draft with another passer in consecutive rounds.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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