By Ryan Weisse
Usually, going into a fantasy draft, the best advice is a Fantasy Footballers favorite: “Be Water.” Let the draft come to you, make decisions based on how the draft is going, and be ready to change your way of thinking if the draft takes an unexpected turn. It really is great advice — but when it comes to drafting a TE, you are going to be faced with a big decision sooner rather than later.
To land a top TE, you are going to have to draft them in one of the first four rounds of your fantasy draft. Josh Hudson is going to present you with the case for doing so, and I’m sure he’ll make some good points about how the top guys at the position run away with the points lead. But what about what you are giving up? Using your second-round pick to get Travis Kelce or George Kittle means you aren’t getting your RB2 there, and that could be worse than missing out on a great TE.
In a league where RB volume is so scarce, skipping a high volume guy early in your draft could be the worst mistake you can make. The most common thing you hear most fantasy analysts say is that they want to come away from the first four rounds of their draft with at least three RBs. You want volume and you want depth.
So if I’m telling you to skip the early TEs, surely it’s fine to take one in the Fifth or Sixth Round right? Wrong. WRONG. Those guys bust in fantasy football far more than they hit, and they barely outscore guys taken much later. I’m going to change your way of thinking altogether. You are going to wait until the very end of your draft before you fill the position. Why?
- There is a tremendous amount of value at the TE position towards the end of fantasy drafts.
- If you pick the wrong guy, you are going to Stream the position
If you’re not familiar with the concept of streaming, here’s the TL;DR: Instead of starting the same player every week, you will add a new player with the best possible matchup through waivers each week. It requires a little more work, but if done correctly, you will build a top-10 TE that didn’t exist for anyone in the league except you.
In practice, it can seem a little daunting, but there are plenty of resources to help you, not the least of which is me, Ryan Weisse. I have been a proponent of streaming QB, TE, DEF, and K for as long as I can remember. Josh has even dubbed me “The Stream Master General,” a title that I wear proudly. Starting with the 2020 season, my streams will be available on the Club Fantasy site and will be a part of our weekly show. But I’m not going to make you wait…time to see how the sausage is made!
My process is simple but effective. To start, I look for TEs that are below 50% owned — there is no point in telling you to stream them if you can’t even add them. I look at ownership percentages on both Yahoo and ESPN, as they are the most popular fantasy platforms. After doing that, I look for guys with solid recent performances. If they aren’t getting it done, it won’t matter how good the matchup is for them. Sometimes a player was just on bye the previous week and you might luck into a TE that shouldn’t have been available in the first place. Finally, I look for good matchups. If a defense has been trash against the TE, it means your new TE is likely to perform well against them too. There are no guarantees in this game, but those are a good set of criteria to find your diamond in the rough. Does it work? I’m glad you asked.
Last season was the first in which I kept track of my TE streaming. Overall, if you started my #1 ranked guy every week, you ended up with the TE11. Not bad but not the top-10 TE that I promised at the beginning of this article. However, every week I’m also going to give you five options (I love top-5 lists, hence, the Twitter Handle) and if you landed the top scorer each week of 2019, you would’ve ended up with 240 fantasy points (Full PPR) and the overall TE2. The TE2, by starting a guy less than 50% owned every week.
Look, it’s a crapshoot — most of this game we love is — and this can be really fun. If you just start the #1 guy I tell you, you’re still likely to end up with at least a top-12 player every week. If you go with your gut, you could build the best TE in all of fantasy football…without hurting yourself at the RB position early in your draft.
Stream. Your. TEs.